Local government boundaries review

The Minister for Environment and Local Government, John Gormley TD, last week announced the details of a commission to study existing boundaries and sizes for local area wards and report back by 20th June. The move was widely expected in political circles as there has been substantial population movement since the last review (1998) with resulting variances in the representation level of different areas. In other words some people have more councillors to go around than others.

The guidelines for the review state that the minimum number of councillors in any given ward should be four and that local boundaries should be kept in line with Dáil boundaries. The guidelines state that whilst the total number of councillors in any given authority should remain unchanged, areas and seats can be reshuffled across wards.

What this means for politicans and the electorate is as follows. Sitting councillors shall remain in situ until June next year when the next local elections are due to occur. Those elections will be fought on the basis of the new local areas and the revised number of seats in each.

Map of current Naas LEA
Map showing current wards within Naas LEA

The commission will be inviting submissions and I intend studying the various Kildare wards more thoroughly in the coming weeks, but my initial observations are as follows:

  • The Naas LEA is currently split across Kildare North and Kildare South Dáil constituencies. This means that electors (and councillors) end up dealing with two different sets of TDs, depending which end of the ward they are in, and would be due for revision according to the new guidlines.
  • The Ballymore/Kilcullen end of the Naas LEA is entirely in Kildare South and hence may be moved out of Naas and into an existing or newly created ward in the Kildare South constituency.
  • Caragh is in the same boat, as also in the Kildare South constituency, although arguably is more a natural hinterland of Naas, and may have an argument for remaining adjoined.
  • Sallins is on the cusp of three LEAs, namely Naas, Clane and Celbridge. It could conceivably move into Clane or at a push join up with Straffan/Ardclough for an expanded Celbridge ward.
  • Naas has five councillors currently which leaves it vulnerable to losing a councillor to a three-seater to satisfy the new minimal four-seater requirement.
  • The Naas LEA currrently has a very high ratio of councillors to constituents, (8329:1) putting it at almost double the national average (4916:1). This could allow it lose the Kildare South portion without needing to pick up elsewhere.
  • Unfortunately as the review effectively freezes the total number of councillors in each authority (in our case KCC) it does mean we will still have a higher than average variance, whatever way it pans out. In a nutshell this means Kildare people have less councillors to serve the same number of people as elsewhere. Anway, more on all this anon..

    3 Replies to “Local government boundaries review”

    1. Tony

      I think the most disappointing thing is that the number of councillors remains frozen – meaning Kildare will remain the least represented county council. It seems jesuitic of the minister to see equal representation as a term of reference internally in an authority’s region (the review is to limit internal variance to +-10% while inter-county regional variations are huge – Kildare has about 6 or 7 times as many people per councillor as Leitrim). Perhaps there might be a case under Article 40.1 of the constitution about equality under the law.

      The other interesting question for Kildare will be whether the recommendation that LEAs follow Dáil boundaries will trump the recommendation that 3-seaters are to be avoided.

      I’ve more on blog at http://drtod.wordpress.com.

    2. Pingback: View from the Tracks » Blog Archive » Kildare Boundary Submissions

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