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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 10 May 1961

Vol. 189 No. 2

Committee on Finance. - Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1960—Report Stage.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, in the Schedule, to delete the entry relating to Dublin South-East and substitute the following:


Dublin South-East.

The Pembroke East, PembrokeWest Rathfarnham, Rathfarn ham South and Rathmines East Wards, and in the District Electoral Division of Dundrum the townlands of Mount Anville, Mount Merrion or Callary, Mount Merrion South, Roebuck and Trimleston or Owenstown, and in the District Electoral Division of Milltown, the townlands of Rathmines Great and Rathmines Little, and the District Electoral Division of Stillorgan, excluding the townlands comprised in the County Constituency of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown.



I suppose it would be more convenient to discuss the three amendments in my name together. They are Nos. 1, 3 and 4. They are correlative amendments and I suppose it would be appropriate to discuss them together.

The amendments are put down on the basis of the discussion we had here on Committee Stage when I withdrew an amendment in order to reconsider certain suggestions or criticisms which the Minister made. I have redrafted the amendments making certain changes which I believe are an improvement and which endeavour to secure the same arrangement as was proposed under the 1959 Act for the three constituencies concerned, Dublin South-East, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and, with certain modifications, County Dublin.

It seems to me that the arrangements proposed in the 1959 Act were more appropriate for those areas in so far as they secured the retention of reasonably compact areas. While any one of a number of arrangements might be proposed for those areas, there is one distinct advantage in the amendment I have put down, that is, that it makes the county constituencies of Dublin less unwieldy, whereas the arrangement proposed in the Bill as it stands leaves a very lengthy constituency which covers the whole of the county and stretches almost entirely around the city of Dublin. The proposal in these amendments would mean that Dún Laoghaire and the adjacent hinterland would be one constituency and that Dublin South-East would consist largely of the existing constituency with the addition of the adjacent urban areas of Dundrum, Milltown and others.

In recent years, the city boundary has been extended to what was formerly the county area, particularly on the Milltown side of the area, but on the south side, it has extended outside the existing boundary. Therefore, the adjacent areas are likely on some future date to be incorporated into the city. Consequently, I included those areas adjacent to Dublin South-East. While any particular amendment could be decided upon, it does seem to me that this proposal has the advantage that it will shorten the area concerned and, as far as the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency is concerned, these areas have been the scene of considerable building in recent years and there is a very large urban area which, in future, will result in a very substantial growth in population. In a short time, the constituency will once again be substantially above the limit laid down by the regulation.

I think, and believe, that this is a reasonable proposal and that the amendment now put forward, and the two amendments consequential upon it, might be accepted. I hope the Minister will find it possible to approach this matter in the reasonable fashion in which he approached it on Committee Stage and that it will be possible to secure the acceptance of the amendments which conform with the borders laid down for this constituency in the 1959 Act.

As the Deputy has said, on Committee Stage I suggested to him that we would try to find every possible solution to the problem as we saw it and as it was outlined at that stage. Several new divisions have been tried in addition to those already tried out before we came to the House with the Bill. In all of these, including these amendments which the Deputy now has before the House, we find that the pattern of the constituencies and their boundaries are not an improvement and, indeed, are a disimprovement on what we have proposed.

In the case of the constituencies as they would be outlined if the amendment were made, we have the situation of the South-East constituency, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin County which would be changed from those which we discussed in the Bill itself. The result of the amendment would be that the boundaries, and the shape and size of the constituencies, would certainly be unwieldy. Apart from that, we have now, as far as we can ascertain, a ratio in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency which would be, in fact, the highest ratio of any constituency in the entire Bill. It would, in fact, increase the ratio above the national average by approximately 200 and would bring it to approximately 21,155. Apart from that, what is also difficult about this amendment, and I am not saying that there is any alternative to it in the Bill, is the fact that, taking the amendment, we find that the constituency of Dublin South-East will have the same flaw as it had in the earlier proposal on Committee Stage, that of stretching southwards from the Pigeon House to Foxrock and then across to Rathfarnham.

That, again, would not appear to be really objectionable were it not for the fact that, pocketed within these two extremities, we have Dromartin, Milltown and Dundrum, surrounded southwards by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. Those three areas, in that small pocket, actually belong to the Dublin County constituency as now proposed. It gives a most unusual and confusing lay-out to this county constituency and it would also be confusing for the two adjoining constituencies of Dublin South-East and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown in that they are practically isolated from the rest of the Dublin constituency.

The finding of a solution to the problem of these constituencies has been most difficult, difficult in the sense that we have tried, in so far as we possibly could, to maintain, where possible, existing known boundaries. The city boundary and the city perimeter have been breached in one place, and in one place only, from the time we leave Howth until we get to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. That one place is at Ballyfermot, part of which is now returned to the County constituency. While some confusion undoubtedly may exist in the future as a result of this breach of the city boundary, on the other hand, as I say, it is not so much taking part of Ballyfermot from the city and putting it into the county but rather that the county has now ceded part of Ballyfermot to the city but in the operation the city boundary has been breached. That is the only breach of the entire city boundary between that and the county.

In the instance we are now discussing, we would, in fact, breach the boundary again. That, together with the figures which I have quoted and together with the very awkward and confusing boundary line this amendment would have the effect of creating brings about a situation and a pattern of constituency which is certainly no improvement on what we had. It is, to my mind, a very distinct disimprovement in some of its aspects.

It may appear to Deputies, and particularly to those who know the area well, that what is now proposed would be a workable proposition. I think that is not really sound because when we apply this to the maps, as we have done, we find part of these three areas of Dundrum, Milltown and Dromartin entirely isolated from the rest of the county constituency with only a very narrow corridor connecting the two. I feel that that in itself will cause very great confusion to the electors in areas adjoining this boundary line and will be a cause of difficulty in operation during an election and the taking of a poll. The question of a poll scheme, I am sure, could possibly be fitted into this pattern. It is not so much the question of a poll scheme or, indeed, the question of the ready manner in which prospective Deputies or candidates at an election could operate that is in my mind, so much as the confusion that would be created amongst the electorate in areas adjoining these boundary lines. I think we would have very great difficulty and very great confusion.

While what is proposed in the Bill may have its faults, I feel that taking it all in all, and from my knowledge of the multitude of patterns we tried to work out, the proposal in the Bill is the best of those that could be found and is unquestionably a better pattern of constituency boundary than is now proposed. In fact, I think it is better than anything we can find.

As I said in the House on Committee Stage—and I should like to repeat it—we have sought ways and means whereby the points raised by Deputy Cosgrave could be overcome. In trying to find the best pattern of constituency before the Bill came to the House, I felt that what we were presenting was the best. I undertook to examine the matter. I have since examined very thoroughly and very carefully any possible alternative, including in particular this suggested rearrangement as outlined in Deputy Cosgrave's amendment.

Having examined it carefully and as sympathically as possible, I am very firmly of the opinion that this is not an improvement and that, in fact, no suggested improvement of the proposal in the Bill has been forthcoming, nor can I foresee or find it in all the various attempts we made to get some change that would meet what the Deputy has suggested. On that basis and for those reasons, I am regrettably in the position that I cannot recommend or lend support in the House to the acceptance of what is proposed in this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 5, in the Schedule, in the second column of the entry relating to Carlow-Kilkenny, to delete "Tombrack" and "Ballybeg, in the former Rural District of Gorey".

This amendment also arises out of the discussion on Committee Stage when the Minister indicated to me that, as I felt so seriously about the matter, I should put down an amendment concerning these two areas. I stated, when speaking on Committee Stage, that I considered, apart from other matters, that the geographical situation of these two areas made it impracticable for them to be included in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency. In the course of the debate Deputy Corish asked the Minister what was the highest figure in the equated situation about which the Department of Local Government, the Minister and his advisers throughout the country had taken so much trouble. The reply was that it was 20,916 per seat.

The boundaries of Wexford and Carlow-Kilkenny are well defined. I understand the Constitution to provide that there shall not be more than a population of 30,000 per seat. I also understood the Constitution to read that there should not be fewer than 20,000 per seat. This is somewhat obscured by a decision of the High Court judge in the recent legislation. What I understand the learned High Court judge to have said was that where the figures were somewhat fewer one way or the other, it would not really matter and that it would be in keeping with the Constitution.

I should like to see Wexford retained as one unit. It seems to me that if Wexford is retained as a unit, that arrangement will still be within the Constitution, but I accept the fact that the Minister and his advisers must have given considerable time to working out the figures in relation to Wexford as it is placed within the equation inside the whole country. For that purpose I am confining my amendment to the two areas pushed right out of the middle of County Wexford.

I would direct the Minister's attention to this point: in the framing of the new constituencies the idea was to contain them within the figures but at the same time due consideration was to be given to the question of fair representation. On the Committee Stage of the Bill I pointed out that the new constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny will come within two miles of Ferns. We have got to take the existing situation as it was at the last general election. There were then three Deputies elected in the northern half of the County—the late Deputy Denis Allen and myself who lived approximately in the one district and about nine miles from Ferns, and Deputy Browne who still represents County Wexford like myself and who lives about eight miles from Ferns and ten miles from the prospective new boundary of the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency.

If consideration has been given to fair representation to give Deputies an opportunity of giving the best possible service, it does not seem feasible to have Tombrack removed quite a distance and put into Carlow-Kilkenny and take it away entirely from those in County Wexford who live next door to it. Exactly the same situation applies in the case of Ballybeg. The only difference there is that, taking the elected representation in the last general election, the late Deputy Allen and myself were in greater proximity to that area than was Deputy Browne though Deputy Browne is within a reasonable distance of it.

The Minister is a rural Deputy as I am. Perhaps he has even longer distances to travel and he must know very well how desirable it is that it should be possible for constituents to approach in person the Deputies who represent them to discuss their individual problems. I put this amendment to the House as being a reasonable one. Now I should like to get to the figures involved.

The figures I have are the Minister's own figures which he was kind enough to send to me after the discussion on the Committee Stage. In the Bill at the moment Wexford has been reduced to a population of 82,607 for four seats and Carlow-Kilkenny has a population of 102,629. By the inclusion in Wexford of Ballybeg, 372, and Tombrack, 625, a total of 997, the population of Wexford, if the amendment is adopted, would be increased to 83,604, giving an average of 20,901 per seat.

It was stated a few moments ago in answer to a query from Deputy Corish that the highest figure is 20,916. Therefore, the suggested figure for Wexford would be below the highest figure and though, as I pointed out in my remarks earlier, it is totally within provisions of the Constitution it is also within the mathematical equation of the Minister and his advisers. Carlow-Kilkenny, by losing the 997, for five seats will have a population per seat of 20,326. It does not seem to me to be a very big difference. There are only 600 in the difference between the two averages. But there is a big question—that of taking away from an historic county two areas for which there does not appear to me to be any justification on the figures.

Another angle I want to stress is that we in Wexford are out on a limb by ourselves. If any other constituency needed the figures to keep up its representation—and a high representation is obviously necessary in a nation where the State is spending the greater part of the money and where a Deputy's work is accordingly increasing—I could understand it. But Wicklow does not want any votes. Carlow-Kilkenny, strictly speaking within the Constitution, does not want any votes at all and in fact if the few votes, taken out of Carlow-Kilkenny at the bottom end of the constituency and put into Waterford, were left in Carlow-Kilkenny there would be a full quota of 20,000 to give Carlow-Kilkenny its full representation under the Constitution.

I do not know what the position is with regard to this Bill. I felt that the adjustments made were to try to keep as fair a representation as possible in every constituency. I can see absolutely no reason for taking away those two areas from Wexford. The Minister was good enough on the Committee Stage to indicate that if I felt strongly enough about it I should put down an amendment. I do feel strongly about it and I should like to tell the Minister that I am not the only person who feels strongly about it. We have our own standard of values in Wexford and we, Wexford Deputies—I think I can speak in this case for my political colleagues in the County—feel happy and contented to represent the people there. I would ask the Minister to accept this amendment. If he accepts the arguments I adduced that he is within the Constitution in doing so, I would have no objection at all if he gives us the whole of Wexford back.

As I pointed out to the House on the Committee Stage in respect to this matter and in respect to what Deputy Esmonde said on that occasion, this question is not just as simple as the Deputy seems to think. In fact, if it were, the Deputy would not have had any need to have recourse to an amendment such as is now before the House. The Deputy mentioned that the judge, in his summing up in the High Court, said that a little bit one way or the other did not matter. To my knowledge the judge did not use any such words or give such understanding. If the Deputy can find in the judgment of the High Court some words to that effect that have escaped my reading it is news to me. If there had been any such words in the judgment it would have made things much easier for me when framing the Bill.

I am not aware that the judgment suggested that a little this way or that way did not matter in regard to what the Constitution says—that there cannot be fewer than one Deputy for every 30,000 of the population or more than one for every 20,000 of the population. These figures cannot be applied strictly but in a given constituency they are the figures which determine the maximum or minimum number of Deputies which we may have under the law. While we are opting in this measure as in previous measures for the maximum number allowable under the Constitution, it does not follow that every seat must of necessity represent 20,000, 21,000 or 22,000. The Constitution does go quite a way to determine how the ratios in the various constituencies within the country as a whole may vary when it says that they shall be, so far as possible, the same.

That applies to the constituencies in which a division has had to be made, in which, for instance, a bit of Wexford has had to be taken and put into the adjoining constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny, which makes these two so far as possible the same. There is a difference of only 90 in the ratio of constituency member to population. In the proposed amendment the difference in ratio would rise from 90 to 575. Therefore, nobody can say that in arriving at a difference of only 90, as against 575, we are going against the Constitution which demands and dictates that the ratios shall be so far as possible the same.

It is quite natural that Deputy Esmonde and other Deputies who come from a constituency which up to now has been a county complete in itself without either additions or deletions in the past, would not like to see changes made. They would rather have reduced representation in their own county. I think that applies to all of us representing any constituency. We would willingly accept a seat less and be left with the old territory and population. In my own constituency of East Donegal we have had a change of population from one constituency to another of about 12,000. In the area where we have had to lose that 12,000 I would very happily agree to a three-seat representation instead of the previous four-seat representation. Unfortunately, I cannot do that. I must change the population from one constituency to the other. A greater number is being changed in my constituency than in Wexford for instance, and I deplore it equally with Deputy Esmonde and other Deputies who feel likewise in similar circumstances.

Deputy Esmonde suggested that Tombrack and Ballybeg should be left in Wexford rather than be among the eight district electoral divisions being transferred to Carlow-Kilkenny. If there were a choice in the matter of these eight divisions, I wonder would the other Wexford Deputies be of the same opinion as to the areas that should remain in Wexford? On the Committee Stage another Deputy from Wexford, Deputy Browne, suggested that some areas other than those mentioned by Deputy Esmonde should be left in Wexford and not taken into Carlow-Kilkenny. We have not had the views of the remaining two Deputies from Wexford but it is very likely that the other two would have different opinions from those expressed and if we were to satisfy all we would have to leave the eight in Wexford instead of as the Constitution dictates, taking the eight out of Wexford.

These things seem quite easy to arrange and to justify when one is discussing them from the Opposition side of the House or, as in this case, when one is talking as a Wexford Deputy. I can quite understand Deputy Esmonde's being convinced that his amendment provides the proper way to effect the necessary changes. However, even if there were a free choice and all the Wexford Deputies agreed on Tombrack and Ballybeg district electoral divisions being left in Wexford, the fact remains that it could not be done for the very good reason I have given earlier in regard to the population in Wexford constituency, that at 87,000 odd it is far below what would be held to be legal for five seats in the future and also far too high to have only four seats. It was quite obvious a change had to be made. It so happened the adjoining constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny had such a population in relation to the number of seats, coming near the 100,000 mark, that from the legal point of view and from the point of view of constitutional requirements it was capable of containing within it sufficient additional population which, taken from Wexford, brought Wexford within striking distance of the national average.

In that way, Wexford has come to cede this part to Carlow-Kilkenny rather than to some other part. Without any doubt whatsoever, the addition of these eight electoral divisions brings the Wexford average to 20,652, and on the other side of the boundary, by adding these 4,652 people in the eight district electoral divisions to Carlow-Kilkenny, the Carlow-Kilkenny ratio per member is brought up to 20,562, a difference in ratio, as I have pointed out, of only 90 as between the two constituencies.

If, side by side with that, we were to leave the two electoral divisions of Ballybeg and Tombrack in Wexford— that is, 997 people, just short of 1,000 —it would appear that that surely could not make much difference, but the effect would be to bring about a difference in ratio of 575, Wexford having 20,901 per member and Carlow-Kilkenny 20,326. As I say, looking at it initially it would appear that it would not make much difference, but, in fact, it makes a considerable difference when it is expressed in this manner, and related to the constitutional requirement that the ratio of population per member should be the same, so far as possible. By this division and this addition to Carlow-Kilkenny from Wexford, we have gone as far as possible to keep the member-population ratios as close as we can. There is just 90 in the difference.

A disimprovement in that position at this stage, particularly by way of amendment, surely could not go without notice. If I had unwittingly put it to the House, in the first instance, in that manner, it might have been accepted. It might have got away. But after consideration of the Bill, we have got a ratio which is so closely similar in these adjoining constituencies—and we have been obliged to make certain changes to conform with the Constitution—that I am afraid the expanding of that difference deliberately and wilfully, as it were, by way of amendment, with our eyes wide open, would not get away. We would be asking for quite an amount of trouble in the future if we were to propose to do that.

The big difficulty in all these divisions is not the question of getting agreement. You cannot have agreement; there never is agreement and there cannot be agreement. If my constituency is losing to another constituency, I will not agree to the part that is being lost. I am not satisfied, and neither is any other Deputy satisfied if he is losing portion of his own constituency which he has worked in and got to know, and the people of which have got to know him. It is natural that we should resent that. Deputy Esmonde is just like the rest of us who find ourselves in that situation. I must say I sympathise with him, but further than giving him my sympathy I cannot go.

In regard to the overall division, while it is objectionable from the Wexford point of view, it is a division which we were obliged to make. It has been done to conform with the constitutional law of the country and, while it is not acceptable to all concerned, nevertheless I think it will be agreed to be the best arrangement that could have been made in the circumstances. For that reason, I suggest the amendment should not be carried by the House. I suggest that the proposals in the Bill in regard to these two constituencies and these divisions, are the better arrangement, because they conform to a much greater degree with the requirements laid down. I very strongly recommend to the House the proposals in the Bill in that regard and I suggest that we should retain those proposals, rather than change them in the manner suggested in the amendment, or indeed in any manner that would, in turn, throw out of gear the ratio figures I have already recounted to the House.

The Minister certainly gave us a very long statement on his point of view, but I should like to submit to the House that he is not living in realities; he is living in Custom House statistics. Everything is being worked out on paper and according to figures. My case is a very simple one. It is that the county of Wexford need not have been interfered with at all and nothing the Minister has said will satisfy me that if he accepted my amendment, and further, if he not only accepted my amendment but returned in toto the electoral areas he has taken out of Wexford, he would still be within the confines of the Constitution.

The long discourse the Minister has given to the House is, in effect, an apologia for what he has done,. He has broken up the constituency for purposes best known to himself and his colleagues on the other side of the House.

Do not be daft.

The Minister is getting annoyed. The truth is sometimes annoying. He has given as a reason for not accepting my amendment that he does not know the views of all Deputies. Surely we were not born yesterday? Does everyone in the House not know that these constituencies have been discussed at length at Party level?

If the Deputy knew what he is talking about as well as he thinks he knows the business of other Parties, he would make a better contribution on the Bill.

If I have said something that is not true, if the Fianna Fáil Deputies have not discussed this Bill within the confines of their Party, I will sit down and give the Minister an opportunity of denying it. They are quite entitled to discuss it within the Party. What I object to is the Minister coming in here and using as one of his arguments what the other members of the Party would think. The Minister for Finance is a member of the Government and, obviously, he must have discussed this Bill with the Government. Deputy Browne is also a member of Fianna Fáil, the Party in Government at the moment. The Minister comes in here and tells me he does not know what they think or what they think of my amendment. Where are we going at all?

The Deputy will accept that I do not know what two of his Deputies think about his amendment?

It is not a question of my amendment alone. I distinctly heard the Minister say it had not been discussed at all. He did not know what the Party thought about the taking away of the other areas. He did not know if the Party wanted the other areas restored to the constituency or not.

I said nothing like that. I do not mind the Deputy taking me up wrongly, but when he repeats things I did not say in an emphatic manner, it is about time he stopped it. I did not say I did not know whether my Party discussed matters such as these or not. I have not mentioned "Party" since I came into the House.

Did the Minister not say it was possible that the other members of his Party would like other areas put back into the constituency?

I said the other members of the constituency, not necessarily of my Party. But surely the members of my Party have as much right to say something as the Deputy has?

Certainly. I was hoping they would say something about it. Apparently the Minister was speaking on behalf of his Party. That is why I am replying to him. Nobody else has said anything at all. The Minister has no intention of accepting my amendment. He has no intention of accepting any amendment whatever. This Bill was drawn and drafted and the order of the Government was that they were to stand firm on that. It would have been better had the Minister said on the Second Stage that he did not intend to accept any amendments whatever. He has made really no attempt to answer my arguments in the long and woolly reply he gave here this morning. He did not make any reference to incommoding Deputies or to the fact that, in the case of the Carlow-Kilkenny representatives, who have no interest in Wexford, their Wexford constituents would have to go miles to see them. He said he had to take all these areas out of the Wexford constituency and push them into another constituency. He did not even justify it by saying he was conforming with the Constitution. When he referred to what I said about the learned judge's statement, he did not even clarify what the judge said.

I want to make this protest before I sit down. I have the honour to be a member of an old political family. We have represented Wexford long before the Minister or his Party were heard of. I guess that we shall have the opportunity of doing so for a bit longer. But in all the years we have represented Wexford we have had the right to represent the Wexford people. It rests with a gerrymandering political expedient of the Fianna Fáil Party to remove that. Were it necessary to do so I would be happy and content, but it is quite unnecessary. It shows that political preference counts for more than anything else in Ireland to-day. That is the reason people are becoming politically disinterested. So long as that Party carry on the way they are, we shall have that state of affairs in Ireland.

Deputy S. Browne rose.

The Deputy is not entitled to speak now. Deputy Esmonde has replied.

He had plenty opportunities of speaking earlier, Sir.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 not moved.

I move amendment No. 5:

5. In page 11, in the Schedule to delete the entries relating to South Tipperary and Waterford and substitute the following:—


South Tipperary-Waterford.

The administrative County of Tipperary, South Riding, except the part thereof which is comprised in the County Constituency of North Tipperary; the County Borough of Waterford and the administrative County of Waterford.



This amendment offers to the Minister a final opportunity of solving the difficulty of whether South Tipperary or Waterford is entitled to get an additional seat. I believe it is a fair and just amendment. It does not give any special privilege to either side. It takes the combined populations and allocates the same number of seats as if there were separate constituencies. If accepted by the Minister it will lay at once the charge that the Minister is using his position for political advantage, because in the final analysis it will be the people of either South Tipperary or Waterford who will decide which political Party will secure the additional seat.

Deputy McQuillan suggested a compromise solution on the Committee Stage. The Minister indicated he did not favour that solution because, he said, the combined constituency would then be as unwieldy as other constituencies about which there had been complaints. Having looked at the map in the Library, and without taking scale measurements, I believe the area from where I live on the coast up to the other extremity at Thurles would be less than 60 miles. I would say from a visual examination that the Roscommon-Leitrim constituency is larger than the area from Waterford city to Thurles. Of course, Roscommon-Leitrim is a four-seat constituency; and with seven Deputies spread over the proposed combined constituency, I cannot see what would be wrong with such a solution. It would be preferable to have such a constituency rather than have it happen, as has been said, that one-third of Waterford constituency, 17,000 people, will be loath to vote at all in the coming general election because they will not have an opportunity of voting for any Waterford representative. It would be most unhealthy if these people accepted the advice tendered to them—certainly not by me—and refused to exercise the franchise at all. I trust that will not happen. I believe it is the duty of every citizen to register his vote at election time. I disagree with that type of advice but I can see it could be very effective.

I realise this is not the ideal solution. It is not the solution I should have liked but I want to confine myself strictly to my amendment today. I shall have an opportunity later, on some other stage, to make general remarks. At the moment, I want to confine myself strictly to the position. I have put the facts. The Minister must know them as well as I do. I feel we could comply with the High Court ruling and at the same time satisfy the feelings of the people in both constituencies. I suggest the Minister has a way out of what is to me a very unsatisfactory arrangement.

Deputy Kyne says it is not an ideal solution to put the whole of South Tipperary and Waterford into one constituency. It certainty would be a further step on the road the Minister indicated he was travelling towards a more satisfactory arrangement of the principle of proportional representation. He indicated he had substantially increased the number of five-member constituencies.

There was a time when the whole of Tipperary was a seven-member constituency. When Fianna Fáil policy began to dig the foundations from under the principle of proportional representation, the old seven-member constituency of Tipperary was wiped out. The seven-member constituency of Tipperary would be an ideal type of constituency in relation to the old principle but, if we are on the way back, I suggest there are very good reasons why a step on the way back could effectively and satisfactorily be taken by putting South Tipperary and Waterford together.

We heard the Minister on the difficulties created by a range of mountains in Donegal and on how necessary it was to change the situation there in order to get rid of the effect a range of mountains had on people's political convenience. To take part of Waterford and to put it into South Tipperary creates for the Waterford people and the people of Tipperary in the one constituency the type of difficulty the Minister said it was important to remove from the path of the political workers in Donegal.

The River Suir is a binding link between the boundaries of Waterford and Tipperary right up, you might say, the whole length of the Suir, in so far as the presence of the river can offset the difficulties created by the higher ground on the South. Some kind of an argument could be made that the concentration of interests and the concentration of contacts brought about by the River Suir in its most navigable reaches in the eastern part of the constituency would help to overcome some of the difficulties that arise in the west now.

If West Waterford is to be considered in relation to these economic, social and general contacts it is more connected with East Cork than with South Tipperary. Therefore the Minister has in Deputy Kyne's proposal, while from many points of view not a satisfactory arrangement, an arrangement that would have an axis of potential satisfaction running through it in the circumstances that the River Suir runs from Waterford to Clogheen, right through the whole length of the joint constituencies.

Therefore, I would ask the Minister to accept the proposal Deputy Kyne puts before the House and to allow a joint constituency of Waterford and South Tipperary. A seven-member group would have the joint interests and the joint outlook of the two areas which have a very close affinity on many matters. Such a group would have an opportunity of expressing that outlook in this Parliament.

I was a member for Tipperary when it was a seven-member constituency. I was very happy when the constituency was divided because of the tremendous difficulty involved in travelling maybe as many as 100 miles from one part to the other. I think the figures of distance given by Deputy Kyne were the minimum rather than the maximum. From a purely personal angle, I would wish that Waterford would be tacked on to South Tipperary. It would suit me admirably. At the same time, I do not see that it would be any improvement whatsoever on the present position.

Many accusations were made against me on the Committee Stage so far as the Bill was concerned. Deputy Kyne, as reported in the Official Report, said I consulted with him in connection with the division of the constituency. If he is correctly reported, I deny categorically that I ever had any consultation whatsoever with Deputy Kyne on the subject.

So far as the division of Waterford is concerned, I regret it very much. I should much prefer that Waterford would remain a distinct constituency just as I should prefer that Tipperary South Riding would remain a distinct constituency. But, while uniting the two counties and forming one big constituency would suit me perfectly, I still think the division in the Bill is better for all the people concerned.

Is the Minister accepting the amendment?

What does the Deputy think? I am still pondering on what "axis for potential satisfaction" means. You may have something there. The suggested arrangement which would appear to have some, I suppose, axis for potential satisfaction in the House is one I do not agree with.

Make it "axis for political satisfaction".

Oh! I am still stumped. However, let it be one thing or another. The fact is that the proposal in this amendment is that Tipperary South Riding or the constituency of South Tipperary, as it is delineated in the Bill, added to all the County of Waterford should become one constituency and be represented by seven members in this House. As I indicated on an earlier stage here, I do not agree with that suggestion, but let me just to some degree elaborate on some of the reasons why I would not agree with such a suggestion, whether it concerns Tipperary or Waterford or any other part of the country.

The fusing of these two areas would bring about a situation wherein roughly 145,000 people would be in that constituency, a rural constituency in the main. It would embrace approximately 1,000,000 acres.

It sounds awfully big in acres. Give it to us in square miles.

It looks good, though.

From the Minister's point of view.

Those who think otherwise can break it down to the other figure. However, it is formidable. No matter how you describe it, it is a big area. There is a big population and, in addition to that, the distances would undoubtedly be extended and I think somewhat beyond what Deputy Kyne suggested. He mentioned a figure of 60 miles, but I have one of approximately 76, from a point in the southern extremity of Waterford through Carrick-on-Suir right up to the north-west of Tipperary.

That is the longest distance?

I would not disagree with that.

I am not really making a point of it, whether it is five or ten miles more or less. What I am saying is that the fusion of the two areas makes a population of 145,000 and gives approximately 1,000,000 acres of territory and distances of somewhere around 60, 70 or 75 miles from one point in the proposed constituency to another.

Let us look at it in another and, perhaps, a more understandable way. If we can conceive of Counties Cavan, Leitrim and Monaghan being put together, the result would approximate to the size of what is now proposed in the fusion of South Tipperary and all of Waterford. I think anybody would regard the putting of Cavan, Leitrim and Monaghan into one constituency —and with pretty good reason—as objectionable because of the unwieldy size of the constituency created.

One can look at it nearer home. If Wexford and Wicklow were put together, that would be approximately the same area and extent as is involved in this proposal. I think it is true that smaller areas and smaller populations make for better service to the people concerned—whether in three-seat or four-seat constituencies is not of any great importance. We must have threes at times and fours at other times and so on. As things now stand, we have nothing greater than five-seat constituenies. I believe under the 1923 Act some years ago we had a considerable number of large-size constituenies which were reduced under the 1935 Act and disappeared altogether in the 1947 Act. Certainly I do not hope to see them revived but this amendment would have that effect. Such a revival would not be in the best interests of the people whom we and those who come after us will represent. In smaller areas, with smaller numbers of Deputies, better service can be given and Deputies get to know the area better and more particularly the people get to know the Deputies better. All these are very good reasons for not reverting to something that has been well tried in the past and has proved not to be very workable, with the result that the large size constituencies were dropped until we now have only the five-member constituencies since 1947.

I think Deputy Mulcahy referred to the possibility of East Cork and Waterford or East Cork and Tipperary being combined and that people in such a combination would have more in common than what we propose in this Bill. I do not disagree, but while I may appear to disagree in certain cases as proposed in the Bill, I have not changed my mind in regard to the objectionable features I see and understand to exist where dissimilar populations are put together in constituencies. I still have my opinions, but, for the purposes of this Bill, what I feel or believe does not matter; it is what the law says should be done and what it says we should have regard to that count. These are things which we have been expressly told we are not required to have regard to, as well as quite a number of other things that I should like to take into account. All of them have been brushed aside and if I now appear, in putting this measure before the House, to be contradicting what I said on the earlier Bill in 1959, it is for the very good reason—not that I have changed my mind—that the law has been interpreted. These matters I believed— and still believe—in have been said not to be of any account in the delineation of constituencies in these revisions.

I suppose these matters will come under discussion in the years to come but let those revisions take care of themselves. Coming back to the amendment, the creation of large constituencies is not desirable or advisable. Experience has shown that. In this instance, I cannot see what advantage these areas of Waterford or South Tipperary would gain by putting them together. Deputy Kyne spoke of the possibility of the people of Waterford not voting at all if joined to South Tipperary. He said there were those who might advise them that that would be their remedy. About 17,000 or 16,000 of these people are joining Tipperary South Riding constituency.

I am just quoting Deputy Kyne at this stage——

Nine thousand voters.

Nine thousand voters and a population of 11,000 odd.

I did not say "voters" just now.

I know. The population is said to be 11,000, according to figures given by the Minister.

I am merely quoting what Deputy Kyne mentioned as 17,000. Whether it is 17,000 or 14,000 or 11,000 is not really important——

——in the context of what I have to say in this respect. It is that there are sufficient people on the register in that part of Waterford which it is proposed will go into South Tipperary to make it well worth their while to vote, sufficient to give them a Waterford man as their representative. They have more than a quota. They have much less grievance on that account.

That is a bit naive, is it not?

They have much less reason to grieve than have the three, four, five or six thousand people who were brought in from adjoining counties and whose votes in the other new constituencies will be of no significance. The vote in the Waterford area added to South Tipperary will be of great significance. So significant is it that the people in that area can command a seat. Who knows but we might have a couple of Waterford people representing that constituency?

That will be the day when all Parties join together.

That may be, but the fact still remains that the people in this area will now find themselves in a position to command a seat in this House. That is of great significance. Anybody who regards the position as otherwise will very likely find himself not here after the next election. I would advise the Deputies concerned to keep an eye on this Waterford vote.

We propose to make it significant.

The voters in that part of Waterford and Tipperary will be worth looking after, from a political point of view. No one should write them off as of no significance. The people who have been advising them that the way out is not to vote are on the wrong track. That advice will not work when the election comes round.

What we are trying to do is to preserve parity within the over-all ceiling permissible under the Constitution. We have to work within that framework. It is within that framework this Bill has been brought before the House. I hope Deputies will not precipitately rush into the idea of reverting to large member constituencies. We have had experience of those in the past and it is as a result of that experience that we are now writing them off as not being in the interests of the community, the electorate or the country as a whole. Because of Deputy Kyne's persistent efforts, I should like to be able to agree, for the sake of agreement, but I cannot find myself in a position in which I can support this amendment.

I do not think it is correct for the Minister to say that there is more than a quota in this area and that that quota could send a Deputy into this House. On figures, there is more than a quota, but it would need a witch or a wizard to get all the voters there—Fianna Fáil, Labour, Fine Gael, Independent—to vote for one candidate. I am sorry I could not be here for the whole of this discussion. I was here last week, and I do not think it was correct for the Minister to say at column 1571 of Volume 188 of the Official Report:

I have not heard for quite a long time, nor do I hope to hear again for quite a long time, such a befuddled, muddled calculation as was adduced here by Deputy Kyne.

That was not fair to Deputy Kyne. Deputy Kyne gave a figure of 73,718 for South Tipperary. I have here the Statistical Abstract for 1960 and Table VIII at page 18 of the Census of Population gives the figure 73,718 for South Tipperary and 74,031 for Waterford. Those were the figures given by Deputy Kyne. They are the correct figures.

It is not just a matter of Deputy Kyne, myself, or my colleagues from Fianna Fáil, or anybody else, trying to influence people to vote or not to vote. I am convinced that when the election comes, there will be wholesale absention in both the South Tipperary and Waterford area. I have been in the area twice since last week and I was surprised to discover how oddly people feel about this. People who have never voted for my Party told me how sorry they were. I think the amendment tabled would cover the position. It would be infinitely preferable to leave the existing boundaries of Waterford stand.

May I express an opinion? I believe the decision of the Minister to put Ballyfermot into County Dublin will disfranchise the people of Ballyfermot. Certain local councillors hoped to be elected. Now that the area has been put into County Dublin, they will not go forward for election because they believe they will not have a chance. The three outgoing members representing County Dublin reside miles away from Ballyfermot. One lives in Whitehall, one in Lusk, and one somewhere else. Not one of them resides in Ballyfermot.

How does this arise on Waterford and South Tipperary?

How does this arise at this stage?

I thought we were on Report Stage.

We are on Report Stage. We are on amendment No. 5.

To-day, as on previous occasions, the Minister falls back on the one excuse. He tells us that much that is now being done is not his wish, that it was the High Court decision. The High Court did not decide. The learned judge did not say to the Minister that one-third of Waterford should go in with South Tipperary. It is a bit late in the day to suggest that the High Court advised that there should not be a seven-member constituency within the area of Waterford and South Tipperary. Whatever defence the Minister may have and whatever ground he may put forward for his opposition to a seven-member constituency, he cannot avail of the pretext that he would like to have a seven-member constituency, but the High Court objects to it.

Furthermore, so far as I am aware the High Court decision did not say that one-third of a county should be given to another area. I think it is right to say that the natural approach would be to take in the lesser area. That was discussed at another stage and the Minister objected. It must have been obvious to the Minister that this was not the remedy, even though Deputy Loughman would wish for the remedy of taking one-third of Waterford and giving it to Tipperary. Like Deputy Lynch, I would say that it is nonsensical, muddled and befuddled, to use the Minister's own words, to suggest that they can find an agreed candidate and say: "This is our man against South Tipperary." Deputy Loughman and others know that that could not be because it would be a sad day for any county if we could marshal the people to such an extent as to deny them the right, even within one-third of the county, to vote for the candidates from the different political Parties.

I believe the remedy is to have a seven-seat constituency. It is obvious that a large portion of Waterford will be victimised, if not disfranchised. In the proposal before the House, there is no suggestion whatever of victimisation of the people in South Tipperary because, contrary to the view of the Minister that the Waterford people can forget politics and provide an agreed candidate, in this suggestion, Tipperary with seven seats would still be an entity and fighting for the third or fourth seat, whichever it may be, which would be fought out in the seven-seat constituency. Certainly that could not be suggested as victimising the people in South Tipperary. It is because we know what would happen to the people in west and north-west Waterford that we are asking for a fair measure of protection for these people.

The Minister has referred to his abhorrence of breaking up boundaries. That may be so, but the Minister had the remedy and so had the Taoiseach. It would have been no trouble for them to have introduced an amendment of the Constitution, if they so wished, but they avoided that.

Would the Deputy support it?

The Deputy said on Second Stage that he would.

It is one thing to say it here——

The Deputy made it clear 12 months ago that even in fighting a county that was victimised, he did not do so at the expense even of Donegal. The fact is that if the Minister does believe that victimisation might be the result of breaking boundaries, the remedy is in his hand. Apparently he is not prepared to do that and is apparently not prepared to give fair play to one-third of the population which is being switched over to South Tipperary.

If no other Deputy offers, I will call on Deputy Kyne to reply.

I was very interested in the views put forward by Deputy Mulcahy. Naturally, coming from another political Party, it was heartening to find that my amendment had the support of that Party, not because I thought it was going to give me any particular advantage but it did make an appeal to the Minister, a combined appeal, and it broadened my amendment to show that all Parties, other than the Government Party, were willing to seek a solution to the situation. Deputy Mulcahy pointed to a time when such a combination of seven seats worked effectively. The Minister went on to say that flaws were found in it and objections raised in the past. I have no knowledge of that. I am sure the Minister has not either, but possibly there are records which he consulted. I have no knowledge of what the defects of the seven-seat constituency were found to be. Deputy Mulcahy pointed out that the natural line of the River Suir divided the two constituencies and gave them an axis on which to operate.

I was interested in Deputy Loughman's assurance that it would suit him admirably if this should happen, but, having said that, he went on to be the hero. Of course, there was the natural inference that, notwithstanding what suited him, he put above himself and above every other consideration the things he thought were good for the people of South Tipperary. I was interested in the 100 miles which Deputy Loughman travelled in this constituency which he knew so well a long time ago. The Minister has come approximately to the same figure as I estimated for the length of the county. The Minister said 76 miles and I said certainly from Dungarvan to Thurles it was 54 or 56, but I would not quarrel with the Minister's 76. I suggest that the Roscommon-Leitrim area is 90 miles, 14 miles more. I know of course that by various ways you can always prove with figures any kind of an argument you want to build up, whether they are for acres or miles. There is nothing more unwieldy in Waterford-South Tipperary than in Carlow and Kilkenny. There may be a greater density of population in Waterford. A population of 28,000 people, all within a radius of 10 miles——

And it does not prevent the electors of Carlow being Carlow-conscious or of Kilkenny being Kilkenny-conscious.

Not a bit. Of course, the Minister can say that he would like to help but because of a High Court judge's decision on a suggestion made by a Fine Gael Senator, he cannot. Because of that, the whole country must be punished. We must take our medicine because we were not good boys and went to the courts to prove the Bill wrong. I want to have it on record that I have not the slightest animosity towards Senator O'Donovan for challenging what he felt was wrong and was proved to be wrong. It is a good thing that there are people in this country who believe in a principle so much that they will at their own expense contest it, particularly if, as is the case in this instance, they are proved to be correct. Senator O'Donovan was proved to have been correct in his belief that the legislation enacted by this House was faulty. That was his view and he was perfectly entitled to it and if the results do not suit me particularly now, I have no grievance against the man who did what he felt was his duty.

The Minister tries to avail of the action of Senator O'Donovan to say that he could not do as suggested. When the law permits him to do what I am now suggesting, he is not able to say that the High Court judge is preventing him from doing it. When it suits him, he says he is forced to take a certain course. He is forced to break the boundary somewhere. I pointed out on Committee Stage an alternative. He then said that the ratio would be too high, that there would be too many left in South Tipperary. He put in one-third of Waterford, depriving people of Waterford of the right to elect their own county man. Deputy Desmond and Deputy Lynch dealt with the ridiculous remark that there is nothing to stop them electing a Waterford man, if they all combine. I am afraid we have not got a Messiah down there who would be all things to all men. I am not saying that there will not be any Waterford man elected because the Party machinery is already setting about trapping these Waterford votes for Fianna Fáil.

We in Fine Gael are doing a little also for the purpose of helping the Waterford people to make use of their political strength and, if we can spare them help, the Waterford man will get in.

Already, the skids are about to be put under some Fianna Fáil Deputies who will be candidates in the next election but it will be the grand old Party anyway. Deputy Loughman will not be worried—he is a natural. When John Fahy takes his place there, he will be happy because it will all be for the Party. That is beside the point.

I want to conclude by saying to the Minister, who went on to talk about the ratio being changed, that that is ridiculous. If four seats with a certain population can come within the law and if three seats in Waterford constituency come within the law, on the ratio basis, and if you combine both populations and make it seven seats that automatically changes the suggestion. He went on to suggest, but did not give us any figures——

Changed it by about 62 each way.

I suggest that that has no effect and that the Minister was merely looking for something on which to hang an excuse. The Minister was very nice to me and said that I was so persistent that he would almost like to agree with me. He regretted it. I regret it also but for a different reason. He regrets it because I am so persistent; I regret it because one-third of my county has been sold away for political purposes. I certainly will contest the election. I am quite hopeful that I will make as good a run as anybody else. If I am beaten, I will accept that decision. The time in my life has passed when I had to worry about such decisions. While I have been here, I have done my best conscientiously. If the people of Waterford want to return me again, that is their business. I dislike a political Party gerrymandering and trying to keep the people of Waterford from electing me so much as to transfer some 9,000 of them into South Tipperary.

Question: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand," put and declared carried.
Bill received for final consideration.
Fifth stage ordered for Wednesday, 17th May, 1961.