TD numbers may be cut by 14

The number of TDs in the Dáil will be cut by between six and 14 under the terms of reference issued to a new constituency commission…

The number of TDs in the Dáil will be cut by between six and 14 under the terms of reference issued to a new constituency commission today by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan.

The commission has been set up following publication of the latest census figures, which show a bigger than expected rise in the population to 4.58 million.

In its election manifesto, Fine Gael had pledged to cut the number of TDs in the Dáil by 20 from the current 166.

Mr Hogan said today that was now impossible to achieve while keeping within the constitutional limits which specified that there had to be one TD for every 30,000 of the population.


He said the terms of reference he had issued were in line with the programme for government and the commitment by Fine Gael to keep within the limits.

“The Electoral Amendment Bill, which I have published today, provides for a change in the terms of reference of the Constituency Commission," he said.

"The commission will be required to recommend Dáil constituencies based on a number of TDs not less than 152 and not more than 160. The precise number will be a matter for the constituency commission to recommend in its report.”

He added that the publication of the preliminary census results had triggered the establishment of the commission to review both Dáil and European Parliament constituencies.

“I will now set in train the establishment process by writing to the Chief Justice requesting the nomination of a judge to chair the commission. The Commission will report within three months of publication of the final census results which are due in April 2012.”

He also said the Electoral Amendment Bill would provide for the introduction of a six-month time limit on the holding of byelections to fill Dáil vacancies.

The Bill also provides for a reduction in the spending limit for a Presidential election from €1.3 million to €750,000 and it provides for a reduction in the amount that can be reimbursed from the exchequer to eligible candidates, from €260,000 to €200,000. These new limits will be in place for this year’s Presidential election.

The preliminary census figures reveal the Dublin North constituency showed the largest population increase between 2006 and 2011 at 16.1 per cent. There are now 28,536 people per TD in the constituency.

Meath East showed an increase of 12.9 per cent and now has 28,844 people per TD while Meath West showed an increase of 11.9 per cent and has 28,494 persons per TD. Only one constituency - Dublin North-Central – showed a fall in population since the 2006 census. It was down 1.2 per cent and now has 24,789 people per TD.

Two constituencies now have more than the maximum prescribed under the Constitution of 30,000 persons per TD, namely Kildare South (30,092) and Laois-Offaly (30,565). There are five constituencies where there are between 29,000 and 30,000 persons per TD and an 11 others where the number of persons per TD are in the range 28,000 to 29,000.