Friday 24 November 2017

TDs fear for jobs as eight seats to vanish in redraw of constituencies

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

TDs across the country are waiting with "bated breath" for the publication of a report with the potential to make or break their chances of getting re-elected.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's constituency of Mayo is particularly under the spotlight, with a distinct possibility that it will be reduced to a four-seat constituency.

And the political map of Dublin city will get its most dramatic changes in decades.

The Constituency Commission's report will cut the number of TDs by eight and redraw large swathes of the political map right across the country.

The report is due to be published this morning after it has been presented to Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said yesterday that everybody in Leinster House was waiting with "bated breath" for the report.

With tongue firmly in cheek, Mr Kenny reassured Mr McGrath that Tipperary was not going in with Clare.

The publication will bring an end to months of intense speculation, which reached fever pitch yesterday, with TDs nervously seeking any nugget of information.

Among the moves speculated about last night -- which come with a heavy health warning as nothing is certain yet -- were:

• Mayo going down to a four-seater and losing turf to Galway West.

• North and South Leitrim being reunited into one constituency of Sligo-Leitrim.

• Roscommon taking in a large chunk of east Galway.

• Galway East reducing to a three-seater, while also taking in Oranmore from Galway West.

• Cork South-Central reducing to a four-seater, with Bishopstown transferring to Cork North-Central.

• Kerry and Tipperary being merged into two five-seaters, with Donegal also in the frame -- however, this is less certain.

• Laois and Offaly being separated into two three-seaters.

• Dublin South-West going up to a five-seater, taking in part of Dublin South around Ballyboden and Rathfarnham.

• Dublin South being dramatically reduced from a five-seater to a three-seater.

• Dublin North-Central and Dublin North-East merging into a five-seater.

All eyes, however, will be on the Taoiseach's constituency of Mayo.

Junior Minister Michael Ring has already told the Irish Independent it would be undemocratic if the county had its number of TDs cut again, with part of the county being cut off.

But 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.

Independence

Any move on Mayo would put Mr Kenny in danger of losing two of the four Fine Gael seats in the constituency.

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

"It would be the first time that the Taoiseach's own constituency had been hit. If anybody whinges about changes, it would be said that it's affecting the Taoiseach too," a minister said.

"If Galway is tampered with and Mayo is not, then there will be a story," another source said.

Irish Independent

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