Minister Murphy establishes Constituency Committee to review European Parliament constituencies
Mr. Eoghan Murphy, TD, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, yesterday (24 July 2018) made an order under section 5(1A) of the Electoral Act 1997 establishing an independent committee to report on European Parliament constituencies.
In accordance with the 1997 Act, the Chief Justice has nominated the Hon. Mr. Justice Robert Haughton to act as chairperson of the committee. The other members of the committee, as set out in the Act, are:
- the Secretary General of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
(Mr. John McCarthy),
- the Ombudsman, (Mr. Peter Tyndall),
- the Clerk of the Dáil (Mr. Peter Finnegan), and
- the Clerk of the Seanad (Mr. Martin Groves).
The Committee is required to report to the chairman of the Dáil no later than two months after its establishment (i.e. by 24 September 2018).
The European Council on 28 June 2018 made a decision on the number of MEPs to be elected for the 2019–2024 parliamentary term. This provides for 13 members to be elected in Ireland, an increase from the present 11 members. A review of European Parliament constituencies is therefore necessary; this will involve, among other things, a public consultation process.
The Committee’s terms of reference are set out in the Electoral Act 1997. They are set out below:
- the total number of representatives to be elected in the State to the European Parliament shall be such number as may be specified for the time being pursuant to the treaties governing the European Communities
- there shall be reasonable equality of representation as between constituencies
- each constituency shall return 3, 4 or 5 members
- the breaching of county boundaries shall be avoided as far as practicable
- each constituency shall be composed of contiguous areas
- there shall be regard to geographic considerations including significant physical features and the extent of and the density of population in each constituency
- subject to the above provisions, the Committee shall endeavour to maintain continuity in relation to the arrangement of constituencies.
The requirement to avoid the breaching of county boundaries as far as possible is deemed not to include a reference to the boundary of a city or any boundary between any two of the counties of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin.
The total number of representatives to be elected in the State to the European Parliament specified pursuant to the Treaty on European Union is 13 in accordance with the decision of the European Council of 28 June 2018.