Constituency Review Submission from Cllr. Rob Power
Cllr. Rob Power
Submission ID: S414
Kildare North, Kildare South, Wicklow, European Constituencies - Midlands-North-West, European Constituencies - South, European Constituencies - Dublin
To Whom it may concern,
I welcome the opportunity to put forward a submission as part of your review of the electoral boundaries around the country. I wish the committee well in its work and hope it will use the opportunity of publication and its independent standing to highlight both the positive aspects and negative restrictions that are part of this process.
I would like to make the following points for consideration:
Kildare North and South Constituencies:
1. The most recent census shows that the population of County Kildare has risen to
246,977. Given the recent increase the commission should see the merit in assigning a ninth Dail seat to the county. As a fast-growing commuter county this population trend is likely to continue so the addition of a seat to Kildare would be a prudent step in anticipation of future representational needs.
2. Where there is an effort to align Dail constituencies with council electoral areas I would like to make a specific suggestion concerning the electoral division (ED) of Donore, Co. Kildare. The ED of Donore had a very long standing association with the ED of Carragh until the most recent local electoral boundary review separated the
two (moving Donore from the Naas MD to the Clane LEA). Granted this is a very localised issue but the impact of this change led to lower voter turnout as Donore residents were asked to vote in a polling station 7km away in Robertstown (vs the traditional polling station in Caragh just over 1km away). I would urge the commission to ensure the EDs of Donore and Caragh are kept together in any redrawn Dail boundary.
The commission will observe other submissions calling for some parts of County Kildare to be allocated to a redrawn Wicklow constituency. Traditionally Dail representation has centred in the north-east of county Wicklow and in many ways, the Wicklow mountains
exacerbate a divide that is felt in the county between east and west. Many towns in Wicklow, particularly in the Baltinglass municipal district have a stronger association with east Kildare than they do with east Wicklow. While the commission will endeavour to keep county boundaries intact, the dynamics in Wicklow may make this difficult. The commission should be open to the potential to include some areas of west Wicklow in Kildare constituencies.
It would seem appropriate for EU election boundaries in Ireland to follow the established Nomenclature for Territorial Units (NUTS) which is the adopted standard of administrative division within the EU since 2003. As chair of the Eastern and Midlands Regional Assembly I’ve experienced the challenges of the anomaly in having our region represented by all 13
Irish MEPs. I would respectfully suggest that a bias toward keeping electoral boundaries as closely linked to Regional Assembly boundaries as possible would enhance the democratic process, provide efficiencies in work practices in EU matters and would allow for a closer association to the region by constituents.
The Commission will seek to achieve “equality of representation” between constituencies and as it is restricted from suggesting a six-seat constituency and encouraged not to break county boundaries.
I suggest that the following allocation may be appropriate: Dublin constituency (All of Dublin county) – 3 seats
Eastern and Midlands constituency (The eight counties of Wicklow, Kildare, Louth, Meath, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford) – 3 seats
Southern constituency (The nine counties of Clare, Tipperary, Limerick, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Kerry, Cork) – 4 seats
Northern and Western constituency (The eight counties of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway) – 3 seats
The above suggestion considers not only population distribution but a more fair distribution of counties across the geographically larger three constituencies. An alternative solution to the above (should the Commission be minded to stick with 3 EU constituencies) would be to keep the Southern and Dublin constituencies as described above (allocating 4 seats to each) and amalgamate the Eastern and Midlands and Northern and Western constituencies as outlined above (allocating 5 seats). While this scenario would provide for a more narrow range of variance in population per MEP it would lead to a behemoth constituency of 16 counties which arguably provides less equality of representation.