30th July 2007
I enclose on behalf of the Council for the West a Submission in support of the campaign to re-unify the County of Leitrim for electoral purposes. Hopefully this will be taken into account in your forthcoming deliberations.
Council for the West submission to the
The Council for the West is an independent, non-profit organisation with charitable status established in 1994 to combat the decline in population and services in rural areas of the West of Ireland.
The Council for the West highlights and creates awareness of the major social and economic issues affecting the development of the counties in the region under its remit - that is Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare. This work involves examining and researching the barriers to progress and presenting the findings to Public Representatives, Government Agencies and the media and lobbying for effective solutions.
The Council for the West maintains linkages with the Western Development Commission, the BMW Regional Assembly, Irish Rural Link, and National and Regional Agencies.
The primary objectives of the Council for the West are to promote balanced regional development, to co-operate and link with other organisations involved in regional development and to the promote interests of the Region generally.
Its membership is comprised of voluntary, non-remunerated persons compromising representation from the main churches, businesses and community activists.
Chairman: Sean Hannick (Mayo)
Vice Chairman: Declan O'Callaghan (Roscommon)
Secretary: Michael McGarrigle (Donegal)
Treasurer: Ray O'Donoghue (Galway)
Co-ordinator: Caroline Wilson
Council for the West
Killala Business Park
Phone: 096 32975
Fax: 096 32014
Background to this Submission
The Council for the West is anxious to ensure that the forthcoming Constituency revision does not result in any reduction in Dáil representation in the above counties.
Furthermore, The Council for the West is concerned that the division of the County of Leitrim and the placing of same in two new constituencies, Sligo/North Leitrim and Roscommon/South Leitrim, as a result of the previous recommendations of the Constituency Commission, has resulted in a situation whereby the county has no representation in the new Dail. The Council is concerned that this places the County of Leitrim in an extremely disadvantageous position and believes that a mechanism should be found whereby this electoral splitting of the county should not repeated in the next Constituency Revision.
The Council is concerned that since the foundation of the State there has been a gradual
reduction in the number of T.D.s from the Western Region – see Table 1 and 2 attached. In this context the Council believes it is essential that there be no further erosion in the number of T.D.s for constituencies in the seven counties covered by the Council`s remit. Whilst accepting the constitutional imperative of equality of representation, some degree of cognisance must be taken of the very different demands and work load of rural constituencies as against urban constituencies. T.D.s in rural constituencies such as those covered by the Council`s remit have to cover huge swards of territory. As will be seen from Table 3 attached, many of the counties within the area represented by the Council for the West rank at the top of the list of those which have the least Dail representation per land area. It is essential that in any future boundary revisions, the position of the constituents in Western Counties should not be rendered any more disadvantageous in terms of accessibility to their National Public Representatives, and no further reduction in the number of T.D.s to be returned for these constituencies could be countenanced. .
In this context the position of County Leitrim is of particular concern. The county is now the only one in the State which has no representation in either the Dail or the Seanad. This is unfair and undemocratic. One of the guiding principles of Constituency Revision is that county boundaries should be respected insofar as is practicable. County Leitrim has suffered in a singular way through non-adherence to this fundamental principle.
The Council for the West has two priorities in this submission as follows:-
The Council urges the Commission to ensure that the number of T.D.s allocated to constituencies in Counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Galway, Roscommon and Clare is not reduced in order to maintain the level of political representation for this area in Dail Eireann and to ensure that the region is not prejudiced or disadvantaged by any further decline in the number of T.D.s representing the area. Recent population trends in these counties, as evidenced by the recent Census figures, support the case for the retention of the existing number of seats in the region.
In the context of this objective, the Council supports the campaign by and on behalf of the people of the County of Leitrim to end the electoral division of that county and re-unite it as one electoral unit thus vindicating the natural integrity of the county and giving the people of that county an equitable opportunity to return at least one resident T.D.