Under proposed reforms, Tipperary, which had two constituencies, will now be just one and its length, at approximately 110 miles, will be longer than the distance from Tipperary Senator Denis Landy’s Carrick-On-Suir home to Dublin, he told the Upper House.
Following the Commission’s recommendation, the new constituency will cover 93% of the county, he said. Despite an increase in population of 8.2% in South Tipperary, the two Tipperary constituencies are being made into one.
“The Government decided to reduce the number of seats in the Dáil as part of the Programme for Government and we are now seeing this being implemented,” he said. “We must also address the disparity in population densities. For example, counties Laois and Kildare are overpopulated as against the number of seats, while County Limerick and parts of Dublin are underpopulated for the number of seats allocated. We must ensure equalisation in this area, although there are swings and roundabouts. When a job of work is set out for a commission, there are always difficult decisions to be made.”
The Government was fulfilling the constitutional requirement under Article 16.2.4o to ensure reviews are carried out every 12 years, he said. This change was being made partly as a cost saving measure, but the cost savings - no more than what would be saved in the case of the Seanad - will be minimal.
“When talking about reform, we should not put it all down to the word ‘reduction’,” he said. “Reform is about changing the way we do things. When the measure that has been introduced to deal with the gender issue is acted out at the next general election, I am not sure we will find that its results will be for the betterment of democracy in this country. I will have to wait and see. I hope I am proved wrong.”