Offaly three-seater ‘purely speculative’

Whether the constituency of Laois/Offaly becomes two three seaters or remains as a five seater, south Offaly needs to be brought back into the constituency.

Whether the constituency of Laois/Offaly becomes two three seaters or remains as a five seater, south Offaly needs to be brought back into the constituency.

That’s according to Laois Offaly Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy who said while the findings of the Constituency Boundary Commission are still only hearsay ahead of the publication of its report next month, the most important thing for Offaly is that people in the south of the county are once again represented by a local deputy.

The Commission complied a report which is due to be published next month regarding the redrwaing of constituency boundaries.

According to sources, it is proposed in the report that Offaly be turned into a stand alone consitutency with three seats, breaking historical ties with Laois, which would also become a three seater.

The 2011 census revealed that Laois Offaly had the highest ratio of population to Dail Deputy at 30,565.

The commission is believed to have also recommended the reduction of Dail seats from 166 to 158, a loss of eight seats.

“There were a number of submissions and mine was to bring back in south Offaly. It was a bad outcome when the county was divided in such a a way that public representatives living in Offaly cannot represent the people of south Offaly. There is a dislocation of people down there,” she said.

The Fine Gael Deputy said while there has been an increase in the population of Portlaoise, the commission should look at returning Offaly south to the constituency.

She said while Offaly County Council represents the people of south Offaly, they are not represented by a local deputy.

Meanwhile Offaly Deputy Barry Cowen has dimissed as ‘rumours’ reported the findings of the Constituency Commission, ahead of the publication of its report.

Deputy Cowen said the figures are “speculation more than anything else” and said until the report was published he could not comment on something that was “mainly rumours”.

Meanwhile Deputy Charlie Flanagan agreed with his constituency colleague saying “Ii’s only rumoured. The report is due next month.”

Senator John Whelan said while information at the moment is purely speculative, however, it is certain that Laois-Offaly will not be left intact as it is, because of the population boom it has witnessed in recent years. “It is a sprawling constituency, one of the largest in the country and therefore most people would probably welcome it being divided along county lines into two new 3-seaters from its current 5-seats.

“We will all have to wait and see as the Commission is an independent body and one way or the other I will continue to work as hard as I can on behalf of the people in my community on the issues, policies and problems that concern them,” he said.