Number of Dáil seats to reach record high after next election

Proposal approved for seat range between 169 and 179 to reflect population growth

Dáil chamber: change constitutes an increase of a minimum of nine seats on the current Dáil which has 160 TDs. Photograph: Alan Betson

The number of Dáil seats after the next general election will be a minimum of 169, the highest number in the history of the State.

The Government gave approval on Wednesday to a proposal that the seat range in the next Dáil be between 169 and 179.

That constitutes an increase of a minimum of nine seats on the current Dáil which has 160 TDs.

Minister for Housing and Local Government Darragh O’Brien brought a memo to Cabinet seeking the change.


He sought approval to amend the Electoral Reform Bill (currently) before the Cabinet, as well as the Electoral Act 1997.

The Bill will provide for the establishment of an electoral commission. Following the publication of the census results, it will decide on the number of seats in the next Dáil.


However, the Government has determined that it can recommend a range of between 169 and 179, depending on population growth.

The change will reverse the dramatic reduction in seats that was sanctioned by the Fine Gael and Labour coalition between 2011 and 2016. The number of seats was reduced from 166 to 158, but rose again to 160 for the 2020 election.

The Government has said the substantial increase in seats – which could be as many as 19 – reflects the significant population growth in the State over the past decade.

Last year, the population exceeded 5 million for the first time since 1851. The data from census 2022 is expected to show further population growth in the intervening period.

A number of appointments have also been announced to the courts following the Cabinet meeting. Solicitors Michelle Finan and Conor Fottrell have been appointed as District Court judges, barrister Kenneth Connolly has been appointed to the Circuit Court, and High Court judge Senan Allen has been appointed to the Court of Appeal.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times