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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
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From 'Wixford' to Foxrock, TDs are anxiously surveying their future right now

The starting gun has been fired for the next general election.

THE STARTING GUN for the next general election was well and truly fired today with the publishing of the new constituency boundaries. 

No sooner had the new constituency maps been revealed, some TDs were out in force in a bid to woo over their new prospective voters.

The Fine Gael team for Josepha Madigan was leaflet dropping in the Foxrock and Stillorgan areas, which will move from the Dun Laoghaire to Dublin Rathdown constituency.

This will be of benefit to Madigan and her colleague Minister of State Neale Richmond. 

Madigan’s gain is her Dun Laoghaire colleague’s Jennifer Carroll MacNeill’s loss. Such is the case with the creation of four new constituencies and chopping and changing of electoral lines. 

As the commission giveth, they taketh away for others. 

The commission gathered political reporters and correspondents in the Royal College of Physicians early this morning for the big reveal, which came with life size maps. 

The night before, politicians tweeted as if they were awaiting their Leaving Cert results, with Fianna Fáil senator Catherine Ardagh tweeting that it was “one more sleep” until all was revealed, while her party colleague TD James Lawless said: 

“Doing some end of summer housekeeping on my posters.. but next time will they be going up north, south east or west?! All to be revealed with the new boundary report out tomorrow!”

The review of constituencies from the Electoral Commission has gone down well with some, while others have seen huge swathes of their supporters removed from them with a stroke of a pen. 

Since the publication of the electoral boundaries, the head honchos in all the political parties have been poring over the maps to see where they have potential to make gains and ascertain where there could be losses. 

“The powers that be have been going into granular detail since the maps were released,” said one party source. 


One of the biggest shockwaves is the redrawing of the constituency boundaries by the Electoral Commission today means Wicklow and Wexford has now been split into three constituencies.

Wicklow is being described as the constituency of death, with changes reducing it to a four-seater. This means a dogfight is in store for the five incumbent TDs (two of whom are ministers) if they wish to retain their seats. 

“Five into four doesn’t go, so someone will lose out,” said one Wicklow TD. 

Wicklow TDs that The Journal spoke to said the changes were “not good for Wicklow”. Sinn Féín’s John Brady described it as a “hatchet job” on the county. 

Another source described the “Wick/Wex thing” as “messy”.

Minister Simon Harris

Speaking to reporters at Government Buildings today, Minister Simon Harris gave his reaction to his changing constituency: 

“I am conscious there will be mixed feelings in County Wicklow… I’m from County Wicklow all my life and that county identity I know is so important to people right across Wicklow. So there’ll be mixed views on that.

“From an electoral point of view, I’ve looked at the map, I’ve looked at the numbers and I’m happy enough with the lines on the map in terms of the next election and now having that clarity as to what that will look like, but of course, you work extremely hard in every election and never take your neighbours or friends or constituents in any way for granted,” he said. 

Wexford has changed from five-seater to a four-seater, and a new constituency has been created in Wicklow/Wexford, which will hold three seats.

Right away, people were pointing to the confusion the names of the constituencies might cause, with RTE’s Claire Byrne today calling it ‘Wixford’ on air. 

So what’s the mood music among Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party?

For the most part, the government parties are largely happy.

Increasing three-seater constituencies by four will benefit the larger parties, but this would also include Sinn Féin. 

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.

Sources within Fine Gael say the changes will allow the party hold in places where they feel they are vulnerable such as Donegal, Kerry and Kildare North. 

It’s good news for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, whose constituency has moved to a five-seater, though pressure will be on him to deliver a second seat again with Emer Currie. 

Tipperary’s Garrett Ahearn is being described as the big winner in the Fine Gael party, if he can hold the vote he attained in 2020 next time around.

However those in the party believe that Paul Kehoe could be squeezed in the Wexford constituency now with it reducing to a four-seater. Some state he perhaps could run in the new constituency, if he could gain a win. 

Fine Gaelers believe that Simon Harris will hold his seat, however, there is disappointed in the party around Dublin South Central as there were hopes that Senator Mary Seery Kearney would get a seat if it went to a five-seater. 

Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan however has lost his heartland of Boyle in Sligo-Leitrim to Roscommon Galway.

Sources within Fianna Fáil told The Journal that the changes were as fair as good be.

The gaining of seat in Mayo was welcomed by those in Fianna Fáil, as it looked like it would benefit Lisa Chambers, who was once tipped for the party leadership before she lost her seat in the county and later returned as a senator.

However, Chambers has this afternoon confirmed to RTÉ that she will run in the European elections next year and she is not targeting the additional Mayo seat.

However, Fianna Fail TD Jackie Cahill might be in other with the splitting of the Tipperary constituency and with the withdrawal of votes from Cashel. 

Fianna Fáil sources said today that overall the party feels it balances out, while adding that Ballincollig is a loss to Cork North West, other areas like Mallow is a gain.

For the Greens, the party leader Eamon Ryan will be happy with seat numbers remaining unchanged in his Dublin Bay South, but the headache in Wicklow could mean they’re at risk of losing a seat with Stephen Matthews. 

In its submission to the commission, the Green Party made the point that larger constituencies are more representative than smaller constituencies and better represent the diversity of viewpoints among the electorate.

However, it is in government with parties that advocated against such six-seaters, so there is little point in complaining about it now. 

The dye has been cast for the next general election.

All the politicians can do now is play the cards they have been dealt.

At least until the next census in 2027 – and who knows how many extra TDs we could have then. 

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