Population growth in Census 2022 could require at least 11 new TDs to be appointed

All but one of 39 Dáil constituencies now have in excess of 30,000 people for every TD, according to preliminary census figures

Photograph: Alan Betson, Irish Times Staff Photographer.

 Leinster House
Photo taken on 28/3/07

The increase in the State’s population since 2016 has resulted in 38 of the 39 Dáil constituencies having more than 30,000 people represented by each TD, preliminary Census 2022 results show.

This could result in a requirement for a greater number of TDs because there are currently 160 TDs and, under the Constitution, there must be one TD for every 20,000 to 30,000 people.

The number of people per member of the Dáil stands at 32,022, up from 29,762 in 2016.

Political analyst Odran Flynn has called for a change to the Constitution because the increase in the population in this year’s census would result in a requirement for at least 11 more TDs.

He believes that the country is already “significantly over-represented” by TDs compared with the number of elected representatives per population in other western democracies.

“Theoretically, you could have 250 TDs under the Constitution but there has to be a minimum of 171 based on the current population size in this census,” he said.

“If they don’t change the Constitution, the number of TDs is going to increase in every single census given the pattern of population increase we have seen in every census.”

Census 2022 shows that the constituency with the highest number of people for each TD was Dublin Fingal, a five-seater constituency, with 34,138 people per representative in the Dáil.

This was followed by Dublin Rathdown in South Dublin, a three-seater constituency with 33,718 people per TD, and Kildare North, a four-seater with 33,589 people per TD.

Limerick County, a three-seat constituency, had the lowest number of people per TD with 29,826. It was the only constituency with less than 30,000 people per TD.

The fastest-growing Dáil constituency was Meath East, where the population increased by 11,493 people or 13 per cent since the last census in 2016. The three-seat constituency is home to Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne.

All 39 constituencies showed an increase in population in line with the population growth across the country with every county recording an increase in the last six years.

The slowest-growing constituencies were Dublin Bay South, where the population increased by 5 per cent, Limerick County 4 per cent and Donegal 4 per cent.

This Census 2022 data will be provided to the Electoral Commission, which determines the make-up of constituencies across the State, and the commission’s report on revised constituency boundaries is expected to be completed in the summer of 2023 and based on the final census results.