The Electoral Commission published its constituency review this week. The report recommends 174 TDs in the next Dáil, an increase of 14. The number of constituencies would also increase, from 39 to 43.
Limerick City TD Brian Leddin said: “The Commission had one hand tied behind its back by being asked to align constituencies with county boundaries. In the case of Newport, Birdhill and Kilcomenty it makes sense that these are in the Tipperary constituency but it makes much less sense that suburbs of Limerick City, like Westbury and Shannon Banks, are not in the Limerick City constituency.”
In relation to Limerick City, it is unlike most Irish cities - with only Waterford being similar - in that it is located on the county boundary with suburbs extending into County Clare. While the Commission places a high importance on aligning Dáil constituencies with county boundaries, in the case of the Limerick City constituency it makes less sense to do so. The natural economic and administrative catchment of Limerick City very much includes the suburbs of Westbury and Shannon Banks as well as Ardnacrusha and Parteen (the electoral areas of Ballyglass and Cappavilla). While previously these areas were part of the Limerick City constituency, they are currently split away from it in the Clare constituency. This incoherence means that the residents of those suburbs are represented by politicians of a largely rural constituency, whose urban centre is 41 km away in Ennis, despite the fact that those residents are living in areas that are contiguous to Limerick City.
“The can has been kicked down the road but ultimately local authority boundaries and constituency boundaries will need to be revised to fit more appropriately with population growth and urban development,” he concluded.
Limerick City constituency will remain a 4-seater, losing three electoral divisions, Birdhill, Kilcomenty and Newport, that will form part of a new 3-seater constituency, Tipperary North.