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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Alamy Stock Photo Sculpture of hurlers in Kilkenny city.
Electoral Commission

Commission had 'sleepless nights' over transferring Kilkenny's oldest GAA club into Tipperary

A staunchly black and amber area will now vote alongside their nearby rivals.

THE HEAD OF the Electoral Commission said he had “sleepless nights” over the transfer of members of Kilkenny’s oldest GAA club into Tipperary.

The State body will next launch an initiative to encourage people in “to get out and vote” in their constituency, amid concern that “apathy” may set in following the boundary change.

Art O’Leary made the remarks while explaining the commission’s decision to shift 13 electoral districts in the Urlingford area of west Co Kilkenny – numbering 6,400 people – into the newly formed Tipperary North constituency.

Included in the move is Tullaroan GAA – the oldest in the county and native club of legendary hurlers including the nine-time All-Star Tommy Walsh.

And sporting tradition was something that that the Electoral Commission took into consideration, O’Leary told The Journal.

“We understood when looking at this that county boundaries are something people are very protective of,” he said.

However, the commission found this “just wasn’t possible” in certain instances such as Kilkenny because the constitution requires 30,000 people per TD. 

“Tullaroan, the oldest hurling club in Kilkenny, is now voting in Tipperary,” O’Leary said.

“There are 6,431 people from Urlingford down as far as Tullaroan, and that’s a difficulty for them and something they will be disappointed with I’m sure.

“It’s no consolation for me to say to them that this issue gave us sleepless nights.”


Kilkenny Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said the transfer of more than 6,400 people had “cut deep into the county” with the risk people will feel “disenfranchised” and “apathetic” as a result.

This was echoed by fellow Kilkenny TD and Minister for Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan who told local radio KCLR FM that some people in west Kilkenny may feel “disenfranchised” over the changes due to how “deeply connected” people feel to their communities.

McGuinness added that there is a risk people will fail to turn out at the ballot box come the next general election.

“People might laugh but the people there are proud of hurling and a connection which has been reinforced by the GAA and parish and so on, and there is a lot of rivalry there with Tipperary. They will not like this and they might not bother to vote.”

He added that “all services”, ranging from the local council to education, are attached to Kilkenny rather than Tipperary.

“They’ve after sending a significant cut of voters elsewhere which is just unnecessary.”

In its report, the Commission said that it received submissions seeking for Carlow to form a constituency of its own.

While it “did consider dividing the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency” into two three-seat constituencies based on county lines, it found that the population of Carlow didn’t support this move.

“I’ve been describing this whole process as a battle between maths and geography and on this occasion, the maths left us with no choice,” O’Leary said.  

“To get the population of Carlow0Kilkenny down in order to keep it as a five-seater, we looked at moving parts of south Kilkenny into Waterford [and] into Wexford, but the maths simply didn’t work.

“If you move Ferrybank for instance into Waterford, Waterford then becomes too big to stay as as four-seater and needs to grab some more population to become a five-seater. That would necessitate bringing Carick-on-Suir from south Tipperary into Waterford.”

McGuinness, who has been a TD since 1997, described the Urlingford area as a “strong part” of his base and said he will now have to “make it up somewhere else” in the constituency.

When asked about apathy setting in among voters, O’Leary said it was a “valid” concern.

“The academic research in this space would seem to indicate exactly that point so Deputy McGuinness is correct in that.

“This is a recommendation of the Electoral Commission and it is our job to work with the people of Urlingford to encourage them to get out and vote.

“As a community of six-and-a half-thousand, they have a significant voice in politics. So it’s our job to encourage them to get on the elcroral reigster, get out and vote.”

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