Retention of five TD’s demanded

LAOIS/OFFALY Deputy Brian Stanley has said five Dail seats must be retained in the constituency.

LAOIS/OFFALY Deputy Brian Stanley has said five Dail seats must be retained in the constituency.

While welcoming the publication of the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2011 and the proposed provisions for the holding of by-elections in the Bill, Deputy Stanley said there were serious problems also contained in it.

“We must take serious issue with the proposal to cut the number of TD’s from the current 166 to a figure between 152 and a 160. In the absence of a massive overhaul and strengthening of local government structures, it makes absolutely no sense to reduce the number of TD’s sitting in the Dáil.

“If this is a money-saving proposal we would prefer that the pay of TD’s was reduced rather than the actual number of TD’s. The preliminary census results released show a 20% increase in the population of Laois, double the growth rate of the rest of the State. The five Dáil seats for this constituency clearly need to be kept in place.

“Furthermore, the hands of the Constituency Commission are still tied in that they cannot recommend anything more than three, four, or five seat constituencies. We are calling for proportional representation to be strengthened through the introduction of larger multi-seat constituencies,” commented Deputy Stanley.

He said in face increasing the number of seats per constituency would ensure a much more accurate representation of the public’s voting intentions based on their percentage vote, “in contrast to the current system that favours the largest parties, especially in three-seat and four-seat constituencies.”

Meanwhile he said a new provision in the Bill states that a by-election must be held within six months is long overdue. “This will put a stop to the practice of Governments not holding by-elections because of the fear that they will lose a seat. It is an affront to democracy to leave people unrepresented for months on end in that manner. This provision resulted from the fact a Sinn Féin TD had to take a court challenge in order to for a by-election to be held.”