New constituencies: winners and losers
The circumstances in which the next election takes place and the campaign itself could alter the political landscape
With the Dáil in recess the minority government is in no immediate danger so TDs have time to ponder the likely impact of the recent Constituency Commission report.
The Commission has increased the number of Dáil seats from 158 to 160, the maximum allowed under its terms of reference, and has reduced the number of constituencies from 40 to 39. There are significant changes in the boundaries of four Dáil constituencies, including the abolition of the three-seat Offaly constituency which has been merged back with Laois to form a five-seater. Other big changes see Dublin Central, Kildare South and Cavan Monaghan each gaining a seat. There are also a number of minor changes to constituency boundaries, which could have an impact on the outcome of the next election.
The increase in the number of seats in Dublin Central from three to four, involving the return of a significant number of middle class voters to the constituency, should help Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe retain the seat he won against the odds in 2016. Where the extra seat in Dublin Central will go is the big question. Fianna Fáil will be seeking to regain Bertie Ahern’s old seat, Sinn Féin will be looking to Mary Lou McDonald to bring in a running mate, while a variety of smaller parties and Independents will have aspirations to take the extra seat alongside sitting Independent Maureen O’Sullivan. Laois Offaly will be fascinating because Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin currently have two seats each and one of them is certain to lose out. In Cavan Monaghan Fine Gael senator Joe Reilly is the favourite to take the extra seat with the return of a large chunk of Cavan to the constituency.
Going by opinion polls there has not been any big shift in public opinion since the last election, so the outcome in every constituency will be critical. The circumstances in which the next election takes place and the nature of the campaign itself could alter the political landscape, but every wise sitting TD is working on the basis that his or her seat is in danger.