Constituency Review Submission from Cllr John Sheridan
Cllr John Sheridan
Submission ID: S379
National Issues, Louth
My submission is not specifically on any individual boundaries but to make a number of observations. Firstly, I want to complement the Commission on its high-profile communication since its establishment.
As the Commission is aware, the primary unit of reporting of census data and indeed constituency make up is the “Electoral Division”, of which the CSO published data for 3409 electoral divisions in the 2022 census.
It is very obvious that the boundaries of the electoral divisions are very much out of date to current settlement patterns as evidenced by the fact there are 63 electoral divisions in the state with population over 10,000 persons in the 2022 census. I understand most boundaries outside of Dublin and Cork date back to the 19th century. Following completion of this report, I would urge the Commission, the CSO and any other relevant state agency to commence a process of having the ED boundaries revised as was done in Dublin and Cork in the 1970s and 1980s. This would hopefully lead to more useful data sets for future Electoral Commission decisions in years to come on Dáil, local electoral area boundaries but also for state agencies and voluntary groups in using electoral division data.
Use of Eircode for citizens
The Electoral Office of Northern Ireland have a simple feature online where a voter can search their postcode to see their constituency at local or assembly level, candidates and polling place. As it currently stands, there is no easy way for a citizen to identify their Dáil constituency or Council local electoral area except for downloading a pdf map or waiting for their polling card to arrive. I would suggest an easy search feature could be implemented where a citizen could search their Eircode online. This would also be important for voter information during elections, as well as information to citizens outside of election cycles.
It has become clear that the official names of Dáil constituencies often get altered by politicians, media and public alike where sections of counties are included in a neighbouring constituency e.g. while the official name of this constituency is Louth, variations of terms “Louth and East Meath”, “Louth and Coastal Meath” have been used locally since 2011 to acknowledge the significant number approx. 27000 people in Co. Meath who are in the Louth constituency. Many other similar examples exist across the country. I would suggest to the Commission that perhaps in this report using names of geographic features like rivers or mountains could be a way of making constituency names more inclusive and succinct where constituency boundaries cross county boundaries.
An appendix of future research issues
Many submissions, including mine, do not relate directly to individual boundaries but make related observations about ancillary matters. I would hope the Commission’s report during the summer will include an appendix of “ancillary matters raised” included in submissions which could form part of future research of the Commission, politicians, media or those in academia.
Cllr John Sheridan
Councillor for Ardee local electoral area Louth County Council.