Sunday 18 March 2018

We don't have enough TDs and must redraw constituencies again

Housing and Local Planning Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Arthur Carron
Housing and Local Planning Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Arthur Carron
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The country does not have enough TDs and officials will have to redraw a number of constituency boundaries based on the new Census data.

For the first time the number of TDs is constitutionally too low, with 25 constituencies under-represented.

The problem is worst in Dublin but Galway, parts of Cork, Cavan-Monaghan, Kildare and Laois have less than one TD per 30,000 residents as set down in the Constitution.

Housing and Local Planning Minister Simon Coveney yesterday issued an ministerial order establishing a Constituency Commission to study the boundaries for Dáil and European elections.

It will be chaired by Chief Justice Robert Haughton.

Based on the preliminary population count of 4,757,976 people and the current total of 158 TDs, the average number of persons per TD for the country as a whole is 30,114.

"Clearly there will have to be at least more TDs to bring us back under 30,000," said Deirdre Cullen, senior official with the Central Statistics Office.

The constituency with the largest ratio of residents to TDs is Dublin North-West with 32,299. Dublin Central has 32,016 persons per TD and Dublin Rathdown has 31,375.

At the other end of the scale, Limerick County has a TD for every 27,916 residents.

The fastest growing constituency is Dublin Fingal which saw its population increase by 10,596 over five years.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's Mayo constituency was one of just four to witness a fall in their population. The other three were Sligo-Leitrim, Donegal and Limerick County.

A major redrawing of constituencies took place ahead of this year's election but boundaries are now likely to be reset again.

Ms Cullen said the CSO would be handing over data to the commission today - but ultimately their decisions would be based on the final Census report.

"They proceed with that work. It typically takes them about a year, once they get the definiti ve results next March.

"The definitive results will be very, very close to the preliminary results. They'll sign off on that work and it's up to the Dáil then to accept those figures," Ms Cullen said. "To have the whole state over the 30,000 limit is a new situation."

Along with Mr Justice Haughton, the commission comprises of the Clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan, the Clerk of the Seanad Deirdre Lane, the Ombudsman Peter Tyndall and the Secretary General of the Department of Environment John McCarthy.

They are required to report to the Dáil no later than three months after the final figures are published by the CSO.

Irish Independent

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