Some ministers and TDs say their areas have been left disenfranchised by previous changes to Dáil electoral areas while other representatives want constituency revisions reversed.
Almost 230 submissions were made to the independent boundary commission by yesterday’s deadline. The commission will give a report to the Dáil in June, after new population census figures are available in March.
Housing and Planning Minister Simon Coveney is already facing pressure to stop any substantial overhauling of Dáil boundaries from within his own party.
Arts Minister Heather Humphreys said changes to her area cause “much confusion and frustration” for residents, noting that west Cavan voters still seek help from their old constituency and that a campaign to reunite Cavan attracted “significant support”.
She said: “I would urge that serious consideration be given to the proposed reunification of Cavan as part of the forthcoming review.”
Her constituency colleague was equally frustrated. TD Niamh Smith said Cavan should be reunited, after its separation caused “worry, annoyance, and concern”.
People in west and south Cavan have “been left disenfranchised” by the previous boundary decision to place their county into Sligo-Leitrim, she said. There is a “dichotomy” between local and national elections, where TDs from the latter represent people as far away as Sligo, she submitted.
One Fine Gael senator pulled no punches when it came to previous changes. Party leader in the Seanad Jerry Buttimer complained that large portions of Cork were put into Cork North Central in the last constituency change there. This divided communities, including Bishopstown and Glasheen. The changes ignored the key boundary of the River Lee, unlike boundary moves around the River Liffey in Dublin.
He said: “It is clear that the redrafted boundary serviced the need of some mathematical logarithm and certainly did not take the need of the community it divided into consideration.”
Mr Buttimer said the work of the boundary commission was to serve the needs of the community rather than “the needs to draw lines on maps or mathematics”. Many voters in Cork South Central, the former TD’s area, now feel disenfranchised, he said.
His party colleague, former TD Alan Shatter, wants commission changes reversed in Dublin-Rathdown and it returned to a four-seater, by including the neighbourhoods of Rathfarnham, Ballyboden, and Knocklyon. This would reflect the former Dáil constituency of south Dublin, he noted.
Changes for Carlow-Kilkenny have also stirred debate. Fine Gael’s Pat Deering wants parts of east Carlow, his native county, taken into the constituency. Residents there feel isolated — they come to him for help but pay their charges to Wicklow, he said.
Fine Gael’s Peter Burke says Westmeath should not be divided up with Longford. He said the previous carving up of the county with its neighbour was a “mistake”.