Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Local Authority Boundaries Review
The Senator is right about the municipal districts and I have seen it happen in my constituency of Roscommon. The Athlone Municipal District of Monksland runs from Shannonbridge in County Offaly to halfway down the country. There is no connection between the areas. The communities do not even know how to get from one end of the district to the other. The districts are all six-seaters in Roscommon due to the population. Sometimes these districts do not work that well when the population is dispersed.
The Senator is right that we must examine anomalies and challenges, particularly on a geographical basis. The idea behind local government is to have local councillors and that connection has been broken in many parts of the country.
The Senator raised the interesting issue of a review of district electoral divisions that dates back to 1851. If a review were to take place, it would not be done for the next local elections. A review of the district electoral divisions would be complex, slow and expensive. The Senator made a valid point for a review by pointing out that many towns are divided by district divisions. My own constituency is divided by a district division. The town of Dunmore is in two Dáil constituencies. Part of the town is in the constituency of east Galway and the remaining part is in the constituency of Roscommon-Galway. Most towns and rivers have a drain or a river running through them, which causes problems in terms of district divisions. The same applies to disadvantaged areas. Electoral division is a very complex area and is a matter that one must think long and carefully about.