Posted on January 17, 2013 1:54 PM   |   Permanent Link   

The purpose of this Electoral Amendment Bill is to provide for the number of members of Dáil Éireann, for the revision of constituencies, and for the number of members to be elected for such constituencies. The Bill implements the recommendations of the Constituency Commission Report 2012 Dáil and European Parliament Constituencies. The Commission was established under the Electoral Act 1997 to report on the constituencies for the election of members to Dáil Éireann and the European Parliament in light of the results of the 2011 Census of Population.

This means that in line with the Programme for Government, that the number of deputies elected to this House will be reduced. One of the most significant changes of this Bill will be to amalgamate two large constituencies, that of Dublin North Central, and the constituency of Dublin North East, where I have spent most all of my career as an elected representative and Labour Party activist. I am sorry to see Dublin North East go, as I am sure a lot of people in politics, both current and former, are.

Some distinguished Dublin North East Deputies have been Labour Party Deputies. James Larkin was a Labour Deputy in the 1930's and his son, Denis Larkin was elected as a Labour Party Deputy in the 1950's and 60's and Conor Cruise O'Brien was elected for Labour in the 1960's and 70's.

Environmentalist Seán Dublin Bay Rockall Loftus was an Independent Deputy in the early 1980's. The new constituency now bears his name and it is a fitting tribute to him.

I have to say that not everyone is completely enamoured with the new constituency title. I met a Dublin North East constituent recently who said, when I told him that he would soon be in Dublin Bay North, said "does that mean that I could get more for my house if I sold it". I could only reply by saying that it might.

We cannot refer to the demise of Dublin North East without referring to Fianna Fail's Charles J. Haughey who in his time dominated the constituency. When I first came to live in Raheny he was the local political Baron. His election campaigns have been written about before. I at election time remember seeing truckloads of builders going around putting up FF posters, and leaving no room for anyone else to put up theirs. They also erected gigantic FF hoardings at strategic locations. You could not move anywhere in Dublin North East without having CJ sternly gazing down at you. His election campaigning was the stuff of strokes, and Tammany Hall type politics, which involved the spending of vast sums on electioneering, money that we now know was somebody elses. I think everyone knew that at the time, they just could not prove it. Thankfully that type of politics has now been consigned to the past.

I feel that it would only be right to highlight other distinguished Deputies to have been elected to Dublin North East over the years. Pat McCartan, now a Justice of the Circuit Court, was a Deputy for the Workers Party in Dublin North East in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Richard Mulcahy was a Dublin North East Fine Gael deputy in the 1930's.

The only occasions where two Labour deputies were elected to Dublin North East in the same elections occurred in 1992, and again in the last General Election in 2011. I remember both those occasions very well indeed and I want to pay tribute to all of the members of the Dublin North East Labour Party who, over the years, campaigned for all of the Labour Party candidates who were elected to Dáil Éireann, as well as those candidates who chose to stand for election under the Labour Party banner.

It is also worth mentioning that Dublin North East has been abolished once before - in the 1970's Dublin constituencies were completely re-arranged and a lot of Dublin North East was allocated to Dublin-Artane and Dublin Clontarf constituencies. This arrangement existed only for the 1977 general election and was a once off.

I feel though, that this present abolition of Dublin North East may be more permanent.

The new Dáil Constituency of Dublin Bay North, which is an amalgamation of Dublin North East and Dublin North Central, is a much larger 5 seat constituency, spreading from the fringes of inner Dublin City, to Howth Head, and the edges of the more rural parts of North County Dublin. As a large geographic area - it is one of the largest constituencies in the State.

The deputies who will be elected to represent the constituents of Dublin Bay North in the years to come will have a challenge in ensuring they represent them effectively.