One of the minor but obvious difficulties with Northern Ireland’s eleven new councils is their unwieldy names. I particularly noticed this the other day when I was welcomed – on a gleaming new sign by the way – to “Banbridge District”. Are we really in future to be welcomed to “Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon”? It’s ludicrous!
A few are fine of course – Belfast and Mid Ulster are no problem as they are. I would propose, at least, the removal of the unwieldy “and” to simplify three others – just straightforward Lisburn-Castlereagh, Fermanagh-Omagh and Mid-East Antrim (or perhaps simply Mid Antrim).
Of the other six…
1. “Derry and Strabane” could be easily simplified to the river which runs through both – Foyle.
2. “Causeway Coast and Glens” is actually tautology: the Coast is the Glens and the Glens are the Coast; remove either the “Coast” or the “Glens”, perhaps better “Coast”, as “Glens” is also an old barony name – Causeway-Glens.
3. “Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon” is unwieldy: in fact it mainly covers most of County Armagh (including the city), plus part of County Down all of which falls into the historical barony of Iveagh – Armagh-Iveagh.
4. “Newry, Mourne and Down” is similarly unwieldy and unnecessary: there are a few options; as above, we could take the county in which most of it is situated (and whose county town it includes) plus the old neighbouring medieval kingdom name or traditional barony, thus Down-Oriel or Down-Fews, but we may be best to simplify the whole thing to the mountains around which it is all situated – Mourne.
5. “Antrim and Newtownabbey” is a bit confusing as it only covers “South Antrim” (which could be its name just as easily, to match “Mid-East Antrim”): but it also covers almost precisely the original, “old” Norman County of Antrim, which ran from the modern Antrim town (hence its name) to the Norman White Abbey, as well as the County Antrim section of medieval “Clandeboye” – Old Antrim or Old Clandeboye.
6. “North Down and Ards” strikes me as tautology too: Ards is North Down (North Down Cricket Club plays in the current Ards, for example), but that may look like a takeover, so we may consider simply taking the two main baronies covered (even there “Ards” is a breakaway from “Castlereagh”), thus Old Castlereagh or Castlereagh-Ards, or even just take the old Medieval Kingdom of “Clandeboye” (which covered a much vaster area but whose family name ended up just outside Bangor) and add it to the Ards barony name as above – Clandeboye-Ards.
Of course, if we are running with “Clandeboye” then Lisburn-Castlereagh could instead be Mid Clandeboye, thus forming a clearly defined Belfast-Clandeboye Urban Area which just happens to match the boundaries of the Medieval Kingdom (albeit exclusively east of the Bann and incorporating Killultagh) very closely. But that might look too much like common sense…
A bit of fun before polling day, anyway!
Maps courtesy of Land and Property Services, as retained on each insert.