Counting the votes in last year's general election at the UL Arena
THE changes in population recorded in last year’s census figures have, once again, led to changes in Limerick’s two Dail constituencies, Limerick City and Limerick County.
But it will take intense scrutiny by party tallymen and vote managers to figure out what effect, if any, the changes could have in future elections.
There are three main changes as recommended in the Constituency Commission report published this week. Over 2000 voters in the Doon West, Cappamore and Bilboa area have now been transferred back into Limerick County, even though in last year’s general election, they were voting in the Limerick City constituency; 5,994 voters from Limerick suburbs Parteen and Westbury will be moved to Clare while 4,375 voters from Tipperary’s Birdhill and Newport areas will be transferred into Limerick City.
Cappamore councillor Noel Gleeson was angry about the review which he said was based on calculator. The move re-unites Doon, he explained, but Cappamore voters remain split across the two constituencies. But what bothers him is the constant back and forth.
“I don’t mind which way as long as we are left be,” he said. “Will they come on after this and we will be back in the city? That is crazy.”
However, his party colleague, Deputy Willie O’Dea, said he was looking forward to “rekindling” his contacts with those he knew and supported him among the new Tipperary voters. There are a lot of Limerick people living in those areas, he pointed out.
But he accepted the changes were “very disruptive for the people in the area who are used to being represented by a particular person”.
He was supportive however of the recommendation to reunite the Clare constituency even though he will lose votes in Westbury and Parteen as a result.
“I am sorry to be losing my near neighbours,” Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan said who also wins a lot of votes in the same area.
“I come originally from Clonlara and I live just over the bridge. I think I will lose out.”
“I can understand the idea of preserving the county boundary,” she added, “but you wonder how consistent it is given that Tipperary is coming into Limerick.”
But she she felt it was “very unfair” on the Cappamore, Doon and Bilboa voters that they were being transferred yet again. “It seems unfair to be changing the same people again and again,” she said.
Fianna Fail TD, Niall Collins was, more than anything, relieved that Limerick and the Mid-West have not lost a TD in the review.
“Over the previous reviews we have seen a drift in seats going to the greater Dublin area and the east coast at the expense of other parts of the country, “he said. “In my view, it is important that we retain as many voices as possible advocating for the region.”
He was also unhappy about the second change which will see 4,375 voters in the Newport and Birdhill areas of Co Tipperary being included in the Limerick City constituency. “Parish and county are sacrosanct going back through the centuries, he said.
The review is mandatory in order to ensure that the ratio of voters to TDs remains within certain, laid-down guidelines. As a result of population increase, the overall number of TDs will now increase by two, from 158 to 160 but the number of constituencies will fall from 40 to 39.