Recommendations Published for 174 Seat & 43 Constituency Dáil
No Change Recommended to MEP Boundaries as Seat Allocation Awaited
30 August 2023 –An Coimisiún Toghcháin, The Electoral Commission has made its independent recommendations to the Oireachtas on the make-up of Ireland’s electoral constituencies for the next Dáil and European Parliament elections.
The Commission recommends that the next Dáil would see 174 TDs representing 43 Dáil Constituencies, up from the current 160 TDs in 39 Constituencies.
The recommendations published today:
Meet the constitutional requirements on representation – each TD in a 174 seat Dáil would represent an average of 29,593 people, down from the current 32,182.
The recommendations also meet the statutory criteria set down for this review – they:
- Significantly reduce county boundary breaches – that see people voting in a constituency outside of their county. The number of county boundary breaches has been minimised in a 174 seat Dáil. The Commission recommends the removal of seven of the 10 existing breaches of county boundaries, reductions in the size of two existing breaches, and proposes just three new county boundary breaches.
- Maintain a relative balance of seats across constituencies – as the number of 3 seat constituencies will be 13 instead of 9, the number of 4 seat constituencies will be 15 instead of 17 and the number of 5 seat constituencies will be 15 instead of 13.
- Maintain a high level of continuity in the arrangement of constituencies – Seven constituencies remain entirely unchanged since the last review (Clare, Cork South-West, Donegal, Dublin Central, Kerry, Limerick County, and Waterford).
The Commission took a significant decision that it would work, wherever practicable, to remove or reduce existing breaches to county boundaries, and avoid creating new breaches. Where necessary to achieve this, the Commission decided it would go to variances beyond the 5% variance of the last two reports, and has gone as far as 8.13% variances in this report. In its work the Commission noted that recommending a higher number of seats would have resulted in significant numbers of county boundary breaches and high levels of discontinuity.
Chair of An Coimisiún Toghcháin, the Electoral Commission, Supreme Court Judge, Ms. Justice Marie Baker stated:
“Our recommendation for 174 TDs across 43 constituencies is the product of detailed analysis of constitutional and statutory limits. It arrives at a solution which best fits the needs of the country as a whole, as our population expands.
“The Commission is pleased to be in a position to recommend the removal of seven of the 10 existing breaches of county boundaries, reductions in the size of two existing breaches and to propose just three new county boundary breaches in the recommended constituency composition.
“Thanks to all those hundreds of people, parties and organisations who shared their ideas and proposals with us. Each was considered in making our final recommendations.”
“This Constituency Review is the first task of Ireland’s new Electoral Commission, An Coimisiún Toghcháin. At barely 6 months old, we are proud to deliver this significant democratic review of Ireland’s constituencies, the building blocks of our democracy, on time and in line with our statutory mandate.”
In relation to the European Parliament Constituency Review, Ms. Justice Marie Baker stated:
“The EU institutions have been deliberating for several months about the overall European Parliament composition, but no final decision on an additional seat has yet been confirmed. In this situation we have had to recommend the status quo while we await confirmation on a likely additional MEP seat for Ireland.”
For further information, please contact:
Brian Dawson, Communications and Public Engagement Manager,
An Coimisiún Toghcháin, The Electoral Commission,
086 0749344 – Brian.firstname.lastname@example.org
Variance in Constituency Reviews:
Article 16.2.3 of the Constitution states that, “The ratio between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency and the population of each constituency, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, so far as it is practicable, be the same throughout the country.”
Essentially, this means that each TD in the country, whether they represent people in Wexford, Cork, Donegal or Dublin, should represent the same amount of people, ‘so far as it is practicable’. Of course it is not possible for every TD to represent the exact same number of people. Therefore, each TD in a constituency would represent more or less than the national average. The measurement of this deviation from the national average is known as the ‘variance’. This concept is central to the Constituency Review process. See Chapter 5 of the Report for a full outline of this issue.
Recommended and Existing Constituencies:
The Electoral Commission received 556 submissions from elected representatives, political parties, academics, sports and community groups and interested individuals. All submissions are published on the Commission website www.electoralcommission.ie.
- In the light of the statutory importance of the preservation of country boundaries, and because the majority of submissions received by the Commission stressed the perceived importance of the maintenance of county boundaries, the Commission took the view that it was appropriate to propose some variances at a level higher than that proposed by the previous Review. Thus, the Commission has avoided proposing a number of new breaches of county boundaries.
- It was also able to propose removing seven of the 10 current breaches to county boundaries. These are the breaches of the Laois, Mayo, Meath, Offaly, Roscommon, Tipperary and Westmeath county boundaries and reductions in the size of two existing breaches.
- The Commission recommends reducing the overall number of breaches of county boundaries from the current 10 to six (Donegal, Galway, Kilkenny, Meath, Wexford and Wicklow).
An Coimisiún Toghcháin, The Electoral Commission
An Coimisiún Toghcháin is a statutory, independent body, established on 9 February 2023 with responsibility for a broad range of electoral functions set out in the Electoral Reform Act 2022. An Coimisiún is central to Ireland’s electoral system, carrying out a range of existing electoral functions, including:
- the conducting of reviews and making reports in relation to the constituencies for the election of members to the Dáil and the election of members to the European Parliament.
- responsibility for the registration of political parties.
- the decision-making, oversight, secretariat and supporting services associated with explaining the subject matter of referendum proposals, the promotion of public awareness of referendums and encouragement of the relectorate to vote at referendum polls; and
- making reports for the Minister in relation to local electoral boundaries.
An Coimisiún is also tasked with several new electoral roles, including:
- preparing research programmes and conducting research on electoral policy and procedure, and providing advice, as required, to the Minister and Government.
- promoting public awareness of, and working to increase public participation in the State’s electoral and democratic processes through education and information programmes;
- overseeing the modernised Electoral Register, making recommendations and setting standards in relation to its maintenance and updating;
- the regulation of online paid-for political advertising, ensuring transparency in respect of online political advertisements during the period of an election or referendum campaign;
- responsibility for the investigation and monitoring of online disinformation, online misinformation and manipulative or inauthentic behaviour online during election campaign periods, as well as functions to prevent manipulative or inauthentic behaviours online.
- the preparation of ex-post reports on the administration of electoral events.
It is anticipated that the initial set of functions assigned to An Coimisiún will be expanded upon as it builds capacity and expertise.