Constituency changes and locations of extra Dáil seats will not be decided until summer 2023

Government decision to await final results of census 2022 signals it intends to stay in office for full term

The new Electoral Commission will not decide the constituency changes for the next general election until the summer of 2023 at the earliest, Minister for Housing and Local Government Darragh O’Brien has confirmed.

Mr O’Brien has said the commission will not begin work on constituency changes until the full results of census 2022 are available next year.

It marks a change from recent practice where the Constituency Commission decided on changes for the Dáil and European elections on foot of preliminary results of the census, which are published at least a year earlier.

That happened in 2016 when the Constituency Commission was established on the same day as the preliminary census results were published.


The confirmation by Mr O’Brien, in a parliamentary reply to Tipperary Labour TD Alan Kelly, indicates that the three-party Coalition is confident it will serve a full term in office until 2025.

There will be big changes in constituencies in advance of the next cycle of elections. A significant growth in population will result in at least 11 extra seats in the Dáil, and possibly 19.

The new Electoral Reform Act provides for the establishment of an Electoral Commission, the duties of which will include constituency reviews.

Under the Act, the commission must publish its final review of Dáil and European Parliament constituencies within three months of the publication of final census results. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is expected to publish the final results of the census in spring 2023.

Earlier this year, the Government gave approval for 169-179 seats in the new Dáil.

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

The change will reverse the dramatic reduction in seats sanctioned by the Fine Gael-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 reflects the significant population growth in the State over the past decade.

The CSO confirmed in August last year that the State’s population had exceeded five million for the first time since 1851. The census data is expected to show further population growth in the intervening period.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times