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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Leah Farrell/ Danny Healy-Rae with Michael Healy-Rae outside Leinster House.

The winners and losers from today's constituency review

Today’s major redrawing of constituency boundaries will see Ireland get 14 additional TDs at the next general election.

WHILE SOME existing TDs (and voters) will be happy with the results of today’s constituency boundary review, not all are pleased.

As the Electoral Commission chief executive Art O’Leary said himself, today’s redrawing of constituencies will result in “winners and losers”.

In its decision to recommend 14 additional TDs and four additional constituencies, the Electoral Commission seemed to favour consistency over ‘future-proofing’ in its decision-making process.

But despite its efforts to maintain consistency among existing constituencies, many voters will see themselves uprooted from their existing voting area in the next election and a number of TDs will see their voter-base moved. 

So who are the winners and losers from today’s review? 


People living in areas that are tacked on to other counties

Some people will be disappointed to see that their area remains or has been freshly tacked on to a neighbouring county. 

Mornington in County Meath is one example of this, with some voters there expressing frustration that they remain in the Louth constituency rather than being moved to Meath East.

In explaining its decision, the Commission said that this current breach of the Meath county boundary was its main consideration. 

It said it received a large number of submissions relating to the Louth constituency (10% of all submissions) and that many were from a coordinated campaign promoting city status for Drogheda. 

However, it also stated that it received many submissions for all of the Meath electoral districts to be located in Meath constituencies. 

Its decision to move one of the two Meath districts currently in Louth back into Meath may satisfy neither camp.

Another example is votes in south Donegal, including the towns of Ballintra, Ballyshannon, and Bundoran who remain in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency. 

There had been some speculation that the five seat constituency of Donegal might be split into two three-seaters, reclaiming south Donegal. This however, did not materialise and Donegal has remained as an unchanged five seat constituency.

Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Ms Justice Marie Baker said today: “If a six-seater would have been possible perhaps Donegal could have been a six-seater.”

Wicklow’s Existing TDs

Today’s redrawing means Wicklow and Wexford has now been split into three constituencies – Wicklow, Wexford, and Wicklow/Wexford.

As a result, Wicklow will be a hotly-contested constituency in the next general election with five sitting TDs being forced into a dogfight for four seats.

The maths is clear that as it stands, if all sitting TDs decide to fight for their seats in the next general election, all five will be fighting it out for four seats. 

Wicklow’s current TD’s are all based in the north of the county.

These are: Sitting Ministers Stephen Donnelly and Simon Harris, who both hail from Greystones; Sinn Fein’s John Brady and the Green Party’s Stephen Mattews, who are both from Bray and Social Democrat’s Jennifer Whitmore, who lives in Delgany.

As Whitmore is originally from Wexford, there has been questions about whether she would consider throwing her hat into the race in the new constituency, which might be welcomed by the other existing TDs in Wicklow. 

However, sources indicate that she is happy to stay put where she is.  

Existing TDs in Cork South West

This constituency has remained unchanged as a three-seater. 

A hotly contested area, the constituencies three existing TDs; Independent Michael Collins, Social Democrats Holly Cairns, and Fianna Fáil’s Christopher O’Sullivan would have been hoping for the constituency to gain a seat. 

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

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

In a statement released today, Michael Collins expressed his disappointment over the decision to keep Cork South West as a three-seater constituency.

It read: “The announcement comes as a letdown for both Collins and the constituents who had hoped for an expansion to a four-seater constituency, encompassing vital areas like Enniskeane, Newcestown, Castletownkennigh, and the northern part of Dunmanway. These regions, which naturally align with Cork South West, were expected to be brought under its representation.”

 The big beasts in Dublin Bay South

The seat numbers remain unchanged at four in Dublin Bay South which means more pressure for existing TDs including Labour leader Ivana Bacik and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

Although it retained its existing number of TDs, the constituency has however seen the electoral area of Kimmage C transferred into neighbouring Dublin South-Central.

The impact of this remains to be seen and won’t be fully visible until the next election however given that the region gave the greatest amount of first preference votes to Sinn Féin followed by the Green party in the 2020 general election, it could signal an issue for Ryan.


Kerry and the Healy Raes

Ahead of today’s review, there was speculation that Kerry would be split into two three seater constituencies which would have presented a challenge for the existing Kerry TDs. 

However, the Commission recommended that the Kerry constituency should remain unchanged as a five seat constituency which encompasses the entire county of Kerry with no breaches of the county boundary. 

The commission noted that submissions made in relation to what should be done with the constituency were “relatively evenly divided” between keeping it a five seater or splitting it into two three-seaters. 

Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae said today that he welcomed the commission’s decision to maintain the existing constituency.

He said: “I cherish and appreciate the role of being an Independent TD for all of Co.Kerry in Dáil Éireann and look forward to the challenge of going before the electorate.”

Regina Doherty

Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty, who lost her Dáil seat in the Meath East constituency in 2020 has said she is “delighted” with the Commission’s report today and the creation of the new Fingal West constituency.

Doherty has said she will run there in the next election.

Voters in Swords (Fingal East)

Swords currently forms part of Dublin Fingal, the constituency which has seen the largest population growth nationally in the last census. 

Voters there should be pleased to know that the town won’t be split as part of today’s shake-up.

The Commission noted that it was a strong view in the submissions it received that the local authority boundaries should be adhered to in the constituency and in particular that Swords should not be split. 

The Commission adhered to these two suggestions and today has recommended splitting Final, currently a five seat constituency (the maximum number of seats permitted), into two three-seat constituencies: Dublin Fingal West and Dublin Fingal East. 

Both constituencies will be contained within the boundary of Fingal County Council.

As part of the new configuration, Swords in its entirety will form part of Dublin Fingal East, alongside Donabate, Kinsealy, Malahide and Portmarnock. 

Voters in Laois and Offaly

Laois and Offaly were two of the new constituencies created today, with three seats being assigned to each one. 

It is the first time that the Offaly constituency fully aligns with its county borders. 

Currently, a five seat constituency exists for the counties of Laois and Offaly with the exclusion of four electoral districts in Laois and one from Offaly from the area around Portarlington that are in the Kildare South constituency. 

The Commission has said that the submissions it received were mostly in favour of splitting the Laois-Offaly constituency into two three-seat constituencies, primarily based on their county boundaries. 

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