TDs and constituency rivals have mixed views on proposed changes


REACTION:SITTING TDs and constituency rivals could see both positives and negatives in the boundary changes yesterday.

Donegal, Limerick, Offaly and Cork are among the counties most affected, along with Kerry, which would merge from two constituencies into a five-seater.

The most senior politician in the region, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, a Fine Gael TD in north Kerry, has welcomed the revision, which sees Limerick West, currently joined with Kerry North, return to Limerick.

“In a way it is a better solution than bringing in Limerick, which involves a different county council. It’s more cohesive from a representational point of view.”

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris, who also represents Kerry North and Limerick West from his base near Tralee, said the “huge constituency” would present difficulties but his party would rise to them.

Michael Healy-Rae, one of two Independents in Kerry South, had written to the Constituency Commission in 2011 urging that Kerry South, with its “extremely large diversity of countryside”, remain as a single constituency. He also pointed to the difficulties of managing such a large county.

There was a similarly mixed reaction to the planned division of Laois-Offaly’s five-seat constituency into two three-seat constituencies.

Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan, whose family has a long tradition of public representation in Laois-Offaly, described the decision to split the constituency as “disappointing”.

“From a personal point of view I find it very sad, but I accept the new reality.”

Offaly County Council chairman Peter Ormond (FF) welcomed the proposals, but admitted it would be difficult for the people of northwest Tipperary.

Suzanne Doyle (FF) of Kildare County Council admitted “it is not feasible perhaps any longer to identify ourselves around county boundaries”.

However, she believed a system where local councillors represented on local issues while neighbouring TDs dealt with national issues could lead to a lack of “consistency of administration”.

In Tipperary North, Ger Darcy (FG), a councillor, said the changes would affect Tipperary North’s TDs. “You would imagine they could keep the county boundaries intact as much as possible.”

He said the people of northwest Tipperary were not happy with the changes.

Laois’s Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley criticised the proposal to cut the number of TDs.

He said “reducing the number of TDs only restricts representation, consolidates power around larger parties and further restricts minority views”.

In Limerick, former minister for defence and Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea welcomed the return of his “old territory” to the Limerick City constituency.

“In the last revision I lost up to 4,000 votes. Now I’m getting some of them back in my home area . . . Kilteely, Hospital Murroe, Cappamore, all those places were taken out, but, thankfully, with the support of the people of Limerick city I survived.”

Fine Gael’s Patrick O’Donovan said he believed the county border should never have been breached.

“There’s good news and bad news, but the overall thing is the county border has been respected and that’s hugely important.”