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Ireland’s Statutory, Independent Electoral Commission

Constituency Review Submission from Mary Teresa Mc Bride

Mary Teresa Mc Bride

Submission ID: S95




Donegal, Sligo-Leitrim

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To the Members of the Electoral Commission,

I welcome the opportunity afforded to members of the public to make submissions to inform the 2023 ‘Constituency Review’. I live in north Donegal and my submission requests the consideration by the Electoral Commission of the creation of two three-seater constituencies in County Donegal.

My proposal adheres to both Constitutional provisions, the Terms of the ‘Constituency Review’ and the principle of reasonable equality of representation between constituencies:

  1. Population Size: Under Article 16.2.2° of the Constitution the total number of members of the Dáil Éireann cannot be fixed at less than one member per 30,000 of the population or at more than one member per 20,000 of the population. As per the 2022 Census, Donegal now has a population of 166,321. The current 5 seats are inadequate and breach Constitutional provisions.
  2. Respecting County Boundaries: The Terms of the ‘Constituency Review’ state ‘the breaching of county boundaries shall be avoided as far as practicable’. The current constituency boundaries mean that parts of south Donegal fall into the Sligo–Leitrim constituency. While the previous Electoral Commission has its reasons for this decision, the people of south Donegal have been poorly represented as a result. South Donegal sits on the fringes of what is, for all intents and purposes, the constituency of a ‘separate’ county. The current Review affords the opportunity to rectify this, adhering to the principle of ‘reasonable equality of representation between constituencies’.
  3. Border County: As a result of partition, Donegal is physically, economically and socially cut-off from most of the country and, crucially, from the center of power. This further underlines the unique need of an additional seat for County Donegal to ensure we are equally represented.
  4. Gender Equality in Irish Politics: Ireland has made national, EU and international commitments to address the gender imbalance in Irish politics. Donegal is one of only two constituencies in Ireland that has no female TD. Although barriers to women’s participation in politics are multiple, being a large physically spread-out rural county dissuades women in Donegal from entering, or even considering, running for election. The Terms of the ‘Constituency Review’ state ‘there shall be regard to geographic considerations including significant physical features and the extent of and the density of population in each constituency’. The large distances (and associated long hours) required to conduct constituency work, due to Donegal’s current constituency formation, is a barrier to achieving gender equality in Donegal’s political representation. And, it is one the Electoral Commission could easily remove by creating two 3-seater constituencies in Donegal.  

I appreciate the Electoral Commission’s consideration of my submission.

Kind regards,

Mary Teresa Mc Bride 

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