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Ireland’s Statutory, Independent Electoral Commission

Constituency Review Submission from Thomas Veale

Thomas Veale

Submission ID: S415




National Issues

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I wish to make a submission to the Commission. I have read through the parameters of your brief and it appears to me that further from increasing the number of Dail seats the opposite should occur. Your remit would appear to be the redrawing of constituencies while maintaining the status quo number wise in keeping with the provision of Article 16.2.2˚ of the Constitution providing for: “The number of members shall from time to time be fixed by law, but the total number of members of Dáil Eireann shall not be fixed at less than one member for each thirty thousand of the population, or at more than one member for each twenty thousand of the population.” It is therefore putting the horse before the cart to have a review of the constituencies based on these restrictions. It would be far more in keeping with modern day thinking to consider a referendum first on reconfiguring Article 16.2.2 based on increasing numbers of citizen represented. We have plenty of guidelines to follow worldwide and should ask ourselves are we well represented by 160 TDs or less. Furthermore the model in Ireland seems to be based on county boundaries, this may serve sporting communities well but is it best for a national electoral platform? Why not have it based on bishoprics? It should also be noted the rush to increase the number of TDs is based solely on a rise in population. Of course the constitution when drafted set the representation as stated previously but this doesn’t seem to have been revisited. We live in an era of mass and instant communication, politicians managed adequately during the period of the pandemic. Is the workload of the politician after increasing in the past century? It is doubtful if it has. Are backbenchers no more than glorious city and county councillors? Indeed if you do a study of the latter you will find we are well accommodated in that department also, in Waterford we have 32 councillors. TDs are administrators and legislators and should be about national affairs. For this reason we need to do a comparison with other countries and I submit a list of countries showing the representation compared to our own.

CountryPopulationNumber of MPsPeople per MP
Italy60,284,410630 (1)95,689
Denmark *5,831,00017932,575
Sweden *10,350,00034929,656
Norway *5,379,00016931,828
Finland *5,531,00020027,655
Portugal *10,310,00023044,826
Hungary  *9,750,00019948,994
  • Pursuant to the amended article 56 of the Italian Constitution, the Chamber of Deputies will have 400 seats following the next election. This will mean that Italy will have one MP per 150,711

*These are unicameral houses, there is no upper house.

You will see that Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland compare with Ireland BUT as I have pointed out these are unicameral parliament i.e. no senate. We are totally out of line with most countries world-wide the above is but a sample.

So based on the study above and with regard to modern thinking it is accepted that big isn’t always best. We are as I stated previously able to communicate in seconds with any part of the world, snail mail and the telegram are things of the past. Our TDs are legislators and not councillors. Therefore short of increasing the number of TDs it should at best remain static or be reduced. We are not obeying the constitution by not increasing but is this correct? Studies recently indicated that people are living longer therefore any increase in administration is also an added cost on the tax-payer. The only correct thing the Electoral Commission can do is recommend a referendum to ask the people if they are in favour of increasing representation and applying a further question asking if the people favour a reduction in the number of TDs. Increasing representation in Ireland at the present time is totally irresponsible.

Thank you for taking time and giving the opportunity to make submissions, one last point, will there be feedback or a request to elaborate?

Thomas Veale

Co Waterford

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