The DUP has heavily criticised Sinn Féin over proposals to redraw Northern Ireland's electoral map.

As the party submitted its response to a public consultation on changing the region's constituency boundaries, deputy leader Nigel Dodds claimed Sinn Féin were trying to cover up for their lack of engagement in the two-year process.

Sinn Féin has reacted angrily to a second draft of plans to cut the number of constituencies from 18 to 17, claiming the proposals blatantly favour the DUP.

The revised map, which was published by the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland in January, was radically different to the first draft, which was issued in 2016.

Analysts suggested the initial version could have seen Sinn Féin overtake the DUP as the holder of the largest number of Westminster seats. Based on current voting patterns, the second draft should see the DUP retain its pre-eminence.

Sinn Féin has heavily criticised the changes, claiming they would leave at least four constituencies without any nationalist representation at Westminster or Assembly level.

The party has warned that there can be "no return to the gerrymandering of the past".

It is particularly critical of the plan to split the Co Derry town of Dungiven across three parliamentary constituencies.

As the consultation exercise closed today, the DUP highlighted that there are already a number of constituencies in Northern Ireland without a nationalist MLA and claimed any move to guarantee such representation would be the very definition of gerrymandering.

Mr Dodds accused Sinn Féin of trying to mask its failure to engage with the initial public consultation on the 2016 proposals.

"From 2016 until a few weeks ago there was silence from Sinn Féin in relation to this boundary review," said the North Belfast MP.

"Whilst the DUP submitted dozens of pages of detailed information Sinn Féin did not submit a single word. Instead Sinn Féin has resorted to a late campaign of hyperbole, stunt politics and sectarian arguments to cover for their inaction."

He added: "Whilst Sinn Féin have taken to the streets to protest about proposals 'splitting' the town of Dungiven, they made no comment about earlier proposals impacting upon towns like Carryduff, Lisburn, Portadown, Dungannon, Ballymena and Coleraine.

"Each one of those towns would either have been split between two parliamentary constituencies or would have been separated from their immediate hinterland. There wasn't even an email to the Boundary Commission from Sinn Fein about this let alone a white line picket."

Northern Ireland is losing one constituency as part of wider Government plans to reduce the number of seats in the UK from 650 to 600.

How the reduction from 18 to 17 seats is achieved has become the source of political controversy.

The revised proposals ditch a plan to cut the number of seats in Belfast from four to three.

The next step in the process will see the commission submit a final version of the map to the Government, which will add it to plans to reshape the rest of the UK's electoral map. MPs are set to vote on the overall package in the autumn.