Minister Phelan establishes Local Electoral Area Boundary Committees

Published on Wednesday, 13 Dec 2017
John Paul Phelan TD

Mr John Paul Phelan T.D., Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, announced today (13 December 2017) that he has established two committees to review and make recommendations on local electoral areas.

The Committees’ reports will be considered by Minister Phelan as the basis for the revision of local electoral areas under his statutory powers.  The review of local electoral areas is being undertaken in prospect of the local elections to be held in 2019. In doing their work, the committees are to have regard to the results of Census 2016 and to assume no change in the total membership of each local authority.

The Minister has asked the Committees to report to him as soon as possible but no later than six months.

The terms of reference for the Committees are attached and the Minister has appointed the following persons to the Committees:

Committee No. 1

  • Geraldine Tallon, former Secretary General at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, who will act as Chairperson;
  • Dr Theresa Reidy, Department of Government, University College Cork;
  • Ned O’Connor, former Manager, South Tipperary County Council;
  • Virginia McLoone, former Senior Executive Officer, Donegal County Council;
  • Seamus Boland, Chief Executive Officer, Irish Rural Link.

This Committee will report and make recommendations on every county, other than Cork, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Galway and South Dublin, as well as Limerick City and County and Waterford City and County.  For these Councils, the number of councillors will be not less than 5 and not more than 7 for each local electoral area, provided that in particular compelling circumstances, 3 or 4 seat local electoral areas may be recommended.

Committee No. 2

  • Tom O’Mahony, former Secretary General at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, who will act as Chairperson;
  • Peter Caulfield, former Director of Services, Fingal County Council;
  • Professor Tom Collins, Chair of the Governing Body, Dublin Institute of Technology;
  • Anne O’Keeffe, former Director, the Office for Local Authority Management;

This Committee will report and make recommendations on Dublin City, and the counties of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin.  For these Councils the number of Councillors will be not less than 5 and not more than 7.

TERMS OF REFERENCE

Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee No. 1

1.         To review and to make recommendations on the division of each county, other than Cork, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Galway and South Dublin, and each city and county, into local electoral areas and the number of members of each county council and each city and county council to be assigned to each such electoral area.

2.         For the purpose of the review, the Committee should have regard to the population as ascertained at Census 2016, should assume no change in the total membership of each local authority specified in the Local Government Act 2001 as amended by the Local Government Reform Act 2014 and should endeavour, as far as practicable and subject to the other requirements of these terms of reference, to achieve variance from individual average local authority representation within the range of plus or minus 10%.

3.         The number of councillors assigned to a local electoral area shall be not less than 5 and not more than 7 provided that in particular compelling circumstances 3 or 4 seat local electoral areas may be recommended, where otherwise the geographic size of the area would be disproportionately large.

4.         Except in the case of Metropolitan Districts (Limerick and Waterford), a distinct urban-focused local electoral area or areas, as appropriate, shall be designated in respect of each town the population of which within the county as ascertained at Census 2016, when rounded to the nearest 1,000, is equal to or greater than 15,000. The number of members of the county council to be assigned to each such local electoral area shall not be less than 5, as far as practicable.    Each such electoral area shall be based, as far as practicable, on the areas of the “census town” as defined for the purposes of Census 2016.

5.         A distinct local electoral area shall be designated in respect of each county town which does not come within the scope of article 4. Each such electoral area shall be based, as far as practicable, on the areas of the “census town” as defined for the purposes of Census 2016.

6.         Other local electoral areas should be designed, as far as possible, around urban centres, taking due account of local and community identities and linkages as well as natural boundaries and the need to facilitate the effectiveness of the governance and representational roles of elected members, including, in particular, the need to avoid designating local electoral areas which are territorially very large or extend over very long distances.

7.         In making recommendations in relation to local electoral areas the Committee should take account of the following proposals in relation to the configuration of Municipal Districts:

  1. Each town which was formerly a borough or the population of which within the county as ascertained at Census 2016, when rounded to the nearest 1,000, is equal to or greater than 30,000 shall be designated as a distinct Municipal Borough District; the number of members of the county council to be assigned to each such Municipal District shall not be less than five, and such Municipal Districts shall consist of one or more local electoral areas as the committee considers appropriate.
  2. Subject to any changes arising from sub-article (i), there should be no change in the configuration of Municipal Districts generally, save in such limited circumstances where the Committee considers it necessary to recommend such a change.
  3. Municipal Districts may be divided into 2 or more local electoral areas as the Committee considers appropriate, except where the terms of reference (particularly sub-article (i)) require otherwise, or where the Committee considers that it would not be appropriate.
  4. The number of Municipal District Members for each district shall not be less than 6 save in the case of a district to which sub-article (i) applies or where, in exceptional circumstances (for example, related to population), the Committee considers that it is necessary that a district should consist of a single local electoral area, in which case the number of members shall not be less than 5.

8.         The Committee shall have regard to Government policy in relation to local government, including any further reports, statements or decisions in that regard during the course of the review, and to any further guidance or requirements issued by the Minister.

Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee No. 2

  1. To review and to make recommendations on the division of Dublin City and the counties of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin into local electoral areas and the number of members of each city or county council to be assigned to each such electoral area.
  2. For the purpose of the review, the Committee should have regard to the population as ascertained at Census 2016, should assume no change in the total membership of each local authority specified in the Local Government Act 2001 as amended by the Local Government Reform Act 2014 and should endeavour, as far as practicable and subject to the other requirements of these terms of reference, to achieve variance from individual average local authority representation within the range of plus or minus 10%.
  3. The number of councillors assigned to a local electoral area shall be not less than 5 and not more than 7.
  4. Local electoral areas should be designed, as far as possible, around urban villages or have a neighbourhood focal point (or points), taking due account of local and community identities and linkages and the need to facilitate the effectiveness of the governance and representational roles of elected members, including, in particular, the need to avoid designating local electoral areas which are territorially very large or extend over very long distances or over multiple  urban villages, or which divide individual urban villages or natural communities.
  5. The committee should take account of the desirability, where it may be possible to do so, of aligning local electoral area boundaries with Dáil constituency boundaries.
  6. The Committee shall have regard to Government policy in relation to local government, including any further reports, statements or decisions in that regard during the course of the review, and to any further guidance or requirements issued by the Minister.
  7. The Committee may also be asked to make recommendations on the division of Cork and Galway into local electoral areas. The Terms of Reference for that purpose will be set out in due course.

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