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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
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European elections

Ireland’s extra MEP seat should be in Midlands-NW constituency, says Electoral Commission

The Commission has also recommended that the counties of Laois and Offaly transfer from the South constituency into the Midlands constituency.

THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION has this morning announced its recommendation that the Midlands-North West constituency should gain an additional seat for European parliament elections.

The Commission, An Coimisiún Toghcháin, has also recommended that the counties of Laois and Offaly transfer from the South constituency into the Midlands constituency.

This will increase the constituency from a four seater to a five seater.

It is expected that these recommendations will be accepted in full by the Government and will be cemented in law as an amendment to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2023, which is currently at second stage in the Dáil. 

The Midlands-North West constituency is currently made up of Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, and Westmeath.

It will now also contain Laois and Offaly.

The current MEPs for Midlands-North West are Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh, Sinn Féin’s Chris MacManus, Fine Gael’s Colm Markey and Independent Luke Ming Flanagan. 

The proposed constituency make up:

image Electoral Commission The Electoral Commission's recommendation Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission has said the recommendations meet the statutory requirements set down for the review.

These are that there should be reasonable equality of representation between constituencies; that each constituency must have between 3 and 5 seats; that breaches of county boundaries should be avoided; and that continuity should where possible be maintained.

Chair of the Electoral Commission, Supreme Court Judge, Ms. Justice Marie Baker said this morning: 

“As Ireland’s independent electoral commission, we have worked quickly to ensure this recommendation is brought forward ahead of the statutory schedule. It is now for the Oireachtas to consider and legislate appropriately.”

The recommendation comes after the European Parliament voted in September to allocate an additional seat to Ireland ahead of the European Parliament elections in June 2024. 

Currently, Ireland has 13 MEP seats across three constituencies. This will increase to 14 in June. 

These are the existing constituencies, the counties they include, and how many seats they have:

  • Dublin – four seats
  • Midlands-North-West (Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, and Westmeath) – four seats
  • South (Carlow, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford, and Wicklow) – five seats 

From June, Midlands-North West will have five seats, while Laois and Offaly will be transferred into it from the South constituency.

In total, 175,027 voters from Laois and Offaly will transfer to Midlands-North West. 

The Commission said this provides “exceptionally good equality of representation” across the country, with “very good” variances that are close to zero per cent.

The proposed new make up: 

image (1)

A recent review by the Electoral Commission on the state’s constituencies made no changes to the current Irish set up for European elections, awaiting the European Union decision in September instead.

A public consultation on the redrawing of European electoral boundaries and the allocation of the new MEP seat was opened by the Electoral Commission in September. 


In their submissions to the Commission, Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, the Green Party and the Labour Party all favoured the extra MEP being allocated to Midlands-North West.

They also all suggested that Laois and Offaly be transferred from the South constituency to maintain balance in terms of the number of MEPs per head of population.

Fianna Fáil did not make a submission to the Commission. 

Fianna Fáil Senators Lisa Chambers, from Mayo and Niall Blaney, from Donegal, have both announced plans to run for a seat in Midlands-North West where the party currently has no MEP.

There has been speculation that Laois-Offaly Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen also plans to contest an MEP seat next year, although he has not yet confirmed his intentions.

Meanwhile, it has also been confirmed that Galway Senator Pauline O’Reilly from the Green party will also run in Midlands-North West.

In a statement this morning, O’Reilly said: “Now is the time to elect our region’s first ever Green MEP. The future has to be based on renewables, nature restoration, and a better outcome for our children”.

MEP Maria Walsh told The Journal this morning that she welcomes the opportunity to work on behalf of the communities in Laois and Offaly.

“I hope the additional seat will be won by a pro-European. We are now 200 days away from the next Local and European Elections. It is most important we have people who believe in the EU project and want to deliver to the 15 counties,” Walsh said.
‘Missed opportunity’

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s Dublin MEP Barry Andrews told The Journal that today’s recommendations “make no political, geographical or economic sense”.

“The opportunity to draw constituencies that would give voters some sense of connection has been missed. Louth being in Midlands-North West is an example, it is neither Midlands nor North-West,” he said.

Andrews said the development of Dublin and its economic connection with neighbouring counties was “ignored completely”.

“Meanwhile the voters of Bray share a constituency with the inhabitants of Valentia Island. We should be taking every opportunity to connect voters with their European representatives including having geographically coherent constituencies,” Andrews said.

In recent weeks, sitting Fine Gael MEP in Dublin Frances Fitzgerald announced that she would not run in next year’s European election, as did fellow Fine Gael member and MEP for the South constituency Deirdre Clune.

Next year’s European elections will take place between Thursday 6 and Sunday 9 June.

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