In July 2016, immediately following after the publication of provisional population by area figures by the Central Statistics Office for the 2016 Census, a new Constituency Commission was set in place to begin the process of redrawing European and general election constituency boundaries in light of the changes in population between 2011 and 2016 as revealed in these figures. The previous (2012) Commission had reduced the number of TDs down from 166 to 158, but population increase across the state between 2011 and 2016 means that the smallest number of TDs that the Constitution (should be at least one TD for every 30,000 people) will allow is now 159. (The new Commission can choose to go for either 159 or 160 Dail seats.) As with the 2011-12 review, the process of reviewing Dail and European constituency boundaries commenced much earlier for this Commission than for those between 1980 and 2007. Between 1980 and 2007, the process started after the publication of the final, or definitive, population by area census figures by the CSO (usually published a year after a Census was held). Following the ruling on the McGrath/Murphy High Court case in 2007, the Commission must now commence the process of redrawing Dail and European election constituency boundaries after provisional census figures are published although they cannot publish the final report until after the final or definitive population by area census figures have been published. Given that there tends to be little difference between provisional and final census figures for large areas such as constituencies, very few final tweaks may be needed should a draft version of the final report be available ahead of the publication of the final census figures and the published report is likely to be available some weeks after these figures are released.
In total, 418 public submissions were made to the 2017 Constituency Commission before the closing date for submissions (10th January 2017). This is well down on the 533 submissions that were made to the 2012 Constituency Commission (21.6% reduction), but still compares highly favourably with the 335 submissions made in the case of the 2007 Constituency Commission and the 99 submissions made in the case of the 2004 Constituency Commission. Continue reading