Constituency review: ‘Wicklow-Wexford’ fails to excite shoppers around Arklow

Some people in Arklow, Gorey and Enniscorthy were sceptical about the change

Apathy was the most striking attitude expressed on the streets of south Wicklow and north Wexford on Wednesday as news broke that they were to be moved to a new Dáil constituency.

The Electoral Commission has proposed that existing constituencies of Wicklow and Wexford each lose a Dáil seat.

Wicklow would lose 31 electoral districts in the south of the county and a population of 35,708 people to the new constituency of Wicklow–Wexford, while Wexford would lose 41 electoral districts and 59,743 voters.

The new constituency would run from just south of Wicklow Town to just south of Kilmuckridge. It would include Rathdrum, Aughrim and Tinahealy in Co Wicklow. It would also take in Bunclody, Courtown and most of Co Wexford that lies north of Enniscorthy, although Enniscorthy town would remain in the Wexford constituency.


In Arklow shoppers were sceptical the new constituency would be any better than current arrangements.

Local resident John Rooney said the town had no locally based TDs and “Arklow has been forgotten”. He said Arklow’s main street is dying and pointed to a long delay in the provision of a waste water treatment plant for the town.


Ken Ross, an electrical contractor based in Tinahealy who was shopping at Arklow’s Bridgewater Centre, took exception to the proposals because they would increase the overall number of TDs by 14. “Greater Manchester, with a population of five million people is run by about 20 councillors,” he said.

Mr Ross said there should be a referendum to ask people if they want more TDs. He said he did not think a new constituency would make things better. “They can’t build a hospital. They are not fit for purpose,” he said of politicians.

Resident Ann Marie O’Brien said the reason there had never been a TD from Arklow is because the town “just isn’t behind them”. Ms O’Brien said shops in Arklow had shut and it had become “a commuting town”. She said she was hopeful a new constituency with more local representatives “might help”.

Just over the county boundary in Wexford, Niall O’Sullivan from Tara Hill, near Gorey, was more hopeful. Mr O’Sullivan – who said he would normally vote for Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael – said there were “strong links” between people in north Wexford and south Wicklow. In terms of commuting to work he said more people go north to Co Wicklow and Dublin than would go south to Wexford and it would be “a good thing” to have Dáil representation that was “more focused on the area”.

In Gorey shopper Liz Pope said she did not know if the new constituency arrangements would make a difference, as she knew little of the Dáil representatives. However, she said “that little Simon fella from Greystones” and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had handled the Covid crisis well.

In Enniscorthy Sandra Donohoe said she had heard the area was to be split by the new constituency arrangements and she felt it would be “very bad” for the town. “I’m not a native but it can’t have hurt the place to have three TDs sitting here now,” she said.

James Browne of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael’s Paul Keogh and Johnny Mythen of Sinn Féin are all based in Enniscorthy. Ms Donohoe said “if their support comes from the north, it could get very interesting”.

John Hennessy, also from Enniscorthy, said the new constituency boundaries could split the town. “There are three TDs here,” he said. “Fine if they get the three seats in the new constituency, but I think some will be encouraged to stand in Wexford, not this new one. There are now five TDs in Bray and Greystones and three in Enniscorthy with no TD in between,” he said.

Constituency Review 2023
Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist