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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Leah Farrell/ Minister for Transport, Climate, Environment & Communications Eamon Ryan.

Eamon Ryan not concerned about constituency redraws and says Greens in 'good health' ahead of next election

The Minister for Transport said he believes the Electoral Commission “got it right” in trying to adhere to county boundaries in yesterday’s redraw.

GREEN PARTY LEADER Eamon Ryan has said he believes the Electoral Commission did a “very good job” with yesterday’s constituency review and added that the Greens are in good shape ahead of the next elections. 

Yesterday, the Electoral Commission recommended that Ireland increase its number of constituencies from 39 to 43. 

As part of this, the country will see the number of three-seat constituencies increase from nine to 13; the number of four seat ones reduce from 17 to 15; and the number of five seat ones increase from 13 to 15. 

For smaller parties or independent candidates it is more difficult to compete in smaller constituencies as the quota is lower, at 25% in three-seaters.

This compares to a quota of 16.6% of the votes in a five-seater, which can favour smaller parties sneaking into the final seats.

When asked today by The Journal if he thinks smaller parties will be disadvantaged by the new configuration, Ryan said it was “swings and roundabouts”. 

“There are some constituencies where we’ll be very glad that there’s an extra seat and others where it’s going to be very difficult,” the Minister said. 

“Our main sense yesterday is we’re in good stead as a party. We’re going to give the next local and European elections first our all, that’s the most important thing – they come first and then the general election after that.”

Ryan said the Greens have over 100 candidates prepared to run already for the local elections next May. This is up from 82 in the 2019 local elections.

“Our own party is in very good health, a very good position, we’ve over 100 candidates already selected for the local elections, we are going to select a lot more,” Ryan said.

Constituency of death

Elsewhere, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said today on RTE Radio 1′s Morning Ireland that he intends to seek reelection in the newly reduced Wicklow constituency. 

Yesterday, the Electoral Commission recommended the creation of a new Wicklow-Wexford constituency made up of 3 seats which will result in Harris’s Wicklow constituency being reduced from a five-seater to a four-seater area.

The Journal reported yesterday that the Wicklow constituency will be a bloodbath in the next general election with the five sitting TDs being forced into a dogfight for the four seats in the constituency. 

With the loss of Arklow to the new Wicklow-Wexford constituency, Sinn Fein’s John Brady, who topped the poll in the last general election with over 17,000 first preference votes, is expected to see a drop in votes.

Some speculate he could lose around 4,000 votes, however, the TD is expected to be safe in the next election.

Speaking today, Minister Harris showed no sign of concern over the impact the boundary change might have on his votes. 

Anytime I’ve asked the people of Wicklow to elect me they have been good enough to do so.

“You never take your neighbors, friends, community for granted but I look forward to seeking reelection in Wicklow in the next election,” he said. 

Fellow Wicklow TD and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly was also asked today about his view on the change to his constituency. 

Donnelly had made a submission to the Electoral Commission ahead of its review asking that the entire county of Wicklow be kept as one constituency.

“It’s always easier as a county boundary because you’re lined up to the local authority for example. It’s always more difficult for TDs and Councilors when there are several county Councils involved in any one constituency.

“So yes, I would have liked Arklow to stay there within the Wicklow constituency. I love the town, I always have,” Donnelly said. 

He continued: “But look, these things change all the time. Maybe Arklow will be brought back in after the next revision, I don’t know.”

When asked for his response to the suggestion that the Wicklow constituency is “a group of death” for the next election, the Minister said: 

“I spent yesterday working on the Mental Health Commission reports and getting ready to meet all the good people here this morning and doing some other things. So in time, I will take a look.”

He added: “Every person who puts themselves forward is at risk [of losing their seat]. That’s the nature of electoral politics.”

With reporting from Lauren Boland. 

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