Constituency Review Submission from Billy Timmins
Submission ID: S377
National Issues, Mayo, Galway West, Carlow-Kilkenny, Wexford, Wicklow, Meath East
I wish to make the following submission with respect to the constituency review for Dáil Éireann 2023.
The Commission is required to observe the provisions of the Constitution as outlined in Articles 16.2.2° and 16.2.3°. It also has specific terms of reference. My first proposal is outside the terms of reference, however it is of such importance that I believe the Commission should reference it in its report.
- The Commission should recommend to Government the concept of amending Articles 16.2.2° and
16.2.3°, with a view to giving a weighting to population and geographic dispersion. I realise that this would be difficult. However is it fair that in Mayo a member of Dáil Éireann may have to travel for nearly two hours from Ballyhaunis to Cartowteige to meet a constituent, while their counterpart in Dublin can traverse their constituency in a relatively short period and by many transport means? It is not my intention to be flippant but I’ve never seen a Dart Station around Belmullet and I’m not aware if there’s an electric car charging point in Gortacragher. This is not about hardship on a politician but rather the access a member of the public has to their elected representative. I acknowledge that advances in communications have transformed how we all operate in our daily behaviour but one of the great strengths of our democracy is the ability of a person to meet their representative. Over the last couple of decades and particularly since the economic crash there has been a diminishing respect for public representatives. No amount of social media posting or leaflet dropping will replace the face to face meeting. To facilitate ease of contact the relevant Sections of Article 16 should be amended.
The imbalance will continue and in the not too distant future the population of the Mid East (Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow) may surpass the rest of the country. This could lead to a policy divide resulting in a societal division. The micro imbalance, whereby the population is consolidating around a main town e.g. Galway, Kilkenny will also add to the situation where a certain cohort feel they have no voice. This is not about having two rural reps for every urban one but rather seeking to have fair access for the public to their elected representative.
- The Carlow/ Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow constituencies will require some change. I note submission ID: S16 on this issue and strongly agree on the point made that it is not desireable to split a Local Electoral Area (LEA). However I also note that it goes on to recommend the splitting of the Baltinglass LEA. Many of the points I made in paragraph 1 with respect to population and geographic dispersion are applicable in this area. I strongly disagree with the points made in the submission which seek to split the LEA along certain geographic and social associations. Neither of them reflect the actual situation. I am aware of the + or – 5% court decision however I do believe that it is more important to keep an LEA together than divide it for small mathematical reasons. I was a public representative for a number of years and the beneficiary of such a division. On reflection it was not a good thing.