Sinn Féin Laois TD pledges to 'defy the odds' in 'butchered' Laois Offaly Kildare election changes

Brian Stanley warns Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that Sinn Féin could end up with three seats in proposed constituency changes

By Conor Ganly

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By Conor Ganly

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Sinn Féin Laois TD pledges to 'defy the odds' in 'butchered' Laois Offaly Kildare election changes

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley with Mary Lou McDonald and Cllr Aidan Mullins.

Sinn Féin's TD for Laois has warned other parties not to write him off following a report which proposes that 9,450 Laois votes move to Kildare and in a realignment of Laois, Offaly and Kildare constituencies in Dáil elections.

Deputy Brian Stanley issued the warning after it emerged from the Constituency Commission that the Laois and Offaly parts of Portarlington and the town's hinterland should become part of Kildare South at the next general election.

Either Laois or Offaly will loose a TD if the changes are agreed to by the Dáil. The counties have three each at present. The sitting Laois Sinn Féin TD attacked the decision as illogical. 

"It defies all logic, unless there is some other reason, to take Portarlington out of Laois or Offaly. It's a crazy decision," he told the Leinster Express.

As for his own prospects and those of his party, he said he had previously represented Offaly as a TD for five years even when he knew they would not be able to vote for him at the 2016 election. He said he had dealt with many issues from Offaly constituents during this time.

He insisted that this did not mean he was conceding the loss of seats in either Laois or Offaly where Carol Nolan won a seat for the party in 2016 against the odds.

"I would be confident that we would put up a good fight," he said.

The TD said that the creation of two three-seat constituencies for 2016 could have been seen as a way to unseat him. He said We defied the odds the last time around.

"They may not take a Sinn Féin TD out in (Laois Offaly) and we may actually take a seat in South Kildare. The last time there was a whispering campaign that there would be no Laois Offaly Sinn Féin TD," he said.

"We prevailed. I have a habit of prevailing against the odds and I wouldn't necessarily see this as being very bad for us at all...I certainly wouldn't have any fears of the proposed changes," he said.

The recommendation from the Constituency Commission would see Kildare's two constituencies having eight TDs while Laois and Offaly would loose a TD and be merged and left with five TDs. The Sinn Féin TD said this would be bad for one of the two.

"It's bad for Laois or Offaly because one county is going to end up with two TDs while Kildare will have eight...They have made a complete dogs dinner of it by taking a chunk out of Offaly and big chunk out of Laois to make up a four seater in South Kildare," he said.

The TD added that whoever is elected in South Kildare will have to deal with three local authorities. 

"The new South Kildare constituency is a hotch-potch of three counties. That is not good practice. They should be aligned with local Government boundaries," he said.

He said two counties have been "butchered" to make an "artificial constituency".

The recommended level for a three seat constituency is 90,000 population and Laois us up at 87,000.

"Laois has the perfect amount for three TDs," he said.

The TD insisted that there was nothing set in stone and the change requires legislation and must go before the Dáil. He said the Dáil has changed which would mean such changes may be more difficult to push through.