I wonder why the Minister decided to fix the number of Deputies at 144? I know that is the maximum on the basis of the 1956 Census but, having regard to the fact that the Taoiseach recently in reply to a question, intimated that the estimated population at the latest date available is, subject to correction, 2,830,000 would it not be wise to reduce the figure of 144 by at least two seats? My view is that even 142 Deputies are far too many.
Business of the Dáil. - Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1961— Committee Stage.
Take a seat off each Limerick constituency.
I should not like to see the Deputy out of the House.
The figures operative in this Bill are those of the 1956 Census. When the 1959 Bill was going through this House, various Parties suggested that the number should be the maximum and one of the most consistent arguments advanced was that, in order to get material for a Government, it was desirable to have the maximum number possible. When one considers that Government has to be drawn out of approximately half the number in the Dáil, it would be unduly restricted in choice of personnel if numbers were reduced below the permissible maximum. Because we are so closely tied to these figures now as a result of the decision of the High Court we would, if we were to reduce the numbers still further, restrict rural representation particularly in the more difficult constituencies which fall to the lot of some Deputies. We propose, therefore, to adopt the maximum number permissible.
Would the Minister not agree, in preserving the ratio between Government and the Deputies behind it, that increasing the number of Ministries does not ease the problem to which the Minister has referred? If it was possible to operate Government for so long with fewer Ministers, surely the Minister can see the problem now in relation to the number of Deputies in the House?
The Deputy should have thought of that when his Government were in office.
At that time, there were fewer Ministries than there are now.
There was a new one created at that time.
And when it was created, it was not opposed by the Minister. Since the Minister came into office, that new Ministry is included in the Government and another Ministry has been added.
We combined the Ministries of Health and Social Welfare into one Department where you had two.
I move amendment No. 1:
In subsection (2), to insert before paragraph (d) the following new paragraph:
(d) (i) Where a constituency consists of parts of two counties, the returning officer may appoint the county registrar for the second county (and shall appoint him if he so requires) to be assistant returning officer for the part of the constituency in that county.
(ii) In the foregoing subparagraph "the second county" refers to such one of the relevant two counties as is not that for which the returning officer is the county registrar.
In subsection (2) of Section 7, it is intended to provide for the appointment of assistant returning officers. On examination of the Bill after it was printed and circulated, it was discovered that one eventuality which does arise under this Bill when it becomes law is that where parts of two counties form a constituency, the various methods whereby the assistant returning officer could be appointed are not included in the section. This amendment was decided on to meet such an eventuality where parts of two counties form a constituency. That is the intention of the section. It was a shortcoming in the section that we did not foresee.
There are two questions I want to raise on this section. First of all, what is the necessity for this section at all? Is there not a permanent law laying down the duties of returning officers and the general mechanics of holding an election or is it necessary to change it every time we have a Redistribution Bill? The second point has to deal with something I came across in a recent by-election in which a presiding officer was appointed as a deputy returning officer. The extremely odd procedure was adopted that the presiding officer came and opened the booth and then left the booth in charge of whatever deputy he had there and returned to the centre of the constituency to function as deputy returning officer. Surely that procedure is not right. A presiding officer ought to be present in the booth to which he is assigned.
He has not power to appoint a deputy.
It might be no harm if the Minister issues a direction to returning officers not to appoint one individual as presiding officer and deputy returning officer.
I entirely agree that this is not a practice that should be continued. I am wondering whether a deputy returning officer would not have been empowered, even on the morning of the election, for whatever cause may have arisen, to appoint a presiding officer in the polling station to which he was assigned.
The Minister will agree that it is not a desirable practice that a man who is appointed in charge of a booth should arrive there with all the ballot boxes and everything else, open the proceedings, then put on his hat, get into his car and leave the booth in question in charge of one who is a minor officer in the electoral machinery. It is undesirable to appoint the same man as deputy returning officer and as presiding officer in a single booth.
I shall look into the matter. If it would be possible to have details of the booth in question, it might be possible to find out how it came about. I agree that it is not a practice that should arise. I shall look into the question of drawing the attention of returning officers to the matter.
I am not able to find the name of the booth. However, I shall be able to give the Minister a group of booths which will include this particular one.
The question has also been raised as to why this section is inserted. It is for the purpose of appointing assistant returning officers and it has been so done in each of the Acts in the past. So far as I am aware, it is necessary that it should be done.
Is there no global principle laid down in the 1923 Act that where a constituency includes an area outside the global areas of the returning officer, he has the authority to appoint a deputy returning officer?
The power in the 1923 Act applies only to the 1923 fixed constituencies. I understand that the Committee on Electoral Law are considering this matter, if they have not already considered it.
We are taking the Schedule entry by entry. I am putting the question on the first entry.
Is there not an amendment that deals with this paragraph?
That amendment does not affect Cork city.
The amendment deals with South East Dublin.
This is the first item in the Schedule and, by this amendment, the Minister has brought in an entirely rural area into the city of Cork and has extracted from the old city borough constituency an area that is virtually as city as it possibly could be. I do not set myself up as an expert on Cork geography, but indeed one would not have to be an expert on Cork geography to know that Rathcooney is a rural area compared with Blackrock and Douglas, which are suburban. They have been in the city constituency and they are absolutely on the border of the administrative county borough. I believe there are at present proposals under consideration in fact to extend the administrative county borough to include the Blackrock area.
When the Minister deliberately, in his framing of Cork city, has extracted Blackrock from the city and put it into an area which stretches right up to Millstreet, he must be prepared for complaints. By this part of the Schedule, he has done the reverse in regard to Rathcooney, a strictly rural area. He has put it into the city. I think the onus is quite clearly on the Minister to justify this arrangement, to justify it in the light of his own alleged belief that certain areas should not merely be next to each other, but, in addition, that they should be, as far as possible, representative of the same type of people. It seems to me that to frame legislation of this sort round a city area so that people, all of whose contacts belong to the city, should be extracted from it and that rural people, who might require the assistance and the help of those experienced in rural affairs are brought in, and who, in any event, would prefer to be with their own rural companions, is a very bad thing and one which will cause deep resentment among the people concerned.
For the record, I should like it to be known that the extension of the borough boundary as indicated by the Deputy is being opposed by the Cork County Council and by a big number of residents in the area affected.
I endorse entirely what Deputy Sweetman has said about the inclusion of these electoral divisions in the Cork borough constituency. As far as my information goes, the total population of these divisions equates fairly approximately the population of the Blackrock area which is taken out of the city constituency. Apart from the extension of the borough boundary altogether, it is a well-known fact that there is no extension whatever in the Rathcooney area of the borough as there has been in the Blackrock area over the past number of years. Blackrock is a residential area for people who have businesses in Cork city and there has been a wonderful development in that housing area. They have all the amenities enjoyed by the city people.
When one goes into Rathcooney, one has left the city and is in a completely rural area the residents of which have nothing in common with the residents of Cork city. In the old days, the electric trams always ran into Blackrock, but on the way to Rathcooney, they always stopped at Dillon's Cross and did not go any further. It puzzles me what the motive behind this was because, as far as I can find in the city of Cork, no reasonable argument can be adduced for the change. It will only cause confusion, resentment and a great deal of expense because of the chopping up of the register. Why not leave things as they were?
It is amazing to hear the question being asked why was this or that not done. I dislike this portion of the Bill in its general outlay just as much as any Deputy. In regard to Cork borough, it is all very well to say that the people of Rathcooney will resent it. I resent it, the Cork Deputies resent it and I feel sure many other Deputies in the House who have no connection with Cork will resent it. However, the fact remains that the Cork borough constituency as we have known it now contains a population of 112,000 on the old boundary lines. Those 112,000 people are much too great to be left as a five-seat constituency and it then follows that changes have to be made.
The change made here is that Blackrock, with a population of 16,700, has been taken out and put into the county. After deducting those 16,700 from the 112,000 the figure remaining was too low for a five-seat constituency and the addition of the population of 25,000 approximately in Rathcooney to the balance of 94,000 odd in the city would remedy that position. This proposal for the new constituency coincides with the terms of the judgement of the High Court in relation to the 1959 Act. That is the real reason and the reason we should not forget, why this was done.
In addition to that, it is quite true that for years past Blackrock has been in the borough constituency. St. Mary's and Bishopstown have also been in it. The addition we are making is Rathcooney and Blackrock is being taken out of the old city constituency. While it may be true the area as a whole is a built-up area, let us not forget that all its interests are not tied to the Cork borough and to the borough only. In fact it does not belong to the Cork borough for administrative purposes but comes under the Cork County Council. We should be fair in this matter and we should realise that this is not what I want to do or what I had done but what I must now do or something similar.
Seemingly the Minister would like to share our resentment in regard to the proposals for rearranging the Cork constituencies. What the Minister did not advert to was that Senator O'Donovan's action had one particular success; it restored the seat which the Minister wanted to take from Cork city and county. Having secured the restoration of the seat why should he embark on the drastic and ridiculous rearrangement which the House is now asked to confirm? The Minister made a point that this part of Cork city which he proposes to have transferred to mid-Cork, the Blackrock area, is in the administrative county area of Cork rural but there are other parts which he has included which are also in the Cork rural administrative area. If the argument he is making in support of the exclusion from the Cork borough of this particular region holds good, it should also hold good for other parts which he intends to include in the Cork borough.
The Minister would imply that he is solely actuated by mathematical considerations and that to a certain extent he is hamstrung by these mathematical considerations but is it more than coincidence that of the five out-going Deputies in Cork borough two are not supporters of the Government, and that both of those Deputies reside in that part of the city that he is transferring from Cork borough constituency to the new mid-Cork constituency? I suppose that consideration never entered into the mind of the Minister when he was drafting the confines of the new constituency.
Of course, people residing within a few hundred yards of Cork City Hall have extremely little in common with the people residing in the villages between Newmarket and Millstreet; they have extremely little in common with the people on the northern side of Mushera or the people resident in the Blackwater valley, who, from here on, unless the Minister accepts the reasonable case that has been made, will find themselves in a constituency where extremely wide variations of normal life exist between the people in those areas. It is entirely contrary to what the Minister advanced on another occasion. By the introduction of a five-member and four-member constituency, in addition to an existing three-member one in the county of Cork, he is creating large constituencies. Is this a conversion to the arguments he heard advanced when this House listened for months to proposals to whittle down constituencies to single-member size?
Is the Minister's creation of the five-member constituency where the Counties Kerry, Limerick and Cork meet, to the mouth of the Blackwater at Youghal, in accordance with the arguments we heard for months that the constituencies which existed were too big? Here we have created a mammoth constituency straddling the whole area. I want to join with Deputy Sweetman and Deputy Manley in referring to the injustice created for the people in this constituency of Cork city who will be compelled to disassociate themselves from the centre where they would naturally expect to be included for the Dáil constituency of Cork City.
I appreciate the fact that some part of the Cork suburban area must go out. It is no use putting up any line of argument that will in itself convey the impression that all the suburbs must stay with the Cork borough area. Where I differ with the Minister is this. He may not know it, but Blackrock had always been with Cork borough, an area with a voting population of approximately 10,000 votes. While it does come under the Cork County Council for local administration it had always been connected with the borough for general election purposes. It is but fair to draw attention to the fact that up to 1947 the western part of the suburbs had always been part of the county for Dáil election purposes. I should like to know why the Bishopstown area should come into the city and the Blackwater-Douglas Road area, which had been with the city all the time, should go out. It is like changing horses in a big race.
I know the Minister did find himself in difficulty when he was faced with including Rathcooney and that he had to bring up his figures. The Minister, however, should not forget there was no need for the alterations he has suggested in relation to the Blackrock area. Some months ago when we were discussing this matter I drew attention to the fact that it was quite sensible to suggest that the western suburbs, the Bishopstown area, would go with South Cork and they could relieve South Cork to go into another constituency, namely West Cork. The Taoiseach intervened to suggest that would mean giving Cork another seat. Of course the answer has been given by the High Court decision, that Cork is entitled to another seat, the seat taken from it in the Bill presented by the Minister. In view of the fact that, by the decision of the High Court, it is accepted that Cork is entitled to the additional seat why go chopping up to such an extent as bringing Rathcooney in? Rathcooney could be left with South Cork, with the inclusion of Bishopstown in South Cork. That would relieve the city of the heavier percentage that obtained there prior to the Bill that was introduced last year when the members of the Cork borough area represented 22,000 per member. Is the Minister prepared to consider this point? Is he prepared to admit, as he must in all fairness, that Bishopstown is more a rural area than the Ballinlough-Blackrock area? I would say against the argument that may be put up relating to the inclusion of Bishopstown and leaving out Blackrock, that while the Blackrock area certainly has claims for inclusion in the suburb, we have all the years back represented that area in the Cork County Council.
The Minister can understand from me that we are not bargaining or putting up a case to suit members. The history of Blackrock in the Cork County Council stands as well as that of any other part of the Cork rural area. We have our friends there. We are not looking for concessions that may help us politically. Nobody can suggest that the people of the Blackrock area are complete strangers to us. They are not. That must not be considered as against the general principle of interfering with an area which history had included in the city for Dáil purposes. It is fantastic to suggest that such a place as Rockborough Avenue, ten or 15 yards from the South Infirmary in the heart of the city should now go into mid-Cork because of this change by the Minister. There is no sensible reason for it. We can continue to serve these people in the county but why drag them into the county and associate them with outside areas for Dáil purposes when there is no need for it? I suggest that the Minister reconsider the position of the Bishopstown area which in the past has been in the county, as against Blackrock, which has not.
I agree with Deputy MacCarthy. In case anybody may make suggestions about the extension of the borough boundary, I would advise these people and the Minister to be very careful because as regards the extension, the Cork County Council and the people in the suburbs, Blackrock as well as Bishopstown, say "No" to it and we as public representatives, equally, say "No".
None of us is happy about this redistribution. The question of residence has been raised, that in the case of two Deputies opposed to the Government, the area in which they reside is now to be put into Mid-Cork. I would have hoped for another division because I live within about a mile of the present city borough and I was hoping that the rearrangement would put me living in my constituency but it has not. So, surely that kind of argument does not hold? The Minister was tied up by the consideration that the figures had to fit in and that he could not divide electoral areas. I sympathise with him in what he had to do and we all feel sorry about it.
One may perhaps wonder why anyone who is not from Cork is so brave as to step into a Cork arena. It is simply for the reason that, as the Taoiseach said when he was leaving the House, one sometimes is not able to see the wood for the trees, if one is in the area.
There is another way by which, on the Minister's showing, he could have dealt with the matter. As I understand his figures, the Blackrock area has a population of 16,705. If he had not taken that population out of Cork city, he would have had to add very much fewer people to it to make a six seat constituency in Cork city within the ambit of the judgment and, although nobody wants to take people out of areas, one must consider where the balance of gain lies. The Minister's only reason, as he says, is that he wants to make a mathematical calculation. To take 16,705 out of one place and to add 2,550 in another is balancing it in entirely the wrong way. It has got to be done. If the Minister is right in saying that he had to consider it from the mathematical angle, the appropriate argument is to concede to the 16,705 that their disturbance would be the greater misfortune.
I do not think the Minister can come here and just say in this case that it is entirely a mathematical question. It is not, because, on his own statement, he had another mathematical arrangement open to him, to make the borough a six seat constituency rather than take away 6,705 people.
I would freely concede to the Minister that if you accept the situation in respect of certain parts of rural Ireland and then you come to a centre piece, so to speak, you have no room for manoeuvre. That is not the case here at all. The case here is that there is ample scope for manoeuvre within the tolerance provided by the court action and it would have been perfectly possible to provide a scheme here by which the suburban area of Blackrock would have been where it rightly belongs for Dáil purposes and where it has always belonged for Dáil purposes, in the county borough of Cork. I accept that it would have meant some disturbance, some discomfort, if you like to use the word, in certain other areas but doing it in that way would have involved far less discomfort and the number of people who would have been affected would have been far fewer.
Therefore, it is quite clear that it was not entirely for the mathematical reason that the Minister dealt with the matter in this way. If there were the mathematical reason, then he should follow his mathematics out to the bitter end and disturb only the smaller number of people. He has not done that. He has disturbed the larger number.
The suggestion put forward by Deputy Sweetman is one that certainly appealed to me personally earlier on but since I am, like Deputy Manley, totally against taking seats from the rural areas and giving the boroughs more representation, even though it is against me personally, I felt, in principle, that we should oppose it. Although the position now hardly pleases fully any representatives from Cork, at the same time, the other solution, that Cork should be a six seat constituency, would considerably strengthen the hands of those who want to enlarge the city boundaries. At the same time, from a national Parliament point of view, it is a bad tendency to give representation to the boroughs at the expense of the rural districts. That is my firm conviction.
I would not differ from Deputy Healy on that at all but I would say that it cannot be argued on the mathematical basis. It may be argued on Deputy Healy's basis.
I suppose on both bases.
It cannot be argued on the mathematical basis.
I should like to be quite clear on the number that has been added to Dublin North Central from the existing Dublin North East constituency. Am I correct in thinking that the population of 12,506 which is part of the Mountjoy Ward has gone in with 14,809 from the whole of the North Dock Ward, making a total of 27,315, in relation to this Schedule as made out, that is from the existing constituencies and not from the 1959 constituencies? Is that not so?
From the 1947 Act.
Yes, and all the Tables that were put in the Library following the question by Deputy Michael O'Higgins, on which the Minister had not got the information, refer to the 1947 Act constituencies and ignore completely the 1959 defunct Act constituencies.
From the 1947 Act. the basis for all these.
Can the Minister explain why, when he was dividing North-Dublin he did it in this way? As I understand it, he has not kept exclusively to ward areas. Would it not have been a better proposition for him to leave as much of the existing constituencies as he could leave and take his tolerance by the additions going out from the city as they have been built up? What he has done in taking away from North-East in one place, and adding to it another place, has had the result of disturbing more people than was necessary. He has transferred 5,574 from Glasnevin to North-East, 2,602 from Glasnevin to North-West and at the same time he has put part of North-East into North Central. He has not got the argument here that he is keeping to ward boundaries. If he were able to make, in relation to this, the same argument as he made in relation to Cork I might not agree with him but I could understand his arguing the point. Here he has taken out certain areas and I do not know by what rule he has done it. If you are not going to keep to ward areas you should disturb from their old customs as few people as possible from the existing constituencies. The Minister seems to have gone out of his way to take more out in order to put more in.
What Deputy Sweetman has said would appear at first glance to be what I would say in similar circumstances except that I know that this most desirable method of approach has not been as readily available to us in the division north of the river as the Deputy seems to think. The only split ward north of the River Liffey within the Dublin city boundary is this Glasnevin ward.
No. I have the Minister's own statement in front of me in which he used the word "part" after Mountjoy. If the whole of Mountjoy is gone why did he use the word "part"?
There are a number of parts.
The Minister said Glasnevin was the only ward split.
The only ward split by this Bill. In 1947 there was a ward split there.
There were many wards split.
Yes, but the only new or additional split north of the river is in relation to Mountjoy.
I agree with the Minister.
The other matter which is relevant in this connection is that we have contained within the city boundary the boundaries of our new constituencies; in other words, north of the river and in the north of the county the city boundary is co-terminus with the constituency boundaries as set out in this Schedule. That was something we hoped we could do and tried to do as far as possible. There was something else we had to do—to contain the constituencies north of the River Liffey within the city boundary and at the same time add a new seat to that area. In doing all that, I do not think we have in any way disturbed more of the electorate than was absolutely necessary. We were tied by the desirable aim that the city boundary should, as far as possible, not be reached and that we should not have a constituency on both sides of the River Liffey. We have done that and we have kept to the city boundary. We have added a new seat, and only one ward in addition to those wards split in the 1947 Act has been split in this Bill. If I may say so, it is no mean achievement to have managed all that with so little disturbance.
The Minister has not met the point I have made. I am not arguing about the seat groupings but it seems to me that in his seat groupings as they are, he has taken 27,315 people out of North-East and he has added 5,574 people to North-East. That is all within the confines of the city boundary. Therefore he has unnecessarily disturbed 5,574 people from their customary habits. That is a bad thing. I could understand it if he could not avoid doing that without going outside the city. He could, because it is all within the city confines. Within the city confines, the situation is that he has taken out 27,000 and brought in 5,500. The wards were already split and he has split another one. I do not think it matters so much about the wards as it does about breaching the counties. People like to keep to the same habits and know they are in the same constituency, so far as possible just as people in the smaller areas like to have their polling districts kept the same and not altered unnecessarily.
There is no argument in what the Minister has said which explains why 5,500 were unnecessarily transferred. From the mathematical point of view, it could have been done just as readily and just as easily. By leaving Glasnevin out, by leaving it as it was, in the North Central constituency, and taking 5,500 from Mountjoy which is already split in part, they would have arrived at exactly the same mathematical arrangement. That would have kept within the tolerance and would not have gone outside the city boundaries, and the maximum number of people would still be left in their old area.
I feel the Deputy does not fully appreciate the circumstances in which this had to be done. Under the 1947 Act, there was an extension of the city boundary which brought in a considerable part of the county. That part is now contained within the city boundary. In that way, we have applied the pattern of the old 1947 constituency to that new area. We have added a seat and, in fact, in this case, rather than have any complaints about splitting Mountjoy, in this provision we have brought together the split parts of the Mountjoy area, and all of Mountjoy is now in the North-Central constituency, instead of having two constituencies as was the case under the 1947 Act. I think those features have not been fully appreciated.
I still feel that the effort that has been made to disturb as few as possible has been a fairly good effort and I doubt if it could be very much improved. It is only when one goes to apply the remedy to what people may see as an objectionable feature of the Bill—it is all very well to apply it to an isolated objection—that one understands the various repercussions it would have on the adjoining constituencies. I say again that, taking all these matters into consideration— north of the river and within the city boundary, adding a new seat, the ward boundries, the existing boundries and so on—we have struck a reasonably fair balance. The scheme and the pattern of the new constituency north of the river is, in fact, a very good effort to meet the wishes of the greatest number possible. The objection to it is likely to be less than it would be to practically any other scheme drawn up in the same circumstances.
While I accept what the Minister has said in relation to the rural constituencies, it does not apply at all to the city. I fully understand, and we as a Party fully understand, that it is virtually impossible to consider one constituency in isolation. We dislike this Bill. We think the Bill is grossly unfair to many parts of rural Ireland, but in order to amend it, it would be necessary to replot the whole map of the rural constituencies. It is quite clear that only a Government would have the facilities available to them to do that; it is quite clear that could not be done by any Opposition. Therefore, except in certain isolated cases, we think the Bill is most unfair to the rural areas. We cannot say how we would keep it within this tolerance. Remapping would quite obviously be outside the scope of anyone except the Government.
In a borough area, that situation does not arise. In a borough area where you have street A or street X in constituencies adjacent to each other, it does not matter in the same way. What is essential in a borough area is to disturb it as little as possible. I am not arguing about the allocation of the seats north of the river, four, five and three. I accept the Minister's view that it is better to have them all within the confines of the city boundary, north of the river, but having said that, it would have been quite simple to deal with it on the principle of the disturbance of the least. The North-East and the North-Central constituencies are certainly not drawn up on that basis. On the basis of the figures the Minister himself circulated, 5,500 people were unnecessarily removed: 27,000 have been moved out and 5,500 have been moved back. That is not the principle of the disturbance of the least.
In relation to Dublin North-West, can the Minister tell us by how much has the electorate increased? If he has not got the figures in regard to the electorate, could he tell us by how much the population has increased?
I have them somewhere.
I thought I had them somewhere, too. I am sorry—it has decreased, has it not, rather than increased? Dublin North-West was too big, although, as I understand it, it has got 2,600 votes in part of Glasnevin from Dublin North-Central.
Is it the population or the electorate figures the Deputy wants?
I do not mind. Once I have one, I can identify the others. My understanding of the situation is that it takes an extra 2,602 population from North Central and it has lost 22,874. Has any other bit come into it on the city perimeter side?
Yes. From Finglas West, 4,879; Cabra East, 2,038; and Finglas East, 15,149. Part of Glasnevin, with 2,600, has been added: There is then the reduction of 22,000, leaving the net figure 62,536.
And Finglas East, which was in the constituency of Dublin County is still in the city of Dublin borough?
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 5, to delete the entry relating to Dublin South-East and substitute the following:—
Number of Members
The Pembroke East, Pembroke West and Rathmines East
wards, and the district electoral division of Stillorgan, excluding the townlands comprised in the county constituency of Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown, and the townlands of Drummartin, Dundrum, Mountanville, Mountmerrion or Callary, Mountmerrion South, Roebuck and Trimleston or Owenstown, in the district electoral division of Dundrum, and the townlands of Farranboley, Friarland, Rathmines Great and Rathmines Little, in the district electoral division of Milltown in the former Rural District of Rathdown No. 1, and the portion of the borough of Dun Laoghaire which is comprised in the district electoral division of Blackrock No. 1, and that portion of the Rathfarnham ward not included in the county constituency of Dublin.
I suppose it would be in order to discuss the three amendments in my name? They are more or less consequential, although in fact two of them deal with county constituencies and one with a borough constituency.
These amendments are designed to provide constituencies for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin South-East on a pattern similar to that which was contained in the 1959 Act for these areas. It seems to me that the areas which were proposed in that Act were better than those in the present Bill. They are framed in such a way that in the case of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, it will contain a compact urban area and, in addition, include the adjacent rural areas. In the case of Dublin South-East, it will cover the existing constituency with some minor changes and add to it the adjacent areas which were included in the 1959 Act.
It is a difficult task for a Deputy to frame amendments which will take account of the population figures, in the absence of all the particulars available to the Minister and his Department, but I have endeavoured to frame these amendments making as little change as possible in the existing county boundaries except the one I mentioned—to frame Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown on the basis of the 1959 Act and, similarly, with Dublin South-East. That entailed slight changes in some of the boundaries. I think it is correct to say that, in the main, they were minor changes from the population point of view, but were necessary to comply with the High Court decision concerning population.
I should mention that, like many other Deputies, I have a personal attachment to one particular area which is being transferred from Dún Laoghaire under the proposed changes. I suppose most of us like to retain an attachment to the area in which we live or have lived for most of our lives. On the other hand, I recognise that certain changes were necessary because of the population changes that had taken place. But it so happens that a very radical change was made in this area in 1947; again, as a result of the increase in population, in the present Bill, and to some extent also in the 1959 Act.
At one particular point, this proposal involves a breach of the city boundary. While it is true that the Bill, with the exception of one particular area, does not breach the city boundary, that is only a reasonable development. Under the 1947 Act, the city boundary was breached in a number of areas. In certain cases, in fact, subsequent to that Act, the city boundary was extended into the administrative county of Dublin. I have endeavoured to frame this amendment in such a way as not to disturb the existing areas except between two constituencies which were directly concerned.
In the 1959 Act, any consequential changes were carried out merely on the basis of complying with the requirement that as far as possible the same ratio be kept between Deputies in each constituency. The population ratio, therefore, had to be altered in certain cases. In order to do that, there were consequential boundary changes at certain points, mainly in the Rathfarnham South wards, and other consequential changes in Stillorgan, where some townlands not included in the Dublin South-East constituency under the 1959 Act have been included on this occasion in order to comply with the requirements I have mentioned.
I have considered this amendment and have drawn up the population figures which would result from the suggested division. I also had prepared a map of what the proposed constituencies would look like. Whether the House believes it or not, I have considered these amendments sympathetically, because I believe that, where it is possible to avoid it, there should be no more disturbance of population and sitting Deputies than is absolutely necessary. Despite that approach, I could not find grounds which would justify me in accepting these amendments. The resulting constituencies would be big and awkward in shape. For example, Dublin South-East is proposed to be extended to such a degree that it would stretch from the Pigeon House down to the Grange Golf Club and across to Leopardstown. That is not by any means an improvement on what is proposed in the Bill. In addition, it would create a second breach in the city boundary. We have tried to avoid this and have been successful, except in the case of Ballyfermot. As I say, this would in fact create a second breach in that boundary, which is not desirable if it can ordinarily be avoided. Again, it breaches the borough of Dún Laoghaire and puts part of it in different constituencies which is being avoided in the present proposals. Overall, the final yardstick by which you might measure the amendment against what is proposed is that neither in configuration nor in figures do the proposed amendments improve the pattern as outlined in the Bill. I cannot suggest to the House that these amendments are an improvement. In fact, they are a disimprovement. Therefore, I do not feel we can accept them.
There is one drawback the Minister has mentioned in connection with the proposal outlined in this amendment but it is equally true to say that it also applies to the Bill as drafted. I refer to the proposal regarding the constituency of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. Though mainly urban, it is rather extended compared with other urban constituencies. I agree that, on the proposal as drafted, Dublin South-East would be somewhat extended. Whether it would be possible between now and the Report Stage to draft an amendment which would provide for more compact areas might be considered.
I am not wedded to the actual boundaries laid down in this except in so far as it is an effort to comply with the judgment and to make certain changes which seemed feasible and desirable. It may be that a more suitable amendment might be drafted which would preserve Dún Laoghaire borough as far as possible as a compact entity and at the same time not spread a constituency which, by and large, is mainly urban though adjacent to a rural area. If the Minister would consider an amendment between now and Report Stage I should be happy if possible to frame one to meet that viewpoint.
Various patterns in which the constituencies might be divided were tried and various possibilities and plans were considered. The pattern of the numbers in the constituencies as outlined under these amendments was tried by us to find the best method. Having tried all these patterns the proposal in the Bill has an advantage over all the others. A further reconsideration of the pattern may possibly throw up something acceptable or less objectionable or that might even be an improvement. I doubt if that is possible from our past work on this side of the city but I shall try again if the Deputy and the House so wish me to do.
I am obliged to the Minister.
I have listened carefully to the Minister and accepted his statements until he gave the reasons for the change in North-Central. I refrained from participating in that discussion, believing it better to keep to South-West, the constituency I represent and know so well. It is embarrassing for me to speak on this matter because it can be said that I personally am losing so much. I cannot blame the Minister for that: last year he endeavoured to leave it within the city boundary. I believe the Minister was not actuated by any factor other than mathematics. I am not a good mathematician. In relation to Dublin South-West, we might consider the city limits. I cannot conceive how any adviser to the Minister, assuming he had to lose figures, which we recognise he had to do, could retain Walkinstown in Bluebell and yet delete the portion of Ballyfermot that has always been in the area.
Ballyfermot is a vast area. The wants of the people there are known to their representatives. I could readily understand if the Minister had decided to create a constituency for South County Dublin and another for North County Dublin as we have tried to keep the Liffey in mind for the North and the South.
I take it mathematical considerations governed the delineation of these constituences but, in relation to this constituency, the situation is somewhat illogical. Apart from the south-eastern variation, at the other end of the constituency an area greater than that which obtained even in 1918 has been taken in. In 1918 Rathmines Road was the dividing line. Again, an area in the south west has been brought in. I believe that the one thing we ought to do is to reduce the area. Oddly enough, the Minister has taken one jump easterly and another jump westerly. No submission made by the Minister so far satisfies me that the south-west constituency has been dealt with either intelligently or mathematically from the point of view of the people and apart altogether from any question of consideration for Deputies.
I have no personal axe to grind because I shall now be fighting for myself in an area in which I fought for others in 1918. I am not motivated in my argument because of the loss of Ballyfermot. I appeal to him to remove the dogs' legs and the pockets and not bypass such a densely populated area as Cherryfield and Kimmage West. The proposed new area needs revision. In the 1959 Act the clear intention was not to bring about a divorce in boundaries. Under this Bill Ballyfermot is brought into the country. Anybody who walks from Emmet Bridge to Charlemont Street Bridge and then three-quarters of a mile in a southerly direction must appreciate that there is something lopsided in this new arrangement. If one visualises an isosceles triangle, and one extends the two long sides of that triangle and contracts the shorter side, one has a picture immediately of the proposed new area.
For a time I was at somewhat of a loss to appreciate what the Deputy was really getting at, but it seems to me now that, having listened to the Deputy and others who have spoken here this morning, the advantages of the defunct 1959 Act are now being compared with the disadvantages in the present Bill. Deputy Carroll spoke of the loss of Ballyfermot to Dublin south-west. In all elections up to the present Ballyfermot belonged to County Dublin. Had the 1959 Act continued in operation Ballyfermot would have been in the Dublin south-west constituency. It was never part of that constituency in the past and it is, therefore, not lost to that constituency now. The part now being added to the constituency is approximately one-third of Ballyfermot. Rather than suffering a loss of all Ballyfermot to the county, as has been suggested, the south-west constituency is actually gaining one-third of Ballyfermot.
In relation to the south-east constituency, we have merely moved further eastwards. The boundary is now the ward boundary. We have brought in the full Rathmines West Ward into the south-west constituency. In doing so we have departed from the 1947 boundary, but only to a fractional degree and only for the purpose of bringing in the entire ward. These changes were made, among other reasons, because of a fixed pattern of configuration in relation to both city and country. The constituencies are confined within certain ratios of population to seats, not departing very far upwards or downwards from the average.
As well as that, we have kept the dividing line of the Liffey. It is a clear line of demarcation. If there were constituencies crossing the river they would not be anything like as clearly defined because houses and streets in built-up areas look very much alike. In the country where you have the various landmarks there are no such difficulties. If we have to make accommodation lines across the river, as far as the city is concerned we are not being inconsistent by not doing that in the county.
Getting back to Deputy Carroll's argument in regard to this matter I say to Deputy Carroll and to the House that the objections with regard to any constituency which has been changed are far too easy to enumerate, but the remedy is a different matter altogether. We worked on this for a considerable time to get the pattern of the South City and the pattern we have now produced is one which, in my estimation, is the best that we can make within the considerations of population and other factors. Anything else we could do would only create far greater and much more stringent objections in many cases. I say that knowing the difficulties we had in drafting the pattern we now have and knowing the number of times we tried various other patterns.
The others we found were worse and more objectionable and even I, who am not a resident of Dublin, could see far more objections to the other patterns we considered. These patterns might remove Deputy Carroll's objection, but would create many more objectionable ones. It is difficult and, indeed, impossible to satisfy everyone in this matter. I am not saying that objections do not count. I agree that there are and will be objections. There are objectionable factors to various Deputies and to various areas of population, but we must have regard to the confines within which this matter had to be done. I like it no more than any one of you in this House.
Is the Minister aware that the municipal constituency, the No. 9 constituency, comes across the river? Why is that if he considers that the proper demarcation line should be the river?
That does not arise in this case.
It did not arise in the other case either. The people of Ballyfermot are down-town Dubliners. They are from the poor areas of the centre of the city and they have no interest in rural matters. The city Deputy could always represent them better than the rural Deputy. You are shoving down-town Dubliners into the cattle and sheep areas.
What we are doing is bringing into the city for the first time about one-third of the population of Ballyfermot who up to this have been in the county.
This area did not exist before.
It did not grow overnight and the Deputy well knows it. All of those people and those houses did not arise since the last election. The Deputy will agree that all the houses in Ballyfermot were not built since the last election. It is not correct to say that the county Deputies cannot properly represent them. I have brought back one-third of the population into the city so that the city Deputies can look after them. If it were possible and feasible, having regard to the question of numbers, all of Ballyfermot would have been brought in. The Deputies for the County of Dublin, while they have been representing rural Dublin, would not, I am sure, lose themselves in the city.
They live 10 miles away.
One of the difficulties in relation to each part of the Schedule is that it is difficult to discuss each one alone. First of all, in relation to the green fields of Ballyfermot, I think they were taken into the city boundary since 1947.
When they were in the old county constituency at that time they were in the administrative county and it is since then that they have been brought in.
That is so.
The position outlined by Deputy Carroll in relation to one part of a city constituency taking in a city erea as far as the Half Way House, then going out into the county, and coming back into the city again is quite true. Can the Minister tell me what is the population which is in that part of Ballyfermot in the county borough of Dublin that is now being brought into Dublin South-West? What is left outside after that part of Ballyfermot is brought into the South-West and for which the Minister says the figure is 8,358?
Approximately 21,000. The actual figure is 21,006.
Can the Minister also tell me, because it does affect greatly one's consideration of the matter between now and the Report Stage, what will be the population in that part of the new constituency of County Dublin that would be south of the Liffey? It does seem absurd that, with a five-member constituency, and suppose that we have two, two and one, a Deputy in the North end of the constituency or in the real South end of it would have to represent people who are very far away. It does seem to me to be an entirely illogical method of representation.
What about you and me in our constituencies?
We have something entirely different. We have a pattern of life in the rural areas that may be more difficult to represent. Let me put it on record here that I regard the task of a Deputy representing a rural constituency as at least five times more difficult that that of a Deputy representing an urban constituency.
Deputy Corry was one of the people who was most vocal about laying down those rules 23 years ago when going around the country and coming into this House talking about bringing in legislation and about getting it enacted. He should have known what he was doing. As usual, he was talking entirely through his hat and did not know what he was asking the people to enact. In view of what he said in those days, he should be coming in here now in sackcloth and ashes, excusing himself and asking the people to forgive him. It was because of his mistake then that all this has arisen.
I would not have the slightest hesitation in the morning in going down to Kildare, with the full knowledge that I could stand for election in Kildare and run the Deputy out of it.
There is one very considerable difference—if the Deputy came up to Kildare, he would be gaining money for coming in here, whereas I am losing it.
When the Minister changed the county boundaries at all, he should have gone further out into the country and brought in many more country Deputies to represent portions of the Dublin constituencies. I think it would be a very good thing to have country Deputies representing Dublin, even though they might come from as far away as Mayo and West Cork. We are elected here to represent the people of Ireland and I think it would broaden the outlook of public representatives if city Deputies were given the opportunity to represent rural constituencies and vice versa. Figures show that this year as few as ten people lived on hundred-acre areas in the country, whereas in Dublin there are over 4,000 to the hundred acres. I believe I would represent the people of Ballyfermot just as well as Deputy Sherwin does.
I have given up my work to come here. Would the Deputy give up his?
My constituency will now be over 100 miles square. I would much prefer if the Minister made it smaller and gave me a few streets in the city of Dublin.
Can the Minister give me the figure I asked for?
Is the Deputy talking about the southern half of the County Dublin constituency?
The Minister has already given me the city portion of the southern half of County Dublin. What I want is the rest. Has the Minister got it?
At a later stage, we shall be discussing the new County Dublin area and we can refer to those figures then.
What is the figure for the number of people in the Kilmainham ward, now in the Dublin South-Central constituency, who voted with Ballyfermot in the 1957 election?
Was that not the figure of 21,000 the Minister gave me earlier?
Can the Minister give me the figure of the number of people taken away from Ballyfermot as compared with the number who voted in that constituency in the 1957 election —the number of people in the Kilmainham ward?
I am afraid we are talking about two different things. It may be the Deputy is talking about an area greater than what I refer to as the Ballyfermot ward.
I am talking about the part of Kilmainham ward which Dubliners regard as being in Ballyfermot. Could we have the figure for the portion of the Kilmainham ward which was taken out of the Dublin South-West constituency?
As far as the documents and the maps on which I have to work are concerned, there is a Ballyfermot ward and there is Kilmainham and there is a Kilmainham-cum-Bally-fermot ward. Here we are dealing with Ballyfermot ward and we have not in any way been leaving part of it outside the city. On the other hand, we are not taking away from the city, in doing that, anything that was in it in the 1957 election in so far as the Ballyfermot ward is concerned. I cannot understand what is meant by Kilmainham as part of the Ballyfermot ward and Ballyfermot as part of Kilmainham. As I have said, I have not taken anything from the city which was in it in the 1957 election. There is a misunderstanding somewhere.
The confusion probably arises from the fact that portion of the Ballyfermot postal area is in the Kilmainham ward—Dublin 10.
Is it not a fact that 18,000 people in Kilmainham who did vote in Dublin South-West will now vote in Dublin South-Central?
The Minister has correctly pointed out that in the 1957 election two-thirds of what is known as Ballyfermot was actually part of the county for voting purposes and approximately one-third of what we in the South-West area describe as Lower Ballyfermot, as distinct from Upper Ballyfermot, voted in South-West. The suggestion made seems to imply that because Lower Ballyfermot with Inchicore and Chapelizod, the Kilmainham ward practically, have been taken away from South-West, they are in the county. They are not; they are in South-Central, so that they are still under the supervision, if you like, of city Deputies.
The problem is this. We had to surrender something like 13,000 to 18,000 of a population—I do not know the exact figure—and most of these were taken into South-Central. Some of that area and portion of the Rathfarnham area was given to South-East, which is also a city area. It does not matter to the citizens what particular area they are in, if they are city people and vote for city candidates. There should not be a subsconscious approach to this amending legislation on the basis of how it will affect me as a candidate, but of how it will comply with the decision of the court and best serve the citizens when they face a general election. None of us knows exactly how the change in the population—the reduction, if you like, in the population—of the South-West constituency will affect a particular candidate or how it will affect the return in the overall response for particular Parties. When the election takes place, we will find out. None of us can say who will benefit or lose.
It is true that where additional seats are created, there will be a better chance for sitting candidates. Others who nearly made it will have a better chance in the next election. I cannot understand all the worry and consideration that has been given to it. If we in South-West have lost a certain population, it means we have also lost a certain number of voters. If the voters, as I assess it, will be fewer in South-West by approximately 5,000, then, in my opinion, the quota will be down by about 1,000. Therefore, the candidates will not have any great problem, unless a particular candidate got his votes exclusively in one pocket and not from the overall constituency.
I have not studied the map very carefully. I shall wait until the matter is through the Dáil and is accepted as being the new basis on which the elections will be held, but I am not at all worried about these small items. I believe the city people of the Ballyfermot area who previously voted in South-West will now be voting in South-Central. Other areas taken from South-West will either be voting in South-Central or possibly in South-East and I do not think there is any great problem.
The point is that Ballyfermot is an area which has grown up and whether the people in it previously voted in County Dublin or not is not the point. They are all people who have gone out from the centre of the city and Ballyfermot is now exclusively a city area. It is, for municipal purposes, in the Dublin Corporation area and it has its representatives who look after them for municipal purposes and they would like to look after them for Dáil purposes as well.
They are not all city people.
As the people are from Dublin, they, and not the land on which they live, should be regarded as comprising the area. They are people from such areas as Gardiner Street and now you might as well say they are out in the bogs.
As I suspected, there has been a misunderstanding. What is the official ward boundary of Ballyfermot is not what has been locally known as Ballyfermot over the years. Kilmainham and Inchicore have been mentioned. So far as my determinations are concerned, no part of them belongs to Ballyfermot. There is the Kilmainham ward which was in South-West and is now in South-Central. The figures for Kilmainham are 18,189, who have gone into South-Central. West of that Kilmainham ward and west South-West is the area of Ballyfermot which we have had to look on as the ward of Ballyfermot. That ward has been split, 21,000 going to county Dublin and 8,000 odd to the South-West constituency of Dublin city.
People may wonder how we came to get the dividing line for that and the answer is that it is the railway embankment to the north of that, and, within the remainder of the boundary of Ballyfermot is the Ballyfermot ward which in fact is in County Dublin. I knew there must be a misunderstanding and the misunderstanding was that I am talking on the basis of the officially designated boundary but I think the people dealing locally with this area, who may live there or have represented it, have another idea as to what Ballyfermot was or is, as distinct from the official delineation of boundaries. That is where we appear to differ but really we do not differ.
Is it not rather peculiar that the exact figure of population the Minister has left in the county constituency is 21,000? Is that not the tolerance figure per seat?
And is it not therefore illogical that the Minister has done it that way when the answer is there practically ready to hand? If 21,000 is the exact number for one seat, add up all the city people in the one constituency and all the county—and I am talking about county in the administrative sense—by having one with six seats and the other with four seats and then they would be exactly coterminous.
I am amazed the Deputy did not catch that on until I said it.
I did not.
I am surprised; it is so obvious. Adjoining this area where 21,000 would appear to be the figure, the first thing was that it was within the county and we were taking 8,000——
For administrative purposes as well, are the two taken into the city?
Let us leave that for the moment.
Under what division do the Department of Agriculture count the cattle and sheep in the green fields?
If I had an idea of what the Deputy wants to get at, I might be able to answer him.
It was I who started that. Originally, this place was largely green fields. For the past 15 years, it has been built up and it it now completely different.
There were a few elections before the Deputy got in.
You have at some stage to make a decision and the right decision now would be to let them stay in Dublin. That is my point.
The Deputy seems to suggest in one breath that everybody in Dublin was brought out of the Liffey then, whereas in another breath he suggests there are too many people from the country who have no interest in the city living in Dublin.
Many of the people living in housing estates are Dublinbred people. They were housed only because——
Deputy Sherwin will resume his seat. The Minister is in possession. Deputy Sherwin should not interrupt every time the spirit moves him.
On a point of order, the people in Ballyfermot were housed because of overcrowding in the centre city. They are city tenants almost exclusively. I just want to make that point.
Getting back to the Bill and what is relevant to it, I was about to say that the 21,000 mentioned here in the first instance is slightly over the national average.
It is within the tolerance as such.
Let us call it what you like. Adjoining it, there are South-West and South-East, practically surrounding it, and on the other side is County Dublin. There are five seats in South-West and five seats in South-Central. There are supposed to be five seats in Dublin County. If we leave the 21,000 in the city, we obviously must add it to either the existing South-Central or South-West areas, which would mean one of two things, both of which are undesirable: the creation of a six-seat area in the city or the shoving across of the whole and knocking everything we have there already—a complete upheaval in the constituencies, a complete departure from the pattern that has been there for some time and to which we have tried to adhere as far as possible in this matter. I agree that we have had to make changes that are not liked, that are resented, that will create confusion, but any change made in the city will create confusion more than is the case in the country. If we were to leave this in, we would have to create a six-seat constituency, a proposal with which, in fact, I would not come to the House.
What about three three's?
If you make it three three's or whatever you like, again, has it not the same upheaving effect I have mentioned of creating new constituencies and a new pattern of constituencies, a new number of constituencies? There would be even fewer satisfied Deputies and voters when it came to this further upheaval. Do not forget we are leaving this disputed territory of Ballyfermot in the constituency in which it has grown up. That is the one feature about it. It is not something that was in a city constituency and is being taken out. It is something that is in the county and that is being left in the county and a small part of it is being taken into the city.
That is a very bad argument when the administrative boundary is being changed. There are other good ones.
Whether I used the good one or the bad one, the Deputy will scarcely agree that it was a good one.
We all know why it was done.
Of course you do.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 6, in the second column of the entry relating to North-East Cork, to delete "Blarney,""Greenfort" and "Whitechurch" in the reference to the former Rural District of Cork, and to insert "Bally-hoolahan,""Boherboy,""Coolclogh,""Kilmeen,""Meens" and "Williamstown" in the reference to the former Rural District of Kanturk.
I want to make it clear that the spirit of the amendment is in true conformity with the Minister's words here today, that is, to cause as little disturbance as possible to the people concerned.
Let me be as brief as Deputy Desmond and let us hope that anybody who rises hereafter will follow our example. I do not think that what is proposed in the amendment is in fact any improvement. I have not seen any effort made to establish a case that what is proposed is a better arrangement than that already in the Bill. I cannot see any merit in it.
Will the Minister consider how undesirable it is to divide wards, as far as the city is concerned? In this amendment, we are asking, in respect of three divisions, to include in the constituency of North-East Cork the greater portion of the Kanturk rural district, which is bounded on one side by the Blackwater River and on the other by the main road leading to Williamstown. The arrangement suggested in the Bill will eventually lead to considerable confusion in relation to the rearrangement of polling booths.
I happen to have very good knowledge of the position there and I find that at present as far as the county council is concerned people have to travel very far distances in three or four different areas to polling stations. As far as the north-western portion of the area is concerned, extending to the Limerick-Kerry border, that is a very narrow strip of territory and if the remaining portion of the Kanturk rural district were included in that angle, it would make the work far easier for representatives and would make it easier for the electorate to get to the polling station. The rearrangement of polling stations will be extremely difficult and I am asking the Minister to accept the amendment.
I am opposing the amendment for sentimental reasons.
Deputy Corry and sentiment go together?
In his old age.
There is not much sentiment as far as Deputy Sweetman is concerned. There is never much sentiment attaching to a lawyer. The area that it is being sought to take over now is portion of the old constituency that sent me into this House first 35 years ago and I have a very definite objection to losing any of it, whereas the area Deputy McAuliffe suggested should be handed over to us is an area which I have not represented before and surely you would not send an old lad like me out there now?
I will introduce Deputy Corry any time he likes.
Surely the Deputy would not go poaching there?
I would have a further objection in giving him the first canter over the ground. When you undertake operations and clear up a bit of country, it should not be transferred to someone else. We have had enough of that dodging for the past four or five months. We know where we are now. The constituency is too big for a Deputy to take over an area and then discover that it does not belong to him at all. That upsets calculations altogether. I have examined the map and I cannot find any justification whatever for the proposed change. Another sentimental reason I have is in relation to my dearly-beloved friend, Deputy O'Sullivan. I would not like to see that poor man completely estranged from his old haunts.
For once I am in agreement with the Deputy.
Where will you put Pope O'Mahony now?
When I heard there were to be amendments to this Bill, I expected these amendments would not interfere with the old boundaries of Cork. We visualised that South-Cork as we knew it would be one entity and North-Cork another. I did not expect this frivolous amendment, and I can call it nothing else, by which four townlands are taken from one constituency and transferred to another in order to benefit the two Labour men concerned. I have travelled sufficient ground and I do not want to have any more travelling inflicted on me.
It is obvious the Minister has no cogent reasons for refusing to accept the amendment. The ignorance of Deputy Corry in this connection far exceeds anything displayed by him here before. We know Deputy Corry has already been up around Mallow and Millstreet where he has two loyal colleagues although he suggests it would be unfair to extend his travels. He has also been around Blarney.
The purpose of this amendment is to give the people their rights and not to consider the convenience of Deputies, even of Deputy Corry. He was surprised at the spirit of this amendment. He expected something else but he did not get his way. All we seek is justice for the people. If the Minister refuses to recognise the rights of the people, it is our duty to expose to the House the frivolous expressions of Deputy Corry and the reticence of the Minister in refusing to justify his opposition to the amendment.
The combined population of the three electoral divisions of Blarney, Greenfort and Whitechurch, each within seven to ten miles of Cork city, is 3,376, according to the 1956 census. On the other hand, the combined population of the other six electoral areas in the north-west—Ballyhoolahan, Boherboy, Coolclogh, Kilmeen, Meens and Williamstown—is 3,388. Therefore, if the 1956 census is not questioned now by the Minister, the difference in population is 12.
Deputy Corry knows that for local authority purposes the electoral areas of Blarney, Whitechurch and Greenfort are and always have been under the South Cork Board of Health and Board of Assistance. The activities of the members on those boards affect the everyday lives of the people in those areas. Deputy Corry happens to be just one who finds himself very closely situated to Blarney, Whitechurch and Greenfort and, of course, the other areas are out of his reach, or almost; he would reach them, I know. He has no right, any more than I have, to demand that because it suits him, a certain electoral area should be his for representation.
He knows his colleague, Deputy MacCarthy, has as much support in these electoral areas as I have. He knows that Deputy Manley, a member of the Fine Gael Party, has as much support in these electoral areas as a Labour man. Nobody can say the amendment is based on any presupposed advantage given to any member who may be a candidate. It is based on the fact that the members in mid-Cork area who may be elected and who may live in a southern area cannot serve Blarney, Whitechurch or Greenfort. He may get, and it is his duty to consider, complaints from people who are now included in the north-west area, according to the Bill as presented by the Minister.
If Deputy MacCarthy or I get complaints from people in the north-west about cottage repairs, the condition of roads, lack of water supplies, and so on, we cannot make personal representation. We must write to the North Cork Board of Health in Mallow asking them to consider representations on behalf of people who are far removed from us for local authority purposes. The same situation applies to Deputy Corry. There are many parts of the North-East constituency of which he cannot claim to be a direct representative on the local authority in respect of housing and sanitary services for these people. Apparently he is not concerned with them.
Again, any figure or any basis can be worked out to substantiate this amendment. According to this huge memorandum submitted to us this morning—after all, we got it only at 10.30 a.m.—the average population, per district electoral area, or ward, in mid-Cork as it stands at present, is 820 and the average in North-East Cork is 810. Our proposal, as I said already, means a variation in population of 12—only 12—in favour of North-East Cork because of the fact that North-East Cork has, per member, an average population of 80 less than mid-Cork. Surely no Minister and no person—except perhaps Deputy Corry— would attempt to refute the principle involved: equal distribution and fair play for the people concerned?
This memorandum also states that the number of electoral divisions or wards—naturally we are not interested in wards; in the rural areas they are electoral divisions—in the proposed mid-Cork area is 99, and in North-East Cork it is 122. What does the change there mean? The addition to mid-Cork of three electoral areas or divisions and the substitution for them of six others means that, per member, in the mid-Cork area, the number would be 24, and, in the North-East area, 25 electoral divisions.
These are the figures. The Minister has stated here already, and on different occasions, that he does not wish to disturb any pocket of the population to such an extent that their interests will be affected. The interests of the people in the six electoral areas in north-west Cork are concerned in this amendment. Their interests are connected solely in local authority work, with the activities of the members in the North Cork area. The interests of the people in the Blarney, Whitechurch and Greenfort areas are tied with the activities of the members of the South Cork Board of Health area because of the fact that they are component parts of the county council areas for those purposes.
Therefore, if this amendment is opposed by the Minister, there is, in my opinion, no solid concrete ground on which he can base his opposition. I am sorry to say that if the Minister is determined to oppose the amendment, it is certainly not because he is thinking of the interests of the people in the areas concerned.
I do not know what Deputy Desmond is aiming at. He mentioned the South Cork Board of Health, housing and sanitary services. I have been chairman of the South Cork Board of Health for the past 15 or 16 years, and I had the honour of proposing and carrying through the first non-municipal scheme of housing in Bantry. I cannot see why Deputy Desmond wants now to add to our organisation by having it attached to south Cork or removing it into the constituency of North-East Cork. Does he want the representatives from the South Cork area to go to the North Cork Board of Health area to look after them? Is that what he wants?
The Deputy is doing two-thirds of it already in the existing situation.
I have enough to do already. We handed over that area and kept clear of it.
So you handed over that area and kept clear of it. That is interesting.
I had the honour of representing the Bantry area here, over a very long period, before I represented my own constituency which at one time went to Kinsale, and I had the honour to be elected at the head of the poll there, too——
——which shows how fond they were of me.
Deputy Moher was not there then.
The arguments put forward by Deputy Desmond are completely cockeyed. The South Cork Board of Health area he mentioned stretches from Youghal to Macroom. Macroom was in the South Cork Board of Health Area and is now transferred to the tender mercies of the west Cork people.
It was your Minister who did it.
Unfortunately, this matter was tried in the courts and this is the result. This is the medicine that is being meted out. If you have the population, it should not matter where the slice is put, but evidently it matters a lot to some people. So far as I am concerned, I am not worried. There is no portion of that constituency, with the exception of the area Deputy Desmond and Deputy McAuliffe wish to will to me now, that I have not represented.
You did not. You never represented Kanturk or Newmarket in your life. Be truthful about it.
I do not want to now, either. I have enough and I do not want any more.
We will make sure to publicise that.
I would far prefer if the whole of the South Cork area remained together. It would have suited the people and it would have suited everyone far better than this change, but since there is evidently no objection by Deputy Desmond and Deputy McAuliffe, except this objection, I certainly think this amendment is frivolous, on the face of it. Deputy Desmond did not refer to the fact that in the area I represent the county council is portion of the south Cork area, for housing and sanitary schemes. I am the chairman of the South Cork Board of Health and he is the vice-chairman.
I shall answer the Deputy.
For Deputy Desmond's information, on one occasion I had the honour to represent the Cork rural district he is talking about. I was elected at the head of the poll as the representative of the local authority there. I am welcomed home by all the boys there. The amendment is completely frivolous.
Deputy Desmond opened the discussion on this amendment by saying practically nothing and I said very little more because I expected there would be more to come. I had hoped that in the contributions by the Deputies whose names are to the amendment we would have had the case outlined for changing the present proposals. Instead, I am being asked to justify what is in the Bill. Surely it is for the proposers of the amendment to justify the change? No such justification has been forthcoming. In fact, I do not think you would get agreement between any six Corkmen on one course or the other. It is obvious there will be objections, no matter what you do.
The point has been made—I think it is a weak one, though perhaps it may not have been fully dealt with—that a rearrangement of polling districts and polling stations would be very difficult. I believe a polling scheme should be made to facilitate the people rather than that the people should be made facilitate it. The polling stations are not fixed entities. They can be changed and should be changed to suit the convenience of the people. Under the present system, the people would appear to have come a long distance. It is obvious, then, that the polling stations should be placed so as to convenience the people. There need be no difficulty about that.
Deputy Desmond also made the point that it was proposed to take 3,376 people out of one constituency and put 3,388 in. It was pointed out that there was a difference of only 12 and that was a good reason why it should be done, but more than that is necessary to convince me that the change is desirable. I should like to know what advantage it confers or what objectionable feature it removes, as compared with the proposed scheme.
I am being challenged to justify what is in the Bill by the proposers of the amendment. I say it is for them to put the case for the proposed changes and to prove that case. So far, no proof has been put before the House.
We have listened to the sentimental reasons advanced by Deputy Corry for his objection to the amendment. He said he spoke with some authority as chairman of the Southern Committee of Cork County Council. I want to point out that he was unanimously elected for the good reason that we felt we would never get any business done if Deputy Corry were anywhere else except in the chair. It was one matter on which there was complete unanimity.
Some day I might be elected Ceann Comhairle for the same reason.
We have stood a lot, but I wonder whether we could stand that. I am not in agreement with the amendment. It refers to the position of the old North Cork constituency, now incorporated as part of the four-seat Mid-Cork constituency. Any further whittling down of the population of that area would reduce the possibility of adequate representation in the new area. The more that area is reduced, the lesser chance it has of becoming an integrated part of the new Mid-Cork constituency.
The areas proposed to be transferred to North-East Cork will be adequately served in the new constituency. I do not think Deputy Desmond need have any qualms about the services that will be afforded to people in those districts in relation to local authority matters. We have members elected for various electoral areas straddling constituencies. They are obliged to look after local authority matters quite distinct from their parliamentary duties. Deputy McAuliffe is resident in the area. He knows everybody and he will continue to serve that region in his capacity as a member of Cork County Council and the Northern Committee.
I want to say to Deputy Desmond that for many years I was a member of this House and not a member of a local authority. I had to rely on the methods Deputies have to rely on when they are not members of a local authority and have not contact with the officials in the local authority offices. I must say I met with nothing but courtesy and I was completely satisfied. Now I represent an electoral area in the county council other than my own electoral area, but in my frequent contacts with the county council office in Mallow I am satisfied I receive as much attention in that office as I do in the Cork Courthouse in relation to matters concerning my own electoral area.
Here, however, we are not dealing with local authority areas but with Dáil constituencies. In my opinion, the greatest anomaly of the entire rehash of Cork County was the exclusion of the Mid-Cork capital from the constituency. Deputy Desmond referred to this on the Second Stage, but I had not an opportunity of doing so. The capital of Mid-Cork was transferred from that constituency into South-West Cork. That was a ridiculous thing to do. It leaves the rural areas around the town of Macroom in the Mid-Cork constituency, while the town itself belongs to an area in the other constituency.
It is a kind of Danzig, sitting between the main Mid-Cork constituency and its northern confines. It represents a very attenuated offshoot of the South-West constituency and it has extremely little contact with the constituency to which it has been transferred. That is a far greater error to have made than to have defined the northern boundaries, as the Minister has in this Bill. It is because I want to preserve representation for that part of North Cork county now incorporated in the new Mid-Cork constituency that I feel we should at least retain the population proposed in the Mid-Cork constituency as it exists in the Bill. For that reason, I am not in agreement with the amendment.
I know Deputy O'Sullivan did not intend to convey that I in any way gave the impression that the staffs of Cork County Council are always anything but courteous to us. I differ from Deputy O'Sullivan on this point. There are three members here—two of the Government Party, Deputies Donegan and Moher, and Deputy McAuliffe. They live in North Cork, as we know it now. I am honest enough to say here publicly that should I be elected for Mid-Cork, I could not hope to give as good a service to the people in these six electoral areas in relation to local authority problems as any of those three members. They are members of the North Cork Board. Deputy O'Sullivan is a member of the South Cork area of the County Council. Try as they may, Deputies Moher, Donegan and McAuliffe could not hope to give as good a service to the people of Whitechurch, Blarney or Greenfort as Deputy MacCarthy, Deputy O'Sullivan or myself. They are not members of the southern area of the Cork County Council while we are.
My sole approach is to give service to the people. It is quite clear that the Minister and I are completely at loggerheads on this matter. I stand by my point of view. However, to expedite business, I suppose the best thing I can do is to ignore Deputy Corry's remarks. I am sorry I was drawn out to the extent of taking any notice of him.
I had expected the Minister to explain the position in relation to the amendment. I am convinced that the system of representation, for local authority purposes, is such that these three members could give far better service to the people in the electoral areas in the north-west as Deputy MacCarthy, Deputy O'Sullivan and myself could give to the people in the Blarney, Whitechurch and Greenfort areas. Because of the population figures; because for all the years back, Blarney, Whitechurch and Greenfort have been part of the south Cork area of the county council and because the six electoral areas in the north-west have ever and always been part of the North Cork Board of Health area, we ask that in order to give better service to the people concerned the amendment be accepted.
I am rather amazed at Deputy Corry's attitude. Surely he is now admitting an air of defeat as far as the forthcoming election is concerned? Within the past few days he told me he would be getting 13,000 votes from North-East Cork. He now objects to all that.
The Minister said he had no argument for the amendment. He also said, in another context, he is not prepared to divide city wards or that he did not like the idea. It will be most expensive to rearrange polling stations. At the moment, in one particular area, the townland of Drumcummer, the polling booth for Drumcummer is Banteer Village. The same applies to North Ballydesmond village. The people from Glounthane and Ballymacelligott will have to travel to Kiskeam or Ballydesmond. Heretofore, they voted in the constituency of North Cork. The same will apply to many booths along the border. The line is pretty well defined between the rural district of Millstreet and the rural district of Kanturk.
I resided in this area for ten years. I have represented it in the Dáil for seven years and previously for a period with Deputy Corry. It is included in the Cork County Council area.
I stated earlier I hoped a different arrangement would be made, that Bishopstown would go into the mid-Cork area which would put my residence in my constituency, which is not the case now. As the Minister said and as shown here, to some extent, it would be hard to get agreement on what is happening.
It might not.
We must put our personal considerations aside. I am sorry about this because I resided there for ten years and have represented it for a big number of years.
- Browne, Noel C.
- Carroll, James.
- Corish, Brendan.
- Desmond, Daniel.
- Finucane, Patrick.
- Kyne, Thomas A.
- McAuliffe, Patrick.
- Murphy, Michael P.
- Spring, Dan.
- Tierney, Patrick.
- Wycherley, Florence.
- Bartley, Gerald.
- Blaney, Neil T.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Boland, Kevin.
- Brady, Philip A.
- Brady, Seán.
- Breen, Dan.
- Brennan, Joseph.
- Brennan, Paudge.
- Breslin, Cormac.
- Briscoe, Robert.
- Browne, Seán.
- Burke, Patrick.
- Calleary, Phelim A.
- Collins, James J.
- Corry, Martin J.
- Cotter, Edward.
- Crowley, Honor M.
- Cunningham, Liam.
- Davern, Mick.
- De Valera, Vivion.
- Doherty, Seán.
- Donegan, Batt.
- Dooley, Patrick.
- Egan, Kieran P.
- Egan, Nicholas.
- Fanning, John.
- Galvin, John.
- Geoghegan, John.
- Gibbons, James.
- Gilbride, Eugene.
- Gogan, Richard P.
- Haughey, Charles.
- Healy, Augustine A.
- Hilliard, Michael.
- Johnston, Henry M.
- Kenneally, William.
- Killilea, Mark.
- Kitt, Michael F.
- Lemass, Noel T.
- Loughman, Frank.
- Lynch, Celia.
- MacCarthy, Seán.
- McEllistrim, Thomas.
- McMenamin, Daniel.
- Maher, Peadar.
- Medlar, Martin.
- Millar, Anthony G.
- Moher, John W.
- Moloney, Daniel J.
- Mooney, Patrick.
- Moran, Michael.
- Mulcahy, Richard.
- Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
- Ó Ceallaigh, Seán.
- O'Malley, Donogh.
- Ormonde, John.
- O'Sullivan, Denis J.
- O'Toole, James.
- Ryan, James.
- Ryan, Mary B.
- Smith, Patrick.
- Sweetman, Gerard.
- Teehan, Patrick.
- Traynor, Oscar.
We are switching to the Agricultural Credit Bill now and it would be better to leave over the Schedule itself until we resume.