Adrian Kavanagh, 21st June 2012
The 2012 Constituency Commission report was published today and the level of changes in it are very dramatic and belie the generally conservative approach taken by the Commission in the previous two reports. There are three fewer constituencies, four less 3-seat constituencies and one more 4-seat constituency, making for the largest ever nunber of 4-seat general election constituencies in Ireland. I hope to comment on these changes in more detail over the coming days, but for now here are some initial observations on these changes (which I’ll add to as the day progresses).
- No changes were made to the existing European election constituency boundaries.
- One pleasing aspect of this Constituency Commission report is the fact that there is a sense that this time they did pay attention to the public submissions. People living in the areas with the largest numbers of submissions relating to them (Swords, Leitrim, Terenure, Cork) generally tended to get what they had been looking for. I’m particularly pleased for the people of Leitrim for whom the division of the county was a major concern, although people in south Donegal and west Cavan will beg to differ.
- One aspect that I’m not pleased with relates to the decision to keep the north-eastern part of Carlow in with Wicklow – while the population per TD ratio for Wicklow County would be 5.9% lower than the national average greater degrees of variance have been allowed by past Commissions to preserve county boundaries (Louth and Cavan-Monaghan in 2004, Cavan-Monaghan in 2007).
Notwithstanding deliberations of the members of the Constituency Commission, who were probably under major government direction, much greater austerity should have been invoked in line with National fiscal ability & generally in keeping with austerity measures taken in other sectors of the State. It’s a bit of a sham in that regard & demonstrates once more that politicians never learn.
If you add in proposed abolition of Seanad Eireann, then the number of Oireachtas members will be reduced by 68 in total, or over 30%, which is quite a dramatic reduction. Worth noting that Government was willing to countenance reduction of up to 20 in number of TDs, but was limited in doing so by constitutional requirement of having 1 TD per 30,000 people.