01 Oct 2022

Laois electoral map should not be carved up

Laois electoral map should not be carved up

If a week is a long time in politics, then five or six years is surely an eternity. The return of the Laois - Offaly constituency, after its apparent demise, also bears testament to the notion that in politics all things are possible.

Well sometimes possible, because the end does not always justify the means.

Anyone who sat through the cut and dried (and short) count in 2016 for the three seater Laois constituency would probably yearn for the heady days of the Laois-Offaly interminable counts.

Well up to a point, anyway.

But in this instance it is not even the old Laois-Offaly consituency we are getting back, not with the large scale exclusion of Portarlington from the mix.

Port has been part of this constituency since the foundation of the State.

It is ingrained, in every sense, into the Laois and Offaly political matrix.

Now, with the literal stroke of a pen, or the push of a keyboard button, it is to find itself transferred to Kildare South, part of a vast constituency landscape .

The proposed changes will see more than 9,450 people from Laois and 2,404 from Offaly represented by Kildare politicians.

People in Portarlington, Killenard and Ballybrittas are at the mercy of a numbers game, in order to satisfy the criteria for population numbers in ratio to TDs, and to seemingly correct an imbalance in Offaly regarding this.

It's a hugely significant move, and you don't need to be a political pundit to realise the ramifications it may have.

It has been proposed without any reference to the wishes of the people it directly affects, those in Port, Killenard and Ballybrittas.

It makes no sense from a Laois point of view. Laois and Offaly lose a TD, while Kildare South gains one.

And on a bad day, Laois may even lose one of its TDs, thereby reducing our Dail representation to two seats.

And this is well within the realms of possibility.

The question begs itself, Can constituences and voters be treated like this - almost like pawns on a chessboard.

And whither Portarlington in all this.

It will most likely find itself lost in the political tundra of Kildare South, vying to get some recognition in a huge political arena.

The Laois constituency is not Poland or the Sudetenland prior to World War 2. Carving up these electoral areas is shoddy and unjust.

Portarlington, Killenard and Ballybrittas need to stay in Laois.

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