Parties back three Dublin seats in Europe
Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin favour retention of three-seat Dublin constituency
There is speculation within Fine Gael that the leadership would like Mayo TD John O’Mahony (above), a constituency colleague of Taoiseach Enda Kenny ’s , to run for a European seat.
Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin each want a looming revamp of Ireland’s European constituencies to keep the three-seater in Dublin with the remainder of the State divided into two four-seat constituencies on a north-south basis.
With the number of Irish seats in the European Parliament set to drop to 11 from 12, an ongoing constituency review will have a crucial bearing on next year’s election to the assembly.
The one-seat reduction comes under Lisbon Treaty rules following the accession of Croatia to the EU during the summer.
An independent constituency review committee chaired by Mr Justice John Cooke will report on its findings by September 29th. Although most of the main parties made submissions to the committee, Fianna Fáil did not.
In the Fine Gael submission, party general secretary Tom Curran said options built around a 3-4-4 solution were more compelling and practical but not without difficulty.
“Dublin is ideally set to remain as a three-seat constituency, and our preference is for the remaining counties to be split on a north-south axis.”
This is at odds with a personal submission from Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins, who suggests a “south-east” constituency stretching from Louth to Kerry. Mr Higgins wants to run again but there is speculation within the party that the leadership would like Mayo TD John O’Mahony, a constituency colleague of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to run for a European seat.
Mr Higgins’s proposed arrangement would disadvantage his colleague Mairéad McGuinness, who said in a personal submission that “the issue of territorial balance and geography” was important.
In a personal submission, former Minister of State for Europe Lucinda Creighton suggested the creation of 11 single-seat constituencies covering an average of between three and five counties.
Ms Creighton cited concern that the seat reduction would leave voters “even further removed from their MEPs” and said the solution was to create more manageable constituencies in terms of population and geography.
‘Coherent single constituency’
Labour made a joint submission from its MEPs, Emer Costello and Phil Prendergast, in which they said Dublin should remain a “coherent single constituency” with three seats.
Sinn Féin backed the 3-4-4 formulation with constituencies outside Dublin named “North West and North Leinster” and “Ireland South”.