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174 TDs: Major changes to electoral constituencies announced as population shifts

A long-awaited proposed shake up of electoral constituencies has been announced, which will see the number of TDs for the next Dáil increased to 174, up from 160 – and the number of Dáil constituencies up from the current 39 to a new total of 43.

Amongst the constituencies seeing changes are Offaly which will revert to being a 3-seater, having being joined with Laois in the previous election, and Tipperary which will now be divided into two 3-seater constituencies again.

The most conspicuous change came in Wexford and Wicklow, where the two counties now share 3 constituencies. Wexford becomes a 4-seater, as does Wicklow,  but a new 3-seat constituency – Wicklow-Wexford (encompassing south Wicklow and north Wexford) has been created.

The decisions are based on population spread and population growth, with Galway East also gaining an extra seat to become a 4-seater, while Roscommon-Galway takes territory from Sligo-Leitrim constituency.

Dublin gains 5 seats in the proposed changes. The Dublin Fingal constituency has gained another seat and will become two 3-seat constituencies of Dublin Fingal East and Dublin Fingal West. Both Dublin Mid West and Dublin West will also become a 5-seater constituency, while Dublin Rathdown also gains a seat.

The constituency of Meath East will also increase its number of seats under the proposals to become a 4-seater, while Cork North Central and Cork South Central both become 5-seat constituencies

Commentators noted that the changes would see the number of three seat constituencies increasing from 9 to 13 – a change that might not favour smaller parties who often do better in larger constituencies.

This Constituency Review is the first task of the new independent electoral commission, An Coimisiún Toghcháin, and it has now submitted its report to the Dáil and Seanad.

“With the increase in population since the last census, it is necessary for the number of TDs to be increased to meet the requirements in Article 16.2 of the Constitution, that each of our TDs should represent, on average, 20,000 to 30,000 people,” the Commission said.

“The Electoral Reform Act 2022 fixed the range within which the Commission could recommend as lying between 171 and 181 TDs. Therefore, the Commission is in a position to recommend that the number of TDs could increase by between 11 and 21. The figure of 174 that we recommend 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,” they explained.

Referring to the proposed changes, the Commission said that: “the constitutional provisions in Article 16 link the number of TDs to the population and also require that the ratio of members to population be “the same” throughout the country “as far as it is  practicable”.”

Yesterday, the Irish Daily Mail correspondent, Craig Hughes had a humorous take on the proposed changes.

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