Ireland is likely to gain one additional seat in the European Parliament when its constitutional committee meets next week to vote on seat allocation for the next assembly.
At present, Ireland has 13 seats in the 705-seat assembly. However, as Census 2022 recorded that the population has crept over five million, it has meant that Ireland is one of nine states among the 27 members to have experienced population growth.
Scenarios being worked on by the parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs show Ireland gaining one seat to bring the total to 14, even if there is no overall increase in the numbers of MEPs.
The Committee, which deals with EU institutional matters, will vote next week on recommending how many seats will be in the next assembly – and how the seats will be allocated. A full plenary session of parliament later this month will make the final decision.
Four scenarios will be presented to the committee. The first is a status quo proposal where the number of seats for all countries remain the same irrespective of population change. A table of options distributed to MEPs describe that as not respecting the criteria of the European Treaty.
The second is for the parliament to remain at 705 seats but for a reallocation to reflect population changes. In those circumstances, three countries would gain seats – Spain (2); Ireland (1) and Netherlands (1) – while four countries – Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Lithuania – would lose out.
The most likely scenario is one proposed by the rapporteur to the committee which would see the total number of seats increase to 716, with seven countries gaining seats. They would be Spain (2); Netherlands (2), Austria, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Ireland, Slovenia, and Latvia (1 each). No country would lose seats.
The fourth scenario would see the number of seats increase to 723. In that situation, Ireland would gain two seats and 13 states in all would gain extra MEPs.
However, South MEP Sean Kelly is of the view that it is very unlikely that option would be voted through.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Mr Kelly said it was probable Ireland would get an extra seat for the next legislative term which will run between 2024 and 2029.
“We will have a much clearer idea when the EU Parliament Constitutional Committee votes on these proposals next week,” he said.
If Ireland gains an extra seat, it is likely that it will go to the Midlands-North West constituency which has four seats at present. It would involve an extra county being added to the constituency, which already comprises 13 counties. The most likely county to be added is Offaly, although there is an outside possibility that Clare could be added instead.
If the latter were to happen, it would mean that Midlands- North West would include counties from each of the four provinces of Ireland.