Sweeping changes proposed in make-up of constituencies


ANALYSIS:THE NUMBER of TDs has been cut by eight to 158 by the Constituency Commission, which has also recommended a reduction in the number of constituencies from 43 to 40.

The commission, which yesterday submitted its report to the Dáil, has recommended sweeping changes in the current constituency make-up.

The Dublin, Munster and Connacht-Ulster regions have lost three seats each, while an extra seat has been allocated to Laois-Offaly, with the two counties becoming individual constituencies for the first time in the history of the State.

Counties Kerry, Tipperary and Donegal have been formed into three individual five-seat constituencies, replacing the six three-seat constituencies into which they were formerly divided.

Two existing three-seat Dublin constituencies, North Central and North East, have also been merged to form one five-seater, Dublin Bay North.

On the other side of the city the old five-seat Dublin South has lost two seats and is now a new three-seat Dublin Rathdown.

Dublin South Central has lost a seat while Dublin South West has gained one. The old Dublin North has also gained a seat and been renamed Dublin Fingal.

The Taoiseach’s constituency of Mayo has lost a seat, while part of east Galway has been merged with Roscommon to form a new constituency.

Cavan-Monaghan has lost one of its five seats but Sligo-Leitrim has been restored as a four-seat constituency, with the addition of parts of Cavan and south Donegal.

There will be 11 five-seat, 16-four-seat and 13 three-seat constituencies at the next election.

Carlow Kilkenny:No change

Cavan Monaghan: Drops from a five- to a four-seater, with a chunk of west Cavan from Arvagh over to Glangevlin with a population of 13,183 moving to Sligo-Leitrim. Fine Gael will have huge difficulty retaining its three seats.

Clare:No change.

Cork East:No change.

Cork North Central:Gains a significant portion of neighbouring Cork South Central with a transfer of 17,307 people, while losing a third of that number. No change in the number of TDs as the extra population is required to keep it a four-seater. Should not affect any of the four existing TDs.

Cork North West:Gains 5,048 people in four electoral divisions from Cork North Central to keep its current status as a three-seater. Minimal impact.

Cork South Central:The most significant change in the Cork area: this constituency will lose a seat as a result of a large slice of territory around Bishopstown being transferred to North Central. Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer appears to be hardest hit but Labour’s Ciarán Lynch or Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath could lose out instead. Simon Coveney and Micheál Martin are the only ones who appear to be safe.

Cork South West:No change.

Donegal:Massive changes with the creation of a new five-seater instead of the existing two three-seaters. Was a single eight-seat constituency from 1923 until 1933 but has been divided in two since then. Nine electoral divisions containing 8,779 people in the south of the county around Ballyshannon are transferred to Sligo-Leitrim. If all six outgoing TDs run again, one has to lose out and the battle appears to be between Independent Tom Pringle and Fine Gael’s Dinny McGinley.

Dublin Bay North:A new constituency created by the merger of two three-seaters, North Central and North East, which stretches from Donnycarney to Ireland’s Eye. A piece of territory around Portmarnock containing 9,549 people has been transferred to Dublin Fingal, but otherwise it’s a merger of the two old constituencies. Labour has three seats in the constituency at present and would appear to have little chance of retaining them all. Fianna Fáil has good chance of recovering a seat.

Dublin Bay South:The old Dublin South East constituency gets a population infusion of 12,563 from Dublin South Central, with a swathe of Terenure and Kimmage being transferred to keep it a four-seater. It is good news for Eoghan Murphy of Fine Gael and for Kevin Humphreys of Labour, who face a battle to retain their seats in competition with ministerial colleagues Lucinda Creighton and Ruairí Quinn.

Dublin Central:Further big changes in the constituency of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, which went from a five- to a four-seater last time around. It has now lost another seat, along with the transfer of chunks of territory to Dublin West and North West. The famous landmark of St Luke’s is now barely in the constituency. Which of the four sitting TDs will lose out is anyone’s guess.

Dublin Fingal:The old Dublin North has gained territory containing 26,840 people and an extra seat. The transfer of a large area around Swords from Dublin West means the town and its environs are now reunited in the same constituency. The extra seat is good news for Senator Darragh O’Brien of Fianna Fáil, who has hopes of recovering his seat, and it also relieves pressure on Alan Farrell of Fine Gael and Brendan Ryan of Labour.

Dublin Mid West:No change

Dublin North West:A transfer of 11,056 people from Dublin Central was necessary to keep the constituency up to the population required for a three-seater. It should not adversely affect any of the three sitting TDs.

Dublin Rathdown:Probably the biggest shock in the entire revision is the cutting down to size of the old Dublin South. It had been a five-seater for the past 30 years, but has now been renamed after the old barony and reduced to a three-seater. Over 13,000 people in the Leopardstown, Foxrock, Cabinteely area have been moved back to Dún Laoghaire, while almost 40,000 people living in a stretch from Ballyboden to Rathfarnham move to Dublin South West. Labour’s Alex White and Fine Gael’s Peter Mathews could struggle, and even last time’s poll-topper Shane Ross may not be safe in this volatile constituency.

Dublin South Central:Loses a seat because a chunk of its territory has gone to shore up neighbouring Dublin Bay South. The two Labour TDs Michael Conaghan and Eric Byrne and Fine Gael’s Catherine Byrne will battle to hold two seats for the Government.

Dublin South West:The infusion of population from Dublin South makes this a five-seater. A relief for all of the sitting TDs, which may enable Labour to hold on to its two seats, but Fianna Fáil will be looking to regain a seat here.

Dublin West:Loses over 17,000 people to Dublin Fingal around Swords but gains over 13,000 from Dublin Central around Ashtown and the Navan Road to keep it a four-seater. The changes don’t have any obvious implications for any of the current four TDs.

Dún Laoghaire:Retains its four seats with the addition of areas along the Stillorgan Road it lost to Dublin South in the last revision. With Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett being returned automatically, it would be an effective three-seater next time. That could put ULA TD Richard Boyd Barrett under pressure.

Galway East:One of the most extensive redrawings in the plan, with the constituency losing a seat and 20,521 people to the new Roscommon-Galway. The town of Ballinasloe is no longer in Galway East. It means that one of the current TDs will lose a seat. Fine Gael’s Paul Connaughton could be under pressure as his home base of Mountbellew has been cut in half, but any existing TD could lose out.

Galway West:Retains its five seats but a slice of south Mayo around Ballinrobe with a population of over 10,000 has been moved into the constituency to keep it a five-seater. No obvious impact on the current make-up.

Kerry:Two three-seaters are merged into a new five-seat constituency. The county was one constituency up to 1933 but has been split since then. A large part of Co Limerick was attached to North Kerry in the last revision but county boundaries have now been restored. Which of the six TDs will lose out is not clear, but the Independents Tom Fleming and Michael Healy-Rae could struggle.

Kildare North:Loses a small slice of territory to Kildare South but remains a four-seat constituency. The revision will have no impact on current representation.

Kildare South:Remains a three-seater while losing over 7,000 people to the new Laois constituency. No major impact on sitting TDs.

Laois:One of the big changes in the revision. Laois becomes a constituency in its own right for the first time in the history of the State due to the huge increase in population. It only required a small slice of Kildare South to give it the required population for a three-seater. Should help all existing Laois TDs, although Brian Stanley of Sinn Féin will miss Offaly votes.

Limerick City:Remains a four-seater with the addition of 11,197 people from the adjacent part of the county around Castleconnell, Cappamore and Caherconlish. Should have no impact on representation.

Limerick County:The 18 electoral divisions with a population of 13,352 that were annexed to Kerry North in the last revision have been reunited with Limerick. Will remain a three- seater and won’t affect Dáil representation.

Longford-Westmeath:No change.

Louth:No change.

Mayo:One of the big surprises is the loss of a seat in the Taoiseach’s constituency to make this a four-seater, with the area around Ballinrobe transferring to Galway West. It means Fine Gael will not be able to retain its current four seats. With Enda Kenny and Michael Ring almost certain to win re-election John O’Mahony or Michelle Mulherin will struggle to remain in the Dáil. O’Mahony may decide to run for the European Parliament in 2014.

Meath East:No change.

Meath West:No change.

Offaly:Hived off from the rapidly expanding Laois, it becomes a single-county constituency for the first time, but requires a chunk of Tipperary to give it the required population for a three-seater. In the last revision, part of Offaly was transferred to Tipperary but the reverse has occurred this time, with 24 electoral divisions with a population of almost 11,000 in the area north of Nenagh, including the town of Borrisokane, being included in Offaly. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil each has a seat and there is an opening for a new TD.

Roscommon-Galway:The change here is that a portion of east Galway has been attached to Roscommon in place of south Leitrim. Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan, who comes from the north of the county near Leitrim, will face the stiffest battle to hold on.

Sligo-Leitrim:The people of Leitrim have got their wish to have the county reunited as part of a new Sligo-Leitrim configuration as a four-seater. The addition of west Cavan and south Donegal has added a new dimension to the constituency. The two sitting Fine Gael TDs from Sligo John Perry and Tony McLoughlin as well as Sinn Féin’s Michael Colreavy from Leitrim should be safe, but there is an opportunity for a Fianna Fáil comeback for the last seat.

Tipperary:It was a single constituency until 1948. It is now back as a five-seater but is missing a slice in the northern part of the county, which has gone to Offaly. Three Independent TDs – Michael Lowry, Mattie McGrath and Séamus Healy – will battle it out with the main parties to try and retain their seats, with Lowry the only one of them safe. Fine Gael’s Noel Coonan and Labour’s Alan Kelly will also be under pressure.

Waterford:A small portion of Waterford south of Clonmel, which was part of the old South Tipperary constituency, has returned to the county but won’t affect electoral politics in the county.

Wexford:No change.

Wicklow:No change.