Forget irate voters, bog cuttings or tribunal reports. Nothing puts the fear of the political gods into our elected TDs’s like the Constituency Commission. Despite being a traditionally conservative Independent statutory body, the mere mention of the commission redrawing a constituency boundary is enough to cause a mild cardiac event for all TD’s.
The constituency commission came into effect as a result of the 1997 Electoral Act.
The commission members are
- Mr Justice John Cooke – Chairman and current High Court Judge
- Geraldine Tallon – Secretary General of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
- Emily O’Reilly – Ombudsman
- Kieran Coughlan – Clerk of the Dáil
- Deirdre Lane – Clerk of the Seanad
One wonders did some TD’s not read the fine print before they voted on the act. Imagine the shock amongst some TD’s in 1998 when the commission decided to hack away at 4 Dublin constituencies to create Dublin mid-west. What happened in Dublin in 1998 is a minor illness compared to the massive heart attack the commission gave to Dáil deputies today. Not since the infamous “Tullymander” in 1977 has there been such upheaval. The drastic constituency boundary changes drawn up by Jim Tully of the Labour Party, would ensure the return of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition, but once Fianna Fáil got more than 50% of the vote, it had the reverse impact and led to the return of Fianna Fáil with the largest majority since the civil war. One of the greatest Irish political fails of all time.
Most TD’s would have been quietly seething at todays report and some not so quietly.
Oddly enough Sinn Féin have been the most vocal on the issue. Those great reformers, paragons of virtue and honour have come out against the report. Cavan-Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has criticised the report here. In fairness he talks glowing about the reunification of Leitrim, Like it was the six counties. Brian Stanley TD for Laois Offaly, today said we actually need more TD’s in his statement here. That’s right Brian more TD’s are what we need, the electorate would love that. I’m sure there is a joke in there about Sinn Féin and their recent misappropriation of expenses scandal.
Harry McGee over on the Irish times website does some analysis on who may lose they’re seats here. I imagine Dr. Adrian Kavanagh’s excellent blog on political geography which can be found here , will be getting more views than normal from Leinster house today. As sweaty nervous TD’s refresh his website nervously wondering what the political soothsayer will predict.
As a result of today’s report we will see an industrial level of parish politics until the next general election. TD’s will be trying to protect their patch like a ferocious a female lion protecting her cubs. A The Bill is expected to come before the Dáil to be voted on before christmas. Will watch with mild amusement as some of the political turkeys will be voting for christmas. No TD would dare go off on a solo run and openly vote against the bill.
This reduction in the number of TD’s is not political reform. Reducing the number of TD’s by eight will not make the Dail run more efficient or be more accountable. It is nothing more than windowing dressing and capitulation to the baying populist mob.