Boundary redraw not an easy task, says Electoral Commission chair

Boundary Redraw Not An Easy Task, Says Electoral Commission Chair
Making decisions around Ireland’s electoral boundaries was described as a battle between maths and geography. Photo: PA Images
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Rebecca Black and Cillian Sherlock, PA

Redrawing Ireland’s electoral constituencies was “not an easy task”, with changes sparking a “domino effect” on neighbouring areas, the chairwoman of the Electoral Commission said.

Supreme Court judge Ms Justice Marie Baker described a “big constitutional question” in making decisions to ensure equality of representation across the country.


She said in some constituencies the answer was “clear enough”, but there was then a knock on effect to deal with.

Unveiling the commission’s Constituency Review 2023 in Dublin on Wednesday morning, Ms Baker said they broke the country up into regions.

A journalist looks at a map of Ireland showing European Parliament Constituencies during a press conference at the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin, for the Electoral Commission announcement of the much-anticipated new constituency boundaries for Ireland
New constituency boundaries for Ireland have been recommended (Brian Lawless/PA)


“We started in the North West but for methodological reasons we broke the country up into regions because we were aware of the domino effect very early,” she said.

“The domino effect is biggest in the middle of the country and there were a few constituencies that gave us nightmares and terrors because the constituencies in the middle of the country, the domino falls all around, whereas if you’re a constituency on the coast you simply can’t move into the sea, so the effect is less so.

“The process was interesting because we looked at different regions, conscious that the region was not an electoral division or not a constituency, but because the region best reflected or represented the dominos.

“The middle of the country, Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Laois, you can see all of those counties cause great problems because everything you do impacts on the neighbouring county.”


The commission’s chief executive Art O’Connor described a battle between maths and geography.

“Sometimes geography wins, sometimes maths wins,” he said.

“In all of the submissions, people asked us to reduce the number of three-seater constituencies, including unanimity across the political system, that’s not something that can be easily ignored.

“Where possible, there were four seaters and five seaters included but when we’re looking at some parts of the country, like Tipperary and Laois-Offaly, it just simply wasn’t possible to avoid three seaters. This is where the maths wins out, rather than the geography.”


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