Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
Boundary revision to have seismic effect on local political landscapeMay 30, 2012 - 3:03pm
With two weeks to go before the Government announces proposals to reduce the number of TDs in the Dáil and revising the boundaries of a number of constituencies, the speculation has intensified that it will have rather dramatic consequences for Galway and the West of Ireland in general.
While there are those who suggest that Galway will not be touched and that both constituencies will remain the same apart from a piece of Mayo coming into Galway West - with Enda Kenny’s home county being transformed into a four-seater from five - sources close to the Government suggest that the reform could be more wide-ranging and will have little regard for county boundaries.
There is now every possibility that a return to the situation in which a large part of Galway East is lumped in with County Roscommon – a similar scenario existed up until the late ‘70s – in order to make a three seat constituency.
In the last General Election, Roscommon was partnered with South Leitrim but the reform group wants to keep both counties intact because of their relatively small population.
It is understood that the reform group looked at the possibility of bringing part of Mayo in with Roscommon into a three-seat constituency, but the population required to make a third seat meant that it was not geographically suitable so then they turned their attention to Galway East and a stretch along the River Suck that would take in Ballinasloe, Ballygar, Mountbellew, Williamstown, Glenamaddy and Dunmore.
Roscommon has a population that can justify two seats, so it is widely believed that the reform group will add in this part of East Galway, providing an additional population of around 28,000, giving the required third seat.
If this proves to be the case then there will be a lot of grimacing and gnashing of teeth in a certain Connaughton household just outside the village of Mountbellew. This would be their ultimate political nightmare.
But before getting into the personalities and how it would affect sitting TDs and aspiring ones, here is what is being widely suggested in Government circles: Donegal will be transformed from two three-seaters into one five-seater; the southern tip of Donegal and part of West Cavan will be aligned in an enlarged Sligo/Leitrim four seat constituency; Mayo will reduce from a five-seater to four seats with a large chunk of South Mayo going into Galway West; to compensate for this Galway West will lose the Oranmore Electoral Area into Galway East; with a large tract of the eastern and northern part of the county going into Roscommon, the current Galway East will revert to three-seater.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.