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Fianna Fáil the big winners of election boundary status quo

The decision of the Electoral Commission to leave the Clare Dáil Constituency unchanged has been described as a boost to Fianna Fáil’s chances of winning two seats in the county.
Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF) is delighted that the Commission has opted not to return part of South-East Clare to Limerick for the next General Election, as his decision to run for the first time in 2020 was greatly influenced by the return of this portion of the county.
His Fianna Fáil party colleague, Timmy Dooley, believes the decision to leave the county intact for the next General Election is a boost for the party’s chance to secure two out of the four seats. Despite an increase in the Clare population by 9,121 (7.7%) from 2016 to 2022, the Commission decided in the interest of retaining the county boundary and maintaining continuity, it was decided to leave the Clare constituency unchanged.
Deputy Cathal Crowe welcomed the decision to keep Clare’s constituency retains all of the county boundary for the next General Election.
“It makes so much sense and nationwide the Commission has kept county boundaries intact in so far as possible,” he said.
“The inclusion of the Westbury, Parteen, Shannon Banks and Ardnacrusha in the constituency five years ago was a major factor for me deciding to go for election to the Dáil.
“I felt when this corner of Clare was in the Limerick constituency, it gave me a weak starting point if I was to launch a General Election bid.
“The inclusion of these communities made it possible for me to run and successfully win a seat in 2020. There is a heightened sense of identity along the border areas of Clare.”
“Most people are relieved, particularly in my home area that the county boundary has been left intact,” continued Deputy Crowe.
“I intend to run for re-election and aligning the constituency fully with the county boundary makes it a more level playing pitch for all parties and candidates contesting the next election.”
While Senator Timmy Dooley is very happy that part of South-East Clare wasn’t hived off for Limerick, he didn’t think it would happen because Limerick didn’t need it.
Senator Dooley is also very pleased that a submission calling for Killaloe, Ogonnelloe, Scariff and Mounthshannon to move into Tipperary didn’t happen.
“The retention of South-East Clare is a boost for Fianna Fáil and gives us a real shot of winning two seats at the next General Election,” he said. “If we had lost Ballyglass, which has a population of between 5,000 and 6,000 or any part of the county, it wouldn’t be good. The decision not to change the boundary is a good result. We have to fight any erosion of the county following the start of a campaign to do this, which could grow legs again.”
Deputy Michael McNamara (Ind)is happy that Clare people in all parts of the county will get the opportunity to vote in the next General Election, which hasn’t always happened.
The Independent Deputy welcomed the Commission’s decision not to accept a submission to move Killaloe, Ogonnelloe, Scariff and Mountshannon into North Tipperary.
Expecting some change in the next General Election in Clare, Deputy McNamara said he isn’t aware of any two Clare elections producing the same result in recent times.
The Independent Deputy said he expects Clare will return one Fianna Fáil, one Fine Gael and one Sinn Féin with the last seat a battle between a second Sinn Féin candidate, if the party decide to add another candidate, a second Fianna Fáil candidate, an Independent and others.
If the Ballyglass DED in South-East Clare went back into Limerick, he acknowledged this would be a blow for Deputy Cathal Crowe.
Deputy McNamara recalled there was a lot of discussion about the possibility of part of North and North East Clare moving into a new expanded Galway constituency, which didn’t happen.
“As a TD for Clare, I am honoured to represent all of County Clare, and I am happy the county boundaries will be respected for the next election,” he said.
“Changing the boundary was an objective of the Electoral Commission but is not one that they managed to achieve.”
Deputy Violet Anne-Wynne (Ind) said she expected Deputy Crowe would be very happy that part of South-East Clare wasn’t moved into Limerick, which is an election boost for him.
In view of the speculation about this possible change, she was a little bit surprised but happy it didn’t happen.
She believes the retention of the county boundary is a boost for mainstream parties like Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil because if some of the constituency was removed it would have increased the chances for independents as the bigger parties traditional larger first preference share would be taken from a smaller electorate.
Acknowledging the population in Clare has increased without any increase in Dáil representation, Senator Martin Conway (FG) said the Commission made the right decision to respect county boundaries.
“Having one Clare constituency with public representatives representing all parts of the county gives us a strong platform to advocate for funding for projects like Ennis 2040, Cliffs of Moher 2040, Moneypoint Generating Station and Shannon Airport, which are important for the long term future of the county,” he said.
Asked about whether the retention of South-East Clare would help Fine Gael to try and win two seats, Senator Conway said the party has a Dáil Deputy, Joe Carey and a senator and eight hard working councillors.
Stating it is always hard to increase the number of seats a party can win in an election, he said Fine Gael’s priority is the Local Elections on June 7, 2024, which would hopefully see an increase in Fine Gael councillors.
The Clare constituency now has a population of 127,938, leaving it with a relatively high variance of 8.08%. The Irish constitution says there needs to be one TD to represent every 20,000 to 30,000 people.
Submissions for the Clare constituency saw a significant number focus on the placement of the Ballyglass ED. A large number of submissions referred directly to the position of this ED. Although a small number of these were in favour of the Ballyglass ED returning to the Limerick City constituency, the vast majority were in favour of the Ballyglass ED remaining in the Clare constituency.
There were also submissions that advocated for Clare to become a 5 seat constituency with transfers from Galway East.
However, this would have created a new county boundary breach.
A number of submissions generally supported Limerick City remaining as a four- seat constituency, while there was also a proposal for a five-seat constituency taking in a large part of Clare.
The Commission did consider allocating an additional seat to the Limerick City constituency.
However, this would have involved significant transfers of population.
The Commission recommends the transfer of the Birdhill, Kilcomenty and Newport EDs to the new Tipperary North constituency, thereby making the Limerick constituencies contiguous with the county boundary.

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