Sunday 17 December 2017

New constituencies map gives boost to Donohoe at expense of FG colleague

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe benefits from the boundary changes. Photo: Tom Burke
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe benefits from the boundary changes. Photo: Tom Burke

Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

A redrawing of constituency boundaries in north Dublin has given a major boost to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe at the expense of his Fine Gael colleague Noel Rock.

The first-time TD faces a major uphill battle to retain his Dublin North West seat as one in five of his first-preference voters will be transferred to Dublin Central.

The Constituency Commission has recommended a series of boundary changes around the country - with Mr Rock being one of the biggest casualties.

In contrast, Mr Donohoe welcomed the change, which will not only see a significant increase in the number of people who voted Fine Gael at the last election in Dublin Central, but also an extra seat in the constituency.

"It is a reminder to all of us in political life that your fortunes can be significantly influenced by things beyond your control, or the mark of a pen on a map that is beyond your control. The new boundaries are a welcome change for me. But as is always the case in politics you can't take anything for certain," he said.

Mr Rock said the changes were "disappointing". He was a big winner on a bad day for Fine Gael last year, taking one of three seats alongside the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall and Sinn Féin's Dessie Ellis.

Noel Rock is one of the biggest casualties. Photo: Tom Burke
Noel Rock is one of the biggest casualties. Photo: Tom Burke

"I can't overstate the scale of this challenge but I also can't overstate my absolute determination to match this challenge," he told the Irish Independent.

Former junior minister Seán Canney expressed concerns that the redrawing of constituencies in the west of Ireland could lead to a lower turnout.

His Galway East constituency is to lose 8,650 voters to Roscommon-Galway but will take in 4,547 from Galway West.

Another 4,893 Galway West residents will see their ballots moved to Mayo.

"The changes will just create more confusion. There are people who don't know who they are voting for. They were confused last time and now changing it again so quickly will add to that," Mr Canney said.

"There needs to be some stability. There is a risk that people will get fed up and just not bother. People could become disenfranchised by this."

Former Tánaiste Joan Burton has confirmed she will run in the next election after the commission declined to make any changes to the Dublin West constituency.

"I'm delighted that for the first time in my memory Dublin West hasn't received a 20pc change. It stays exactly as it was.

"I think, in general, the people designing it tried to make as little change as possible," the Labour Party TD said.

Cavan-Monaghan and Kildare South are to gain a seat, while Laois-Offaly is to be brought back together with the loss of one seat.

Irish Independent

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