Adrian Kavanagh, 3rd September 2013
The public submissions phase of the current review of European Parliament election constituency boundaries concluded at 5.00pm last Friday (30th August). In all, 24 submissions were made to the Constituency Commission in relation to this revision of European Election constituencies – a decidedly lower number than the levels of submissions made in relation to reviews of Dail election constituencies and City/County Council election constituencies but an increase on the number of submissions specifically referring to European Parliament constituency boundaries in the 2007 and 2012 Constituency Commission reviews (eight in both cases) and the thirteen submissions made to the 2003 revision of European Election boundaries. This post will review the submissions relating to the present (2013) review.
Ultimately, given the terms of reference for the Constituency Commission’s review and in the light of the loss of a European Parliament seat by the Republic of Ireland, two options were open to the Commission – to have one five seat constituency and two three-seat constituencies or else to have one three-seat constituency and two four-seat constituencies. Of the twenty four submissions made to the Commission, two did not made any suggestions that specifically related to the Commission’s terms of reference while one submission made no specific recommendations and just offered an overview of the different options open to the Commission. Two submissions only made specific reference to either an individual area (advocating that Clare be included in a constituency with the rest of Munster) or an individual constituency (advocating that Munster form a stand-alone three-seat constituency). One submission – that of the Green Party – made no specific choice as to the one five seat constituency and two three-seat constituencies/one three-seat constituency and two four-seat constituencies options, but did made recommendations as to the ideal constituency configurations within those two options. Of the eighteen submissions that did make recommendations as to the different options here, the preference of ten of these was for the one three-seat constituency and two four-seat constituencies option and the preference of eight of these was for the one five seat constituency and two three-seat constituencies option. As Munster MEP Phil Prendergast was associated with two submissions – one an individual submission and the other a joint submission with fellow Labour Party MEP, Emer Costello – that both advocated the one three-seater/two four-seater option, it could be argued that the margin between the two options was effectively even closer.
In relation to those submissions that advocated the one three-seat constituency and two four-seat constituencies option (including the Green Party’s suggestion in this regard), the most popular option within this group was to have Dublin as the three-seat constituency (8 submissions) as opposed to a greater North-West constituency (2 submissions) and Munster (1 submission). All of the 8 submissions advocating a three-seat Dublin constituency suggested that the other (two four-seat) constituencies should be arranged on a North-South basis – with south Leinster to join with Munster and with northern and western Leinster to join with Connacht-Ulster.
In relation to those submissions that advocated the one five-seat constituency and two three-seat constituencies option (including the Green Party’s suggestion in this regard), there was a notable divide here. 4 submissions advocated that the five-seat constituency would comprise of a Greater Dublin area, encompassing Dublin and a number of counties in Leinster, while the other five submissions associated with this group advocated that the five-seat constituency should be focused on Munster. There was some discrepancies between the submissions in terms of the exact configuration of these five seat constituencies, with, for instance, some of those advocating a five-seat South constituency suggesting that Munster be joined with south Leinster while others advocated that Munster be linked instead with Connacht-Ulster.