Coalition TDs most at risk in radical constituency shake-up

 

A NUMBER of Government TDs face losing their seats at the next election due to a reduction in the size of the Dáil and a radical redrawing of constituency boundaries.

The Constituency Commission report published yesterday has recommended a cut in the number of TDs from 166 to 158 and in constituencies from 43 to 40.

Extensive boundary changes mean that Dublin, Munster and Connacht-Ulster will lose three seats each, while the Laois-Offaly region will gain a seat. Because of their overwhelming victory in last year’s general election Fine Gael and Labour TDs will be the most vulnerable.

One of the most dramatic changes is the reduction of the old Dublin South from a five- to a three-seat constituency that will be called Dublin Rathdown. Labour TD Alex White and Fine Gael TD Peter Mathews will be under severe pressure to hold the seats they won in 2011 but any of the current five TDs could lose out.

Dublin South Central loses a seat in the changes, and again the pressure will be on the Labour TDs Eric Byrne and Michael Conaghan and the Fine Gael TD Catherine Byrne.

There are also major changes on the north side of Dublin with the old North Central and North East constituencies being merged into a new five-seat Dublin Bay North. Labour has three TDs in this area and at least one of them is certain to lose out if they all contest the next election.

Dublin Central has been reduced to a three-seater while Dublin North, renamed Dublin Fingal, gets an extra seat to become a five-seater with the addition of the area around Swords.

Another big change involves the merging of six constituencies to form the three five-seat constituencies of Kerry, Tipperary and Donegal.

The Taoiseach’s constituency of Mayo loses a seat to become a four-seater. That will make it impossible for Fine Gael to retain its four seats. East Galway, which has lost a portion of the county to Roscommon, also loses a seat to become a three-seater.

Cork South Central has lost a seat and becomes a four-seater. It is home to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and his party’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath, who admitted it would be a challenge to retain his seat. Mr McGrath came fifth in the constituency in the last election.

Another constituency to lose a seat is Cavan Monaghan which drops to a four-seater. That will put huge pressure on the three Fine Gael TDs in the constituency.

Sligo Leitrim had better news, being restored as a four-seat constituency with Leitrim reunited after a strong campaign by residents. Part of west Cavan and south Donegal have been included in the constituency.