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Saturday 17 March 2018

Boundary redraw for TDs may hit Kenny's home turf

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Plans for redrawing electoral boundaries could put two out of four Fine Gael seats at risk in the Taoiseach's constituency.

Fears about the future of Enda Kenny's Mayo power base were voiced last night by his running mate, Junior Minister Michael Ring, in advance of a promised constituency carve-up.

The reduction of the Taoiseach's county from a five-seat to a four-seat constituency is viewed as an opportunity for the body in charge of redrawing the electoral map to prove its independence.

But Deputy Ring said it would be 'undemocratic' if Mayo had the number of TDs slashed again, with part of the county being moved into another constituency.

The Constituency Commission report is expected to be published on June 21 and will include details on how the number of TDs will be reduced from 166 to 158.

Mayo was already reduced from six TDs to five in 1997, when the county was changed from two three-seat constituencies to one five-seat constituency.

Mr Ring said he has heard the speculation the constituency will again be reduced in numbers, with the south of the county -- his stronghold -- included in Galway West.

He said his constituents are concerned the move will go ahead and place a small part of the county in another constituency.

"I don't know what's going to happen, but to go breaking up Mayo won't make any sense. It happened before and it was impossible. It is effectively depriving people of representation in office.


"I'd be shocked and disappointed if it did that. I'd be concerned about that. People have expressed the view they would be very annoyed if it did happen and would feel they are being deprived of democracy," he said.

The west of Ireland is expected to lose one seat, but the commission has to stay within the limits of one TD per 20,000-30,000 people.

Government sources believe the reduction in seat numbers will be difficult to sell, particularly to coalition TDs, and the Taoiseach's own patch taking a hit would quell any dissent.

But another senior figure in Government said it's unlikely Mr Kenny's own patch will be affected.

"I'd be really surprised if the Taoiseach does allow that to happen," the source said.

Irish Independent

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