FG members vent anger at boundary changes

Senior Fine Gael members in Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s constituency of Mayo have written to Phil Hogan, the environment minister, to express anger at proposals to change its boundaries.

Fine Gael’s constituency officer board in the county wrote to Mr Hogan last month following the publication of the report of the Constituency Commission.

The commission is an independent body tasked with ensuring that the population of each constituency is sufficiently represented.

In its report this summer, it recommended that the number of constituencies be cut from 43 to 40, with the existing boundaries redrawn in a number of them.

Mayo is one of the constituencies affected by the recommendations.

Nine electoral divisions in the South Mayo area of Ballinrobe are set to be transferred to the Galway West constituency.

As a result, Mayo will drop from a five-seat to a four-seat constituency at the next general election.

The letter, written by the constituency secretary and obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, states: “At a meeting of the Mayo constituency officer board held on Thursday Jul 19, 2012, there was considerable anger by the members present and I have been instructed to inform you that the following motions were passed at our meeting.

“Calling on the minister for environment, community and& local government to ensure that the six electoral [areas] in Co Mayo namely Ballina, Belmullet, Castlebar, Claremorris, Swinford and Westport are left unchanged in any boundary review that is to take place.

“That the newly formed constituency of Galway West which includes a large part of South Mayo should be renamed Galway West/ South Mayo to reflect the large part of Mayo now in the new constituency.”

Mr Kenny’s parliamentary assistant, Mayo councillor Ger Deere, said the Taoiseach had not been privy to the letter and would not get involved in such issues.

The Fine Gael TD set to be worst affected by the changes, John O’Mahony — whose South Mayo heartland will move into Galway West — wrote separately to the minister.

Mr O’Mahony, possibly in recognition of the tradition that Governments accept in full the reports of the commission, did not request that the Mayo electoral areas be left unchanged.

However, like the constituency officer board, he did ask that the Galway West constituency be renamed if the Ballinrobe divisions are moved into it.

In his letter, he told of attending a meeting of the Ballinrobe/Claremorris district Fine Gael branch and the “huge disappointment and anger” expressed there.

“One of the complaints highlighted was that the name of the constituency remains as Galway West totally ignoring and removing the identity of 10,000 people in South Mayo. I would ask you to include in the legislation when it is laid before the Dáil to rename the new constituency Galway West/South Mayo so as to recognise the new area of Mayo included.”


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