THE proposed merger of Dingle and Killorglin into a new voting district has left many in West Kerry pondering whether or not the area will continue to be represented by a local candidate following the next round of council elections in May 2014.
The report of the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee has recommended that Dingle and Killorglin be amalgamated into a new voting district – a recommendation which has been accepted by Environment Minister Phil Hogan.
The change would mean the Dingle Local Electoral Area (LEA) would cease to exist and the new South and West Kerry electoral area would be represented by nine councillors. There are currently three councillors in the Dingle LEA and five sitting councillors in the Killorglin area.
This move has caused concern in West Kerry with many wondering how any candidate from the area will manage to succeed in the council elections, given the huge geographical spread of the overall area and the fact that the vote of the relatively small population in the Dingle area could be negated within the vote transfer structure.
"It makes the electoral area very large; it will extend from Dún Chaoin in the west, Brandon and Castlegregory right down to Sneem and Kenmare," said Seamus Cosaí Fitzgerald, a sitting councillor in the Dingle LEA since 1999.
"It could potentially be very difficult for a West Kerry candidate to succeed in being elected due to the distance and difference in population involved and we will also be losing some of Camp to the new Tralee district," he added.
However, the Fine Gael councillor, who is understood to seeking nomination from his party to contest a fourth term, also said that an advantage in the new municipal voting district could exist with regard to drawing down EU funding for rural areas. However, he said that for now the proposed electoral boundary changes are "an unknown quantity".
Fianna Fáil's representative in West Kerry, Breandán Fitzgerald, said the move to amalgamate Dingle and Killorglin could potentially make it very difficult for the people of West Kerry to have proper representation.
"If you add this to the abolition of democratic elections for Údarás na Gaeltachta you have to worry about the voice of Corca Dhuibhne being heard by the powers that be," he said.
"As I have said already I will be looking for a Fianna Fáil nomination to contest the Local Election next year, the only thing this change does is to make me more determined," he added.
The Dingle Local Electoral Area is currently represented by Fine Gael councillors Seamus Cosaí Fitzgerald of Dingle, Matt Griffin of Keel, who was co-opted onto the council following Brendan Griffin's election as a TD, and Fianna Fáil's Mícheál O'Shea of Milltown.