Constituency Review Submission from Charles Flanagan TD
Charles Flanagan TD
Submission ID: S475
Laois-Offaly, Kildare South
I write in my capacity as an elected public representative elected to Dail Eireann for the constituency of Laois/Offaly.
I acknowledge a significant increase in the population of the two administrative counties of Laois and Offaly and the potential changes such increase may bring to the constituency boundary review.
While the name of the constituency may have remained as Laois/Offaly just somewhat short of 20,000 people from Offaly and Laois are now residing in the constituency of South Kildare. This is unsatisfactory on a number of counts not least by being reflected in a lower than average turn out in the parts of Offaly and Laois that no longer can vote in the Laois/Offaly constituency. The midland counties of Offaly and Laois have little in common with
County Kildare, the latter being regarded as an Eastern County and never classified as being in the
Midlands. This is evidenced by the many state agencies and organisations serving the Midlands that do not serve County Kildare. County Kildare in the Ireland North West constituency for European elections which is rather bizarre, while Offaly and Laois are both in Ireland South. Moreover countless citlzens and residents from
Portarlington, Ballybrittas, Emo, Jamestown, Fisherstown in County Laois and Gracefield and Cloneygowan in County Offaly still very much associate with their native county of Offaly and/or Laois and do not feel themselves in any way as being an integral part of the Kildare infrastructure. As a practitioner I very much share this view. This is unfair and runs counter to the essential principles of democracy. I have documented numerous complaints and queries from residents in these areas who continue to raise what they regard as an unsatisfactory state of affairs. My point is that the people of Offaly and Laois wish to vote in Offaly or Laois.
My contention is therefore that either the two administrative counties of Offaly and Laois remain together as one constituency or in the alternatives that the counties be classified as separate and apart as two distinct county constituencies of Laois and Offaly. I acknowledge there may be some pressures in respect of a knock on effect from adjoining constituency configuration with particular reference to Carlow/Kilkenny and Tipperary to the South and Longford/Westmeath to the North but I suggest that it is in the best interests of the residents of Laois and Offaly for the administrative county boundaries to remain in tact as indeed was the case from the foundation of the state until recent reviews resulted in portions of Laois and Offaly being hived off to other counties with whom the people had little or no affinity or direct association.
I trust therefore that every effort will be made to maintain the integrity of administrative boundaries of Counties Offaly and Laois and that this be reflected in any new constituency configuration.
Charlie Flanagan TD