Rural biases in Irish politics ‘extend beyond cabinet’

The decision to leave large parts of rural Ireland without a vote at the cabinet table “may well be a continuation of the biases that currently exist for these areas at a political level”, according to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA).

Commenting on Dáil representation, INHFA spokesperson Vincent Roddy outlined that the current election process to Dáil Éireann “favours urban areas and in particular Dublin over rural constituencies”.

Roddy contrasted the total electorate for the 10 constituencies of Dublin to the 10 constituencies that run from Donegal to Limerick and to Westmeath in the east.

The total electorate for the Dublin region comes to 907,132 – while the electorate for the western region is just over 10,000 less at 896,535. However, Dublin is represented by 45 TDs, while the western region has six less at 39 TDs.

On a ratio basis for elected TDs, Dublin elects one TD for every 20,158 electorate members, while the western region elects one TD for every 22,988.

“This is a difference of almost 3,000 electorate members and similar comparisons can be seen across other rural constituencies in the south east and is even more pronounced in Tipperary where there is a difference of almost 5,000,” Roddy said.

“In the Dublin commuter belt of Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow there is also a bonus for those running for election to Dáil Éireann but it is not as pronounced as in the capital. In these areas the figure is 21,189 for every elected TD,” he added.

“Inside these regional areas there are some very baffling outcomes,” Roddy explained.

For example, in Dublin Central they elect four TDs from an electorate of 61,998, while in Roscommon/Galway with an electorate of 69,598 they only elected three TDs.

Likewise, in Dublin West there are four TDs from an electorate of 70,337, while in Limerick county only three TDs are elected from an electorate of 72,165,” he pointed out.

“Going forward there is a need to look at how we configure constituencies and ensure that the electoral commission doesn’t just base it on census figures but also recognise the register of electors.”

Concluding, Roddy stressed that he is not suggesting there is anything underhanded in the way these constituencies were configured.

However, he highlighted that there is a need for the electoral commission to look again at representation levels and make the necessary changes where required.