County boundaries should be respected in any review of Dáil constituencies, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Alan Dillon said there is clear evidence from turnouts that the electorate of a small county area, when it is lumped in with a neighbouring constituency and different county, is lower than the rest of its constituency at subsequent elections.
Currently the Electoral Commission is accepting and examining submissions from the public of Dáil constituency boundaries ahead of the next General Election. A decision is expected this August.
Deputy Dillon said previous commissions have stated as a general rule, the breaching of provincial boundaries should be avoided.
“Turnout in what we could call displaced areas of one county was lower than the rest of the constituency in which voters found themselves being asked to vote in. Meanwhile, the turnout was subsequently higher again in the home county of the small area that had been moved into a neighbouring constituency and county,” Deputy Dillon said.
“This is about ensuring that we have a good and healthy democracy that does its utmost to ensure voter turnout is as high as possible. Isn’t that what we want – public participation to decide who represents them in the legislature,” he added.
Currently, parts of Mayo are in the Galway West constituency, sections of Laois and Offaly are in the Kildare South constituency while areas of North West Tipperary are included in Limerick city. In total across the country, eight constituencies include parts of ten neighbouring counties.
“We want all voters to be motivated, feel included and recognised when it comes to election day and exercising their vote. Do not place sections of the electorate in a neighbouring constituency just because it might be an easy decision to make.
“Voting is about community, identity and shaping the future of the area you live in and we should ensure this is so for as many voters as possible. Just over 100 years since the foundation of the State, those that helped us achieve it deserve nothing less,” Deputy Dillon said.
The constitution sets out there should be one TD per 20,000-30,000 people but with a rising population based at 5.1million, the current ratio is 1 per 32,000. The Electoral Commission has a Dáil license to create between 11 and 21 addition TDs.