Return South Offalians to their ‘rightful place’

SHINRONE’S Councillor Peter Ormond has called for the re-unification of Offaly in terms of voting.

SHINRONE’S Councillor Peter Ormond has called for the re-unification of Offaly in terms of voting.

At Monday’s meeting of Offaly County Council, the Fianna Fail councillor said he had waited four years to put this motion before Offaly County Council.

“Firstly, I would like to welcome the publication of the Electoral Amendment Bill following the publication of the preliminary results of the census. This publication allows for the setting up of the Constituency Commission to review Dail and European Parliament Constituencies,” he said.

Cllr Ormond stated that this is the first opportunity that the people of South Offaly who were moved to the constituency of Tipperary North in the last review to make representations to the commission to reverse that decision.

“Since that decision was announced in October 2007, there has been widespread anger among all constituents regarding the lack of consultation and also that it was the first time that it crossed Provincial boundaries. The moving of 4,276 people to the constituency of North Tipperary was something the people of South Offaly had no input into.

“The people in South Offaly are very proud of their links with Offaly and in light of the recent presidential visit, these links are even stronger.” he said.

Cllr Ormond said the constituency of Laois/Offaly has seen a substantial increase in the number of people living in the constituency and the figure of 152,000 currently exceeds the constitutional limit of 30,000 per TD. “Therefore there will be changes in the existing Laois/Offaly constituency as we know it,” he said.

“In the terms of reference, it states that “the breaching of boundaries shall be avoided as far as practicle. I am hoping that when this commission is set up in the coming months, that all interested parties will come together and make viable recommendations to the commission. Given the importance of this issue, I call on Offaly Council to support my motion that will see the people of South Offaly return to their righful place,” he said.

The commission will report within three months of publication of the final census results which are due in April 2012.

In supporting the motion, Cllr Tommy McKeigue said it was very wrong to “curtail one county with another county” and said the people of South Offaly were all represented by Offaly County Council councillors. Yet if they needed Oireachtas representation they had to look to North Tipperary. He said local areas such as Mount Bolus were cut into two halves. He said it resulted in some people not voting at all as they wouldn’t vote for a North Tipperary candidate.

Cllr John Carroll said there was a very low level of political thought put into this and the whole thing was “very unsatisfactory.”

“The sooner they get back into Offaly, the better,” said Cllr Percy Clendennen.

County Manager Pat Gallagher said he was not aware if submissions could be made yet but when the time came they would prepare a submission for councillor’s approval based on the points that had been highlighted.