Wednesday 20 February 2019

Six new county districts proposed

Anna Hayes

County Wexford could be about to increase its number of electoral districts, jumping from four to six, with Wexford town benefiting from additional councillors in their area.

Recommendations have been made by the Boundary Committee following a review of all local electoral areas across the country which was set up with a view to revising election areas. The committee, set up by Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform John Paul Phelan, was instructed to have regard to the Census 2016 results and to assume no change in total membership of each local authority. Areas, it was directed, should have no less than five councillors and no more than seven. In certain circumstances, three or four-seat areas could be recommended in accordance with population and geographic size of the area.

Submissions were accepted until February and the committee was given until June 13 to bring a report to the Minister. The last review was carried out in 2013 ahead of local authority changes and the abolition of town and borough councils.

Wexford town based councillors, who number four of the current ten councillor Wexford Borough District council, have frequently expressed their frustration at the under-representation of constituents in the town areas. In 2014, with the abolition of the town councils, Wexford town went from being a 12-seat borough council to a ten-seat borough and district council, a move which town-based councillors have lamented since the chance occurred.

According to Census 2016, County Wexford has a population of 149,722, with the largest settlement being Wexford town, representing 13% of the population at 20,188.

With that increased population, spread across 34 members, the individual average population per member in the county is 4,404.

The new electoral areas will be Gorey, Kilmuckridge, Enniscorthy, Wexford, Kilmore and New Ross. For the purpose of municipal meetings, Kilmuckridge will combine with Enniscorthy, and Kilmore will combine with Wexford. The breakdown of councillors across the county will be: six in Enniscorthy, six in Gorey, five in Kilmore, four in Kilmuckridge, six in New Ross, and seven in Wexford.

Effectively, both Gorey and Enniscorthy District councils are losing two councillors each to the Kilmuckridge district, while New Ross will lose two local representatives and see traditionally New Ross areas, like Clongeen, Bannow and Ballymitty moving into the Kilmore local area.

The committee made the recommendations, saying the new areas should have a focus around urban centres.

The Wexford electoral area will encompass the town and its environs as far as Ardcolm, Killurin, and down to parts of Drinagh and Rathaspeck not covered in the Kilmore area.

Meanwhile, Kilmore will take in the locations between the points of Our Lady's Island, Bannow, Taghmon and Drinagh. Considering that a number of the current Wexford district councillors hail from locations within this new area, there will be considerable interest in candidates ahead of next year's Local Elections.

The newly established Kilmuckridge district will include Ballycanew, Ballygarrett, Cahore, and will stretch down as far as Edermine and Castle Ellis.

Formerly areas that would have been discussed at Gorey meetings, the area will now join up with the Enniscorthy district.

Enniscorthy Guardian