Constituency Review Submission from Cian O’Callaghan TD
Cian O’Callaghan TD
Submission ID: S253
Dublin Bay North
This submission will outline the compelling reasons as to why the current boundary of the constituency of Dublin Bay North should be maintained. Notwithstanding the constituency’s modest population growth recorded in Census 2022, I am of the view that the Electoral Commission should retain the existing constituency boundary.
I believe that the following reasons act as mitigation for maintaining the current boundary for the constituency:
- Legal precedent
- Objectives set for the Commission under the Electoral Reform Act 2022, and
- Maintenance of democratic values
Based on Census 2022, Dublin Bay North’s population now stands at 155,905 persons which is a growth rate of 5.4% since 2016. The population per TD ratio of 31,181 falls only marginally below the national average of 32,022 (-2.63%), or 841 persons.
Budd J in O’Donovan v the Attorney General  I.R. 114 allowed for a national variance of 5%, a figure which is widely quoted in legal textbooks.
The current variance for Dublin Bay North is favourable in relation to this judicial opinion and justifies leaving the constituency boundary unaltered.
Section 57(1)(d) of the Electoral Reform Act 2022 states that “each constituency shall be composed of contiguous areas”. Dublin Bay North as it is currently constructed meets this requirement of the Act.
There are many shared cultural, sporting, religious and public services that link the constituency in a natural way, which are preserved in the current electoral boundary. The communities of Dublin Bay North are intertwined and are not separated by any greenbelts or other significant features.
The communities of Dublin Bay North are located adjacent to each other and share a considerable amount of services and amenities. These range from HSE services, to policing districts, to the Drugs and Alcohol task force. The Dublin Bay biosphere spans the amenities of Howth Head and Bull Island bringing the communities of Clontarf, Raheny, Kilbarrack, Sutton and Howth together. While these amenities draw visitors from across Dublin and indeed from around the world, the communities of Dublin Bay North particularly enjoy the use of these areas together with St. Anne’s Park.
In addition, the communities of Clongriffin and Baldoyle utilise Clongriffin DART Station and share a number of concerns and aspirations around infrastructure in their immediate areas. Likewise, Howth Junction DART Station serves residents in both Donaghmede and Sutton. These areas greatly benefit from political representation that can address issues regarding infrastructure on both sides of these stations.
From the perspective of Dublin Dáil constituencies, Dublin Bay North and Dublin Bay South form a perfect symmetry on the political map of the capital and frame the natural geography of the Bay, a
feature that is worth preserving.
Section 57(1)(e) of the Electoral Reform Act 2022 states that “there should be regard to geographic considerations including significant physical features and the extent of and the density of population in each constituency”.
Dublin Bay North has a number of significant physical features which have created a shared identity for the population of the constituency. Taking its given electoral name from Dublin Bay, the coastal features marked by Bull Island and Howth Head are substantial markers and reference points for the people who live in the area, and form a natural boundary to the East. Similarly, the Swords Road/M50 marks the Western boundary of the constituency. The green belt between Baldoyle and Portmarnock and the Mayne River is notable as it provides a natural barrier between Dublin Bay North and Dublin Fingal, forming the Northern boundary of the constituency.
These are significant natural and human-made features that provide easily identifiable boundaries for the constituency and would appear to meet the requirements of Section 57(1)(e) of the Electoral Reform Act 2022.
Section 57(1)(f) of the Electoral Reform Act 2022 states “subject to this section, the Commission shall endeavour to maintain continuity in relation to the arrangements of constituencies”.
The constituency of Dublin Bay North was created in 2016 and has been contested in two General Elections. It was formed from the merger of Dublin North Central and Dublin North East which saw the loss of one elected representative when the two 3 seaters were combined. It has taken time, but the electorate of the constituency have now become familiar with the geographical boundaries, who their current TDs are and who the potential candidates in a General Election may be.
The bedrock for an effective democracy is premised on the electorate knowing their local representatives and the boundary of their constituency; to change the boundary in 2023 would undo what residents have come to take pride in since its creation just 6 years ago.
The Commission would be keeping with the intent and spirit of Section 57(1)(f) of the Act by maintaining the continuity of the constituency by the preservation of current boundaries.
The population growth of 5.4% recorded in the constituency from Census 2016 is marginally above the lowest recorded population growth in the State (Limerick County 4%). The population of the constituency can be described as stable and with the lack of available greenfield zoned space for new home building, substantial future growth is unlikely.
It can be argued that the stable population, alongside the lack of population growth in Dublin Bay North, justifies leaving the current boundary in place.