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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 28 May 1968

Vol. 235 No. 1

Committee on Finance. - An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1968: An Coiste (Atógáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Committee Stage (Resumed).

D'atógadh an díospóireacht ar an leasú seo a leanas:
I gCuid I, leathanach 7, línte 2 go 5, "ar fhairsinge agus ionsroichteacht dáilcheanntar agus ar a riachtanaighe atá sé límistéirí caothamhla ionadaidheachta do chur ar fagháil agus, fá n-a réir sin,", a scriosadh;
I gCuid II, leathanach 7, línte 19 go 21, "the extent and accessibility of constituencies and the need for securing convenient areas of representation and, subject to those considerations, to", a scriosadh.
Debate resumed on the following amendment:
In Part I, page 6, lines 2 to 5, to delete "ar fhairsinge agus ionsroichteacht dáilcheanntar agus ar a riach-tanaighe atá sé límistéirí caothamhla ionadaidheachta do chur ar fagháil agus, fá n-a réir sin,";
In Part II, page 6, lines 19 to 21, to delete "the extent and accessibility of constituencies and the need for securing convenient areas of representation and, subject to those considerations, to".
—(Deputy T.J. Fitzpatrick(Cavan).
Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

This amendment proposes to delete the provision which we were proposing to put into the Constitution—that regard will be had to the extent and accessibility of constituencies and the need for securing convenient areas of representation. I have not much more to say about it.

The contention by the Fine Gael Party apparently is that this is not required and that there is no likelihood of there being a constituency in which the question of extent and accessibility would impose any difficulty on a Deputy in adequately representing the people of that constituency. I am not for a moment suggesting that there are any possible constituencies in which there would be large extents of tractless wastelands to be covered. At the same time, I think that if anybody here would take the trouble to examine what must happen if the changes we propose are not made, he will see that there are bound to be certain constituencies which will be unwieldy in extent and which will impose considerable difficulty on the elected Deputies for the constituencies in adequately covering them.

Deputy Harte is on record as saying that in so far as he is concerned it is quite clear that the county of Donegal should be one constituency only and that there would be no difficulty whatever, again in so far as he is concerned, in adequately representing the whole of the county of Donegal. That is one viewpoint. I am suggesting that there would be difficulty in one Deputy adequately representing the whole of the county of Donegal.

I suggest that the size, the shape and the other physical features of a constituency such as that would make it impossible for any one individual adequately to represent the whole of that county. Of course, under the system of representation we have here, each Deputy is elected to represent the whole of the constituency. Perhaps other Opposition Deputies would like to give us their opinion about the adequate representation of the new areas with which they will be involved and which they will have to represent, if this amendment is not passed, because I am quite sure that, with all the information available to them, Deputies have considered this matter— that they have not just decided to oppose this proposition that we are making because it has been introduced by Fianna Fáil, but that they have examined what must happen if some such scope as we are asking for in this proposed amendment of the Constitution is not given in the delineation of constituencies.

We have on record from one of the Deputies from Donegal the suggestion that the ideal thing for that part of the country is that there should be one five-seat constituency of the whole county of Donegal. It might have been interesting to hear also, let us say, from Deputies from County Kerry as to whether the size, shape and accessibility of the county of Kerry would make it difficult for them adequately to represent that whole county, because if what we are proposing is not accepted, it is quite on the cards that, like Donegal, County Kerry may have to become one single constituency and I should like to hear the Opposition Deputies for that constituency giving us their opinion as to the feasibility of adequately representing that likely constituency.

It would be interesting to hear from these Deputies whether the physical features of the area would interfere with them, would make it difficult for the people to have the type of representation that they have come to expect; whether the existence of mountain ranges and peninsulas in that area would affect the adequate representation of the people and also whether the possible addition of portion of the present constituency of West Cork, separated from County Kerry by a mountain range and accessible in so far as some parts of it are concerned only by means of the Healy Pass, would be a type of solution to the problems that exist—whether it would be preferable to what we are proposing here, that is, that it should be permissible to take these things into consideration in deciding on constituencies.

Again, as Deputy Fitzpatrick knows, the likelihood is that if what we are proposing is not accepted, if we are not given some scope in avoiding anomalies, one of the things that is likely to happen is that the counties of Cavan and Monaghan will be combined to form one constituency.

(Cavan): That would suit me down to the ground.

Deputy Fitzpatrick, the chief Opposition spokesman, knows from figures and so on, that this is probably the most likely thing to happen in that part of the country. I should like him to go on record as saying whether he thinks that the same services can be given to the people by a Deputy who has to cover the whole of those two counties from Castleblayney to Arva and from Virginia to Emyvale. There is, I think, no point in considering this question except in the context of the type of situation that must arise if this amendment we are proposing to the Constitution is not carried. I think it is necessary to have these guidelines that we put down here so that it will be definetely permissible to take those very relevant practical matters into consideration in revising constituencies in future.

Of the many disservices which the Fianna Fáil Party have rendered to the people of Ireland, one of the greatest is the conviction which they have spread abroad and which they wish to continue to create that a right, a service, an opportunity, is not available unless the application for it is processed through a TD. It is because of that disservice, because of that idea which they have implanted in the minds of the Irish people, that they now wish to base representation in this Parliament upon acreage and not upon the minds of independent, sturdy, disciplined, self-respecting people. The Fianna Fáil Party do not wish the Irish people to be self-respecting and independent. They wish the people of Ireland to be beholden to some political person. They wish the people to feel that anything in this world will be denied to them unless they go hat-in-hand to some politician, preferably of the Fianna Fáil Party, to get what is theirs as a right.

It is because that situation has been built up over the years by the Fianna Fáil Party who want the people to be subservient to them that we are now asked to base our whole parliamentary representation upon the paths that are to be worn by public representatives going to see their constituents or the paths that are to be worn by constituents going to see their public representatives. This is contemptible. This is folly. This is an effort to crystallise one of the most destructive forces in this land, the force which is destroying the self-respecting dignity of our people.

In an effort to justify this, which is to facilitate the operation of this demoralising practice, the Minister has suggested that some constituencies, as we know them, would be abolished and that some counties would be amalgamated with other counties in order to create convenient constituencies, or in order to create constituencies which the law now requires should exist because the law now says that there should be equality in the ratio between population and Deputy. What is interesting to recall, Sir, is that the then Minister for Local Government of the Fianna Fáil Party gave evidence on oath in the High Court seven years ago that it would be necessary to amalgamate some 16 constituencies or some 16 counties, some 16 administrative areas, if the court interpreted the Constitution in the way in which it was argued by the plaintiff it should be interpreted.

And that was right.

The truth, of course, is that in the event it was not necessary to amalgamate 16 counties.

That was because the court permitted the 5 per cent divergence.

The court allowed no such thing, and typical of the utterly false propaganda being advanced in support of this despicable proposal is the one that the courts have allowed a 5 per cent divergence. The courts have allowed no divergence from equality in so far as equality is practicable. The courts have said, because our Constitution says and because the people of Ireland said, equality should operate in the ratio between population and Deputy as far as it was practicable. In relation to the 1961 revision equality as far as it was practicable was operated. The courts have not said that a 5 per cent divergence is permissible. That is not what the courts said. That is not what the Constitution says. That is not what the law at the moment says and that is why I queried last week the ruling out of order of an amendment when the reason for ruling it out of order was supposed to be that the law at the moment allowed a 5 per cent divergence. The law allows no divergence whatsoever. It says it shall be equal as far as practicable.

It is open to this House and to the Seanad now under our existing law to make a re-arrangement of constituencies but there is an obligation on this House and on the other House to make the ratio between the population and Deputies equal as far as practicable. This House and the Seanad have no right to assume, and nobody has any right to assume, that the courts would allow a 5 per cent differential in the year 1968, because if it were possible to arrange the constituencies with equality without any differential, that is the obligation which would lie on us to achieve and it is that equality which the Minister and the Government are now seeking to depart from. They are now saying that no longer will there be an obligation to achieve that equality. We are to allow a divergence which is going to disfranchise almost one-third of the people living in the urban areas compared with their politically more powerful cousins down the country.

Can we deal with the question of the proposed amount of deviation on this amendment, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle?

Do I understand that the Minister wants me to deal with the proposed amount of deviation?

I want to know whether we can deal with it on this amendment or wait until we come to the Schedule.

I understood from what the Minister said that we were dealing with it.

I did not mention it.

I would point out to the Deputy that a reference to that might be appropriate to the Schedule as amended but at this stage it would not be appropriate.

The section we are dealing with, I understand, is on page 6, the sixth amendment. I think, Sir, with all respects, and I am going to accept the restrictions you are imposing on me, that you cannot consider it in a vacuum and that you must bear in mind the departure from the fundamental principle which at present applies, that is, the principle of one man, one vote and to every man an equal vote, an equal say and an equal interest in the destiny of the nation. I think that is a worthy and desirable objective. We in the Fine Gael Party do not believe that we are justified in destroying that principle by all kinds of fatuous excuses about extent and accessibility of constituencies.

What is to be the test of accessibility? Will it depend on rainfall, on frequency of air transport, on location of airports? Is it fair, in determining accessibility of constituencies, to say that there are regions in Dublin where during many hours of the day, because of traffic jams and such, it takes the better part of an hour to travel three miles? Is any allowance to be made for the inaccessibility of some areas in Dublin?

That could not be the same as down the country where you have to travel to some parts of the constituency 40 and 50 miles away.

The Minister's colleague, the former Minister for Lands, said that civil servants should not complain if they had to go to Castlebar or Athlone because they could get to their place of work quicker than from the homes they had in Dublin. The Parliamentary Secretary, if he is condemning me, and I would be pleased to think he was, because if he and I were to agree it would be a very sorry situation, with regard to what I am saying in relation to traffic jams in Dublin, is condemning his own Minister and his own Government who put forward as a justification for putting people down the country that they would be able to travel 20 miles in Connemara or the Midlands faster than they could travel three miles through the centre of Dublin.

I am not saying that is a wrong test. I say it is a fair one, but if that is to be the test, then 60 miles in rural Ireland should be equivalent to nine miles in urban areas of Dublin. I know that Dublin Deputies on the opposite side listening to me could not entirely disagree with what I am saying. There are difficulties in travelling through one's constituency in Dublin during the normal working day which I am sure are greater than travelling miles and miles of open land in rural constituencies.

You could use your own two feet.

Or a fourpenny bus.

We have a typical anti-urban attitude. The Parliamentary Secretary has just said that a fourpenny bus ride will get you anywhere in Dublin.

In your constituency.

A fourpenny bus ride could not get us through any of our constituencies in Dublin.

Or a sixpenny one.

There are many families in Dublin where they are obliged to pay 1/- to get into town and 1/- to get out of town, that is 2/- for a return journey, and because of the way in which the Dublin bus services operate, many people are obliged to go from their homes into town on one bus and get another in the centre of the city to take them to their destination.

Is the Deputy in favour of the amendment or against it?

It is not at all unusual for people in the Dublin area to have to pay as much as 4/- a day to travel to their relatives or friends. I am against this amendment because——

You are not in favour of it then?

I am in favour of our amendment.

(Cavan): They are annoyed because they were dragged in here to listen to this.

We are making an amendment to your amendment. It is difficult and one can easily get confused. I do not pretend to be——


——free from confusion. The truth of the matter is—the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister by their own remarks confirm me in my awareness of this—that you people over there have no understanding of the difficulty of traversing an urban area and do not consider the problems of getting through Dublin, where the problems of accessibility are such that it would take many people in Dublin much longer to reach their TD than it would take others in rural constituencies who might have to travel 40, 50 or 60 miles.

Not at all.

It is true that people in Dublin who want to consult their TDs can spend much longer trying to get to them than many others in rural areas who have to travel much longer distances. Those unfortunate people in Dublin who have to pay bus fares of up to 4/- find it very hard to get in touch with their TDs. The Minister knows darn well that this is true.

You said it is only Fianna Fáil people who go to their TDs.

I am aware that there is a serious burden placed on the people in Dublin, the many thousands of people who have to pay high bus fares and spend a long time getting from one area to another. I am also aware that the problem of accessibility to TDs was not what was in the mind of the Government when they wrote the word "accessibility" into their abnoxious proposal. The extent of a constituency can be due to many factors, such as inland lakes, mountain ranges, large agricultural pastures and so forth. It is apparent that those will now be the determining factors in the representation of the people of Ireland.

I think we have reached a sorry state of affairs when we are going to determine the structure of this House by the bricks, stones and acres of this country. There is no parallel like it in the world. It is because we in the Fine Gael Party believe that these are unworthy things to have in mind when setting up constituencies that we have proposed our amendment to the Government amendment.

Finally, I would like to make this remark. Some 70 per cent of the Members of this House who can be members of local authorities are in fact members of local authorities. In other countries it is a rare event for members of Parliament to be members of local authorities. If the Government genuinely feel that there are insufficient public representatives for the people of this country, there is a very easy way of increasing the pool of public representatives available to our people, that is, by prohibiting Members of either House of the Oireachtas from being members of local authorities. You would, in so doing, make available to the Irish people, without any additional numbers whatsoever, some 100 or more additional public representatives because you would have county councillors, urban councillors, town councillors who would not be Members of the Dáil or the Seanad. Those people would be scattered across the trackless wastes, to which reference has been made by Government speakers. They would be there seven days a week and we would get away from the present system where some 70 per cent of us are members of local authorities and, on account of being Members of the Dáil or Seanad, are not accessible to the people for three or four days of a week during the parts of the year we are in this House. These are the kinds of thing which could give better representation to the people of this country without any additional problem. These are the kinds of things which could be brought into operation, which would avoid doing violence to the Constitution, which would avoid interfering with the fundamentals which one would have thought sacred and accepted principles—one man, one vote and to every man an equal vote, an equal say in the destinies of the nation.

At the start of his remarks, Deputy Ryan criticised Fianna Fáil as being responsible for the present feeling amongst Irish people that they must always contact their local TD in order to get anything. I contradict that absolutely, but I am very much in favour of taking every possible action to keep constituents very closely in touch with their TD at all times. For that reason the Government have put in this provision in the Schedule to the Bill which has my complete support.

Deputy Ryan says that to take into account in determining constituencies the extent and accessibility of these constituencies would need that we secure convenient areas of representation. I would not agree with this for a moment and I think it is only someone who has failed to read the papers or look at television in the past couple of weeks who would put forward the suggestion that we do not need as close as possible contact between the ordinary representative and the public. What Frenchmen call a revolution which is taking place in France at the moment is simply because the French people do not want to be ruled by faceless men.

Speak for yourself.

I cannot speak as a Frenchman. Deputies believe that troubles of the moment are due to a lack of representation between Governments and the ordinary man in the street. We are sometimes criticised as being over-represented, having too high a rate of representation. I do not agree. I think we must do everything we can to ensure that every man in the street knows who his TD is, knows where to get him, and is constantly in touch with him. It is not a question of arguing about old age pensions, drainage, roads, resurfacing of boreens, or whatever it may be. It involves a steady line of communication between Government and people so that the people will know what the Government are doing, when a measure is significant when it comes before the House, and so on.

It is because in other countries this line of communication is broken that people who do not know who are governing them have no confidence in the people in the National Assembly. We must make certain that we will not become faceless men, cut off from the community. We must keep ourselves closely in touch with our constituents at all times.

A country constituency has particular difficulties in that there are physical features, which Deputy Ryan mentions, like mountains, rivers, road systems, which make it difficult for a parliamentary representative adequately to represent his area. To my mind, the main difference between the rural and urban areas is that in the urban areas you have frequent meetings of groups of people together where a TD can meet 50 or 200 people at a time. In an ordinary rural area, it is hard enough to get groups of 15 or 20 together and the average country TD has to do most of his work by personal calls, by receiving people at his own house, or his clinic, or whatever it may be. I think present events make this provision in the Bill more relevant and more necessary than ever and to a dispassionate observer, it will be clear how vital it is to proper development of parliamentary democracy.

If we have large country constituencies where a large majority of the people rarely, if ever, see their TD and even more rarely have a chance of talking to him about legislation and what is going on, we are in danger of the disruption of society which is already taking place in so many European countries. We must learn from them, and even if it does mean a slightly increased representation here in one constituency over another, what difference. We have Deputy Ryan talking about one man, one vote, and so on. He has only to look at the situation of this day to see where the situation is wildly in excess of what we are providing, how the constituencies will be revised, what loading will be given to extent and accessibility. He quite forgets of course that these constituencies will be determined by a commission representative of the Government and the Opposition in equal numbers and presided over by a High Court judge. In his more rational moments, Deputy Ryan approves of High Court judges.

(Cavan): Surely the Deputy knows there is no such provision in the Third Amendment.

It covers the whole of the constituency boundaries and Deputy Fitzpatrick knows that well.

(Cavan): I do not know any such thing.

It is the commission who will read the meaning into these amendments. They are perfectly clear themselves and the people who will interpret them will be three Government Members, three Opposition Members, with the help of the casting vote of a High Court judge.

(Cavan): Nonsense.

Nothing could be fairer than that. There is nothing here to say that these provisions shall be applicable to rural areas only. If there is any validity in Deputy Ryan's comments about city traffic jams, and so on, there is nothing to prevent the commission taking action on that and making allowances accordingly. Therefore, a properly dispassionate and properly balanced commission will do that. If they feel there is no real value in what Deputy Ryan contends, they will not take action along these lines. Where are we to give priority? Deputy Ryan says that this refers only to rural constituencies. I hope the Opposition will think again about this amendment. It is a useful exercise in determining what sort of parliamentary democracy we need. I am the last one to suggest we should encourage constituents to come to their TDs to investigate their statutory rights. I am positive we must keep our parliamentary representatives closely in touch with their constituents, much more closely than they are at the moment. If we do not do this, we will face a disaster similar to that which has happened in France and other countries.

There is no question of anything arbitrary. If we ignore mountains, lakes, and so on, we are just fooling ourselves. We have to take into account how easy it is to get from one place to another, and also the density of population and whether a TD will have to meet his constituents singly or will have an opportunity of meeting them in groups of ten, 15, 20 or more. These are matters which have to be taken into consideration and which should be taken into consideration.

When this Bill becomes law and we get smaller, more manageable, constituencies, that will enable every TD to do a far better job of public relations between the Houses of the Oireachtas and the ordinary voter. That is the essential feature of parliamentary democracy, as I see it. If we tamper with that or make it more difficult to have that close link at all times, we are taking a very dangerous course.

(Cavan): In his concluding remarks, the Minister asked several times whether the members of the Opposition were prepared to deal with various constituencies and asked us to say whether, for example, I would be prepared to take on the representation of a constituency of Cavan-Monaghan. My answer is that I would, with the greatest pleasure. The Minister has asked a number of questions—whether various Members of the Dáil have studied the implications behind these two Bills. One thing is clear to me, that is that the Irish people have given a very considerable amount of thought and consideration to the contents of these two Bills and fully appreciate what is in them and what is behind them.

I would suggest that the Deputy keep to the amendment.

(Cavan): With the greatest respect, I will, but I must deal with the point made by the Minister.

I was dealing only with the size of constituencies and accessibility and with the words which the Deputy is proposing to delete.

(Cavan): The Minister has invited me to deal with individual constituencies. I want to make the case to the Minister and to the House that that is not necessary because the people of the country know exactly what is behind this “tolerance”, and what is behind the proposal to take into consideration, in drawing up constituencies, such natural features as mountains and rivers and accessibility, and all the rest of it. The people know, and have said in Limerick and in Wicklow that they know and fully appreciate that this is a manoeuvre of the Fianna Fáil Party to juggle with the Constitution, to rig the electoral system, to do away with a system that has proved fair and effective and to substitute for it a rigging device that will keep Fianna Fáil in power.

By how much would we have won but for that?

(Cavan): The fact is that the people have spoken clearly and distinctly in those two constituencies.

That is what we thought, too.

(Cavan): I am sorry that the defender of the voters in the mountains is leaving the House because I wanted to say a few things before he left.

I shall be back.

(Cavan): I want to say that the sooner these Bills are submitted to the people, the better. I am satisfied as to what the result will be. The Minister in making the case against the amendment seemed to be making the case that it is necessary that TDs should be very easily accessible to their constituents so that they can serve them at county council level.

I never mentioned the word.

(Cavan): I know the Minister did not mention the word but I cannot see what else he could mean. On the other hand, the Taoiseach, in introducing the Fourth Amendment providing for single member constituencies, seemed clearly to make the case that it was highly undesirable that Members of this House should be messengers——

It certainly is.

(Cavan):——that Members of this House should be called upon to get health cards, to get hospital bills reduced, and that sort of thing. The Taoiseach made that case for the Fourth Amendment. The Minister now seems to me to be making the opposite case, that it is necessary that people should be running with hat in hand to TDs for everything, that they should be led to believe that unless they do that, they will not get what they are clearly entitled to get.

In an effort to justify this measure, Deputy Booth spoke of the situation in France. It is very far-fetched to compare the situation or circumstances in France with the position here. There is no comparison, geographically, demographically or in any other way. Deputy Booth spoke about TDs becoming faceless men. In my experience of rural Ireland, every constituent of every constituency knows who his TD is and knows where to get him and how to get him. Under the present system of multi-seat constituencies, every TD keeps in close touch with his constituents if he wants to remain in Dáil Éireann.

There are many of them who do not know me.

(Cavan): The Deputy is a national joke but he is not such a joke at all. The only place where TDs, with the notable exception of Deputy Burke, may become faceless is the city of Dublin. On numerous occasions I have spoken to citizens of this city, some of whom I knew and some of whom I did not know but met casually, who could not tell who their TD is or in what constituency he resided.

There is one area where that does not apply.

(Cavan): County Dublin, I would say.

We need hardly name it.

(Cavan): We need hardly name it. Apart from that area, there are very many citizens of this city who could not identify their own constituency or their public representative.

They are not as demanding as others. They do not make such demands upon their representatives.

Will you look at Deputy Burke?

That man is a martyr—I know that.

Thank you very much.

(Cavan): The provision in the Bill the discussion of which we are now engaged in is to allot thousands and thousands more constituents to Dublin Deputies. As I have said, in rural Ireland, under the present system, the people know their constituency, know their Deputies and how to get at them and where to get them. The Deputies make very sure to keep in close touch with their constituents. Maybe the Minister thinks that this will not be necessary if he succeeds in introducing single-seat constituencies with, perhaps, huge majorities in some, which in turn will lend itself to lazy, inactive TDs sitting on large majorities as happens in Northern Ireland and England. If that is what the Minister has in mind, he need not worry his head about it because we are not going to have single-member constituencies.

Deputy Booth, in his effort to justify this dangerous provision of this Bill, told the House solemnly that we need not have any fears because the constituencies would be arranged by a tribunal consisting of six Members of this House, presided over by an independent member of the judiciary. I want to tell Deputy Booth that in the Third Amendment of the Constitution, there is not one thing about a commission.

No, the commission is there still.

(Cavan): Where? I want to tell Deputy Booth that if the Third Amendment is accepted by the people and if the Fourth Amendment is kicked out, there is not one iota——

When you had them together, you would not take them.

(Cavan):——about a commission. When a Deputy trained in the law like Deputy Booth puts up that sort of argument in favour of this provision in the Third Amendment and against our amendment, one can only believe he is not sincere or that he has not read the Third Amendment Bill or that he is only trying to waste the time of the House.

No, I do not follow the Fine Gael example.

(Cavan): Deputy Booth told us at considerable length—I tried to put him right but he persisted in going on—that we need not have any fear, that a judge would eventually delineate these constituencies. I want to put it on record that that just is not so, that the Government in drafting the Third Amendment Bill made very sure that they would not put anything about a commission or a judge in it, that they would reserve unto themselves and their majority in this House the right to draw up the constituencies.

You will be wanting it taken out of the Bill next.

(Cavan): They did that deliberately because they know perfectly well that there is no hope whatever of the Fourth Amendment being accepted and there is no hope of this being accepted.

What are you worrying about then?

(Cavan): It is my business to deal with measures as they are here and I am going to do it.


(Cavan): The Minister stated it was not possible to put the commission into the two Bills. I say that is just not so. There is nothing to prevent him putting it into them. There is nothing to prevent him writing it into the two Bills on the basis that, should the other not be accepted by the people, the provisions of the commission then stand. But he does not want the commission. He prefers, with this tolerance and with being allowed to take into consideration extraneous matters like those being taken into consideration here and which we are attempting to disregard, to retain to himself the right to rig the constituencies, the right to gerrymander, if and when the people kick out the other Bill.

Has the Deputy any evidence of that or is he just sticking his neck out?

(Cavan): When I see the commission in one Bill and do not see it in the other, when I see Deputy Booth thinking it is in both of them and when I hear him telling the people that the commission provisions of the Third Amendment Bill will safeguard them and that they need not worry, I know Deputy Booth is very anxious to get this thing through notwithstanding the fact that he has not read it.

It is because I read it I want to get it through.

(Cavan): When I sit down, I will welcome Deputy Booth standing up to explain to the House how, if the Fourth Amendment is rejected and the Third Amendment accepted, the people are going to have the benefit of a commission presided over by a judge in arranging the constituencies. I ask him to do it now.

Normally no reasonable person could object to the provision that somebody as impartial as it is possible to obtain should preside and decide on the extent and accessibility of constituencies, the need for securing convenient arrangements, representation and so on. It is a very reasonable sounding proposal. It would indeed be reasonable if it were not simply the sugar on the pill. It is the sugar on a very poisonous pill. The poison is the so-called tolerance, this proposal to disfranchise the Dublin city, and indeed to some extent, the Dublin county, voter.

Can we deal with this on the amendment, Sir?

When we dispose of the amendment.

This proposal of the Minister in regard to extent and accessibility is only put in in order to try to give a decent face to a very indecent and obnoxious political manoeuvre. I suppose there is no constituency more awkwardly placed in regard to the diversity of interests, and indeed, it could be said, to some extent of distance, as the constituency represented by my distinguished colleague here, who is overladen with letters, and by the Minister and myself. We have mountains, plains, villages, hamlets——

And long distances.

And long distances. The most highly populated working-class area in Ireland as well.

And a peninsula.

And an island.

Of course, the Minister would not know about the island. We have chapel gates. Near every chapel gate there is a cemetery, as my distinguished colleague very well knows. It would wear any man out trying to cover them all: the daily perusal of the evening papers to glean the sad news of burials——

A decade of the Rosary.

The demands made on the great charity of my distinguished colleague in this matter is a subject of marvel to all who know him. Long may he continue to exercise this great Christian virtue which is completely divorced, as we know, from the gathering of votes.

Does "one man, one vote" apply in the constituency at the moment, or is it not a fact that you are 45 per cent above the national average?

Quite true, and I am glad the Deputy mentioned that point. It is essential that there should be redistribution. We approach that on the basis of principle rather than expediency.

There is a good deal of argument in this House on the whole question being discussed here on this Bill which is determined by the interests of the individual Deputy, and not by the interests of the whole country, or the national good as it is often referred to, or by what is good policy for the country as a whole. It would suit several Deputies to have single-member constituencies, but that is not the point. The point is that they must address themselves to what is good for the whole country.

I feel that this provision is written into the Bill for a purpose, the purpose being, as I say, to shroud the main activities to which I have referred and to which apparently I am not permitted by the Chair to refer at any length. The provision implies a departure from the principle of one man, one vote, and that where it is convenient for representation, the commission may by this enactment be empowered to disregard the question of population. That is wrong. That is fundamentally wrong. If we are to have a democratic country, we must relate representation to people. If we depart from that principle, we depart from democracy.

Hear, hear: that is the point.

It must be related to people and not to the configuration of the country and the convenience of Deputies.

Nor to mathematical equality which is impossible as the Deputy well knows. I am entirely with the Deputy there. Contact between individual people and individual parliamentary representatives.

The Deputy went on to what was obviously to me a head-line-hunting ploy and talked about France, what was happening in France and the possibility of its happening here. It could not happen here. It could not happen here for the simple reason that Deputies of Dáil Éireann, to my knowledge over the period I have been a Member of the House, have been accessible to everyone who wished to see them. They are not faceless men in the sense that they might be in a country with a population of many millions. So the comparison is not only odious but it is ridiculous and impossible—the comparison of saying that a Deputy of Dáil Éireann could get so out of touch with his constituents as to be compared with, say, a Deputy of the French National Assembly.

There is a corrective for that. Particularly in the times in which we live, unlike days gone by when a Party tag was sufficient to usher a person in here, any Deputy who does not do his work properly, or make a fairly good stab at it, is for the road. There are many others on his heels to take up the task if he is not willing to do it. Indeed, there is a competitiveness about polities which, as we know, does not always produce the most desirable results, but it is there.

This provision is a danger I feel, and represents a possible infringement of the democratic principle which is vital in so far as the Labour Party are concerned, and one on which we intend to stand. We agree that before the next election there must be a redistribution of seats to correspond with the location of population and other changes that have occurred since the last redistribution. That must take place, but it must be determined on the basis of the number of people who will be casting votes, and not upon the number of cattle or sheep, or the shape of the country. The voter must be considered not inanimate objects or animals.

It is on that score only that I would quarrel with this provision. It contains the danger of tampering with the idea of popular representation as we know it. Certain proposals by the Minister which apparently he bulldozed through the Cabinet and which, in a moment of political somnolence, Fianna Fáil accepted in conclave, will be completely and utterly rejected by the people, and any honest man knows that. I have not heard one person sincerely advocating the abolition of PR. This applies to many people who I know are supporters of the Government in normal circumstances, but they will not vote for the abolition of PR.

In Limerick, 2,000 would not even use it. They voted against PR for a start.

In Limerick, 1,900 and 1,600 Fine Gael voters put Deputy O'Malley in here. He is here by dint of the benefit of 3,500 Fine Gael votes.

Not at all.

Yes at all, and I am sure that is what annoyed the Minister.

If there were a proper system, he would have had a majority of 6,000.

If there were a proper system?

A rational system.

(Cavan): If Taca meant anything, he would have got 25,000. Taca suffered a death blow in Limerick.

Like the small farmers.

We suffered a victory in Limerick.

(Cavan): If Taca and arrogance and money meant anything, he would have got 25,000.

We all won. Is that not a grand way to be?

(Cavan): I did not say we won. If Taca meant anything or stood for anything, he would have got 25,000.

We all won, but we got the seat.

I do not want to say anything about any Member of the House and particularly about someone who is related to the man who is dead and who was a friend of all of us.

Hear, hear.

Time will tell its own tale in regard to that man. As it was brought up, I just mentioned the fact that it was 3,500 of the conservative hard core——

There would have been more of yours if they were investigated.

I do not get that.

There would have been more non-transferable Labour Party votes.

The Minister sought an argument with the Attorney General and was grossly hurtful to his feelings. When he saw the way the ball was hopping, he lost his temper. I have nothing further to add at this stage. We will have other opportunities of giving our views.

(Cavan): Is Deputy Booth going to tell us about the commission?

I do not think I want to say anything more.

(Cavan): I thought the Deputy would explain how the commission will operate in the Third Amendment Bill, if the Fourth Amendment Bill goes down.

Cuireadh an cheist: "Go bhfanfaidh na focail a tarraigeadh a scriosadh", agus faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh léi.

Question: "That the words proposed to be deleted, stand", put and declared carried.
Tairgeadh an cheist: "Gurb é an Sceideal, mar a leasaíodh é, is Sceideal den Bhille".
Question proposed: "That the Schedule, as amended, be the Schedule to the Bill."

(Cavan): The object of the Schedule as it stands is to allow this one-sixth tolerance and to permit of the taking into consideration of matters of accessibility of constituencies and the need for securing convenient areas of representation, and subject to those considerations the main purpose of the Schedule is to give this very substantial tolerance of one-sixth. I want to say that the one-sixth tolerance is anti-democratic. It is designed to give some citizens in some parts of the country 40 per cent more Dáil representations than others who live in other districts.

How does the Deputy work out 40 per cent?

In the same way as they worked out that they won in Limerick.

(Cavan): If Deputy Booth wants to take part in this discussion, he should have read the Bill and considered its implications. Obviously, he has not done so. If he will keep quiet, I shall tell him.

That is what I was hoping for.

(Cavan): Under the Bill, 16,667 people in one area will be entitled to the Teachta Dála while, in another area, 23,333 persons may be required in order to have the Teachta Dála. A population of 116,667 persons could be represented by five Teachtaí Dála in one area.

Would the Deputy repeat that figure? It seemed to get jumbled up.

(Cavan): A population of 116,667 could be represented by five Teachtaí Dála in one area and by seven in another, giving the citizens in the second area 40 per cent greater representation and influence in legislation and in other matters than the citizens in the first area. I say that that is anti-democratic.

It is also crazy.

(Cavan): This undemocratic procedure is designed to increase still further Fianna Fáil control of the Dáil so that, in conjunction with the first-past-the-post voting system which they are trying to bring into operation, they will be able to secure a Dáil majority with a good deal less than 40 per cent of the popular vote.

It might be the Deputy's own Party. He is paying us a wonderful compliment.

It never occurred to him.

(Cavan): Deputy Booth has not studied the Bill and therefore he should keep quiet and try to listen to the arguments on it. In a number of counties in the west of Ireland, Fianna Fáil have barely half the number of seats. In a number of counties, they have 21 seats out of 29. Under the first-past-the-post system, they calculate they will secure three-fourths of these seats in defiance of the wishes of the electorate.

Who calculated it?

The Fine Gael professors who told them they won in Limerick.

(Cavan): Therefore, they want in conjunction with the first-past-the-post system——

We have a majority of two in Dublin.

(Cavan):——to give this 40 per cent more seats to those areas in proportion to the population. I say that that is not fair. In this way, they want to increase and inflate artificially their Dáil majority still further so that, with a good deal less than 40 per cent of the popular vote, they can control the Dáil. That is what they want to do. That is the object of this Bill.

What percentage have Fine Gael to get?

(Cavan): That is why the people are so violently against it.

Will Fine Gael get stuck on 20 per cent indefinitely?

(Cavan): I shall not listen to Deputy Booth or deal with the remarks of a man who thinks there is a commission in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. Until he satisfies himself about that and reads the Bill and sees that there is no provision for a commission in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill——

I never said there was.

He is too busy to read Bills.

(Cavan): The people know perfectly well what is behind this. That is why they have expressed their views against it so violently on the two occasions they got the opportunity to do so.

Three, was it not? What about Clare?

A long shadow was cast in Clare.

(Cavan): Did the Taoiseach, in opening the Limerick campaign, not ask the people to make it an issue? He must have been told off by one of the many Taoiseachs when he came back.

Did we lose Limerick?

You certainly should have. You lost thousands of votes there.

You lost the by-election, all the same. I read it in the papers.

Deputy Booth was in Canada. He should not believe all he reads in the papers. He is very young and innocent.

Who was it who came in here today?

(Cavan): The figures I have given are correct and accurate. They are figures that cannot be justified by the Government in introducing this measure. The two Bills together are undemocratic. This Bill does violence, and very great violence, to the system of one-man, one-vote. On those grounds I am violently against the Schedule to this Bill. It really discloses the real intention of the Fianna Fáil Party. They started off by having a package deal. They were driven away from that. They come in, then, and separate the two proposals——

The Deputy wants us to put them back again, as far as I can see.

Fine Gael never can make up their mind.

(Cavan): In the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, as a bit of encouragement, the Minister gives the commission, presided over by a High Court judge. Notwithstanding what Deputy Booth thinks, there is no provision for any commission in this Bill and the Government retain the right to fix the constituencies as they elect, with their majority in the present Dáil.

That will be an interesting operation.

(Cavan): That has to be done before the next election. Surely the Minister agrees he could write the commission into both Bills?

It would be a funny-looking Constitution that we would end up with.

(Cavan): It can be stated that it could operate only in the event of the other's not being passed.

Why does the Deputy not produce an amendment if he feels so badly about it?

(Cavan): It will be produced in due course.

The Deputy forgot about it until now.

(Cavan): I have made this point all along. That is, as I say, what discloses the Government's real intention. I think that is one of the reasons prompting public opinion to distrust the Government's proposals. It has driven the national newspapers — the free ones — to denounce this proposal which the Minister is now seeking to implement——

They denounce everything Fianna Fáil proposes.

(Cavan): The State-sponsored television service also pointed out——

What sort of television service did the Deputy call it?

(Cavan):——the dangers of this system until it was blacked out, until it came under the Minister's hatchet. So far as the people have got an opportunity they also have said what they thought about it. The sooner this matter gets to the people the better and the sooner the time of the Dáil is made available for other more vital matters, the better.

I want to comment on some of the statements made by Councillor Fitzpatrick.

Where does the Deputy think he is now?

Deputy Fitzpatrick —my apologies to the Deputy. He has claimed that we are certain to win in one-seat constituencies. I thank him for the great confidence he has in our Party——

(Cavan): You are capable of rigging the constituency under this measure.

We won six out of seven of them.

At a cost of £250,000.

Deputy Fitzpatrick should not be so pessimistic about his own Party's chances.

(Cavan): I am afraid of you rigging the constituencies and that is what I am against.

If we cannot count the votes better than you counted them in Limerick——

Does the Minister suggest the Limerick figures were wrong?

No, but the Fine Gael checkers put them ahead of Labour.

I am sorry for interrupting Deputy Burke.

Looking at it from a practical point of view, a Deputy in a single-seat constituency, fighting an election, would have a smaller constituency to deal with than a man in a multi-seat constituency such as that with which I and my colleagues, and others concerned who were not successful had to cope. You have to cross through the city and go from the Scalp to Glencullen, away up the mountains and when you get to the top you must come down again to the flat lands and go into Kilduff. The following day you start off for the mountains in a different direction up to Brittas.

There are parts of the Deputy's area where he was never seen.

A number of people do not know I am representing them at all.


Deputy Fitzpatrick said he would not mind representing Cavan and Monaghan. He would have my sympathy—he is a glutton for punishment——

(Cavan): The Deputy, having worked so hard, now wants to become a big, lazy Deputy.

The Deputy would not deal with Deputy Burke's correspondence in a month.

(Cavan): If he got a rigged constituency with a majority——


Deputy Fitzpatrick is an honourable man and I am sure would be well able to look after Monaghan and Cavan, but if he were ten times better, if he were in a multi-seat constituency he would be doing it in a general way, in the national Parliament, in county councils and other bodies of which he was a member. It is not possible for a man to be present in five places at the same time. Hardly a day passes that we have not four meetings, one perhaps in Brittas, one in Balbriggan——

(Cavan): How many funerals?

God help us, some of my friends die also. I believe it would be better for the people, for whom we are concerned, to have the single-seat constituency. Being a member of a national Party concerned with the welfare of all the people, we consider the people first and I think it would be wonderful for them if Deputies had smaller areas. One could know them all by their names.

As if the Deputy does not know them now.

You have to pretend to know them now.

When you meet them now, you will say: "How are you and how are all at home?" You will not say whether they are married or single and you will let yourself down if you ask the name. You will have had it. You know them in a general way and you know they go to Mass, say, in Bohernabreena or in Brittas—excuse me for laughing.

(Cavan): The Deputy's constituents would know him if they saw him now smiling and laughing——

If the Deputy wants to be personal, he may continue to do so. I suppose he, too, goes to some funerals to bury the dead——

(Cavan): I do not jeer at the constituents.

I am not jeering at them but I am talking facts and if I have brought humour into it, it is no harm and there is no jeering about it at all. Seriously, I think the multi-seat constituency is wrong for both people and Deputies and I would welcome the change even though it might mean my exit; I might not be returned. It is better for the people and for the Deputies and I believe it would be the right thing for the country.

I wanted to refer to some of the things that were said regarding the Schedule. First of all, I want to state that it appears our attempts to unconfuse the Opposition have not been very successful.

(Cavan): The Minister should take Deputy Booth for an hour.

Some people have said that one of the effects of these proposals might be to perform something of a rescue operation on the Fine Gael Party. I admit that there is nothing farther from our intentions in introducing these proposed amendments to the Constitution than that but, at the same time, the fact that they continue to be so confused about this whole issue, although we have leaned over backwards in trying to make matters clear to them, seems to indicate at least that such a rescue operation is pretty urgently required in their case.

This question that has been raised of one-man, one-vote is, I agree, relevant to the proposals we are making. and if the proposals had come before the House in the form we originally intended, that is, as one proposition, then I could understand there being quite an amount of discussion on the principle of one-man, one-vote on the joint proposal. It is not this Bill that deals with that proposition; it is in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution that we are proposing to the people that they should establish for the first time in this country the principle of one-man, one-vote, and that for the first time they should establish a system here in which every voter will be treated in the same way.

Here in this Bill we are dealing with a completely different thing, and the question of one-man, one-vote does not arise. The provision in the Constitution requires that the representation of a constituency will be related to population, not to voters, and the proportion of population to voters is not by any means a constant factor throughout the country as a whole. I demonstrated by the figures here already that the proportion of population to voters in the constituency of Dublin North-West, for instance, is something under 51 per cent, whereas in Donegal South-West the proportion of voters to population is over 67 per cent. Therefore, if we continue with the present requirements of the Constitution, and if the revision of constituencies that Deputy Dunne in particular has been demanding is to be carried out, the result must be that a vote in South-West Donegal will be around 33 per cent less effective in electing a Deputy than in Dublin North-West. It is the maintenance of that position that Opposition Parties are trying to ensure. As I said, it is to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution that this principle is applicable.

We agreed to separate our proposals with regard to the electoral system into two distinct provisions in response to the demands of the Opposition who claimed that to have to consider this whole complicated matter in one Bill was confusing to them, although, in fact, in the referendum of 1959 there was a provision making it clear that regard should be had to these factors in drawing up a scheme of constituencies, and the only essential difference at that time was that there was not a definite maximum percentage deviation from the national average specified then. The Opposition did not find it confusing at that time, but they apparently found it confusing this time, and so we agreed to bring these two proposals forward separately.

It becomes more and more difficult for me to understand exactly why the Opposition wanted these proposals separately. Apparently they intend to oppose both of them, and that being so, it appears that any confusion that may arise in the minds of their own supporters will be created by themselves. Naturally I took it that when they wanted these things separated, they intended to support this amendment, and I will show from quotations from speeches made by members of the Opposition Parties in the debate on the revision of constituencies in 1961 that that is a very reasonable assumption for anybody to make with regard to both the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party. I certainly could see no other reason for the desire to have separate proposals than the intention of the Opposition Parties to support at least this one.

It is quite clear from the debate on the 1961 revision of constituencies that this proposal, the Third Amendment of the Constitution, is in direct response to the demands of the two Opposition Parties. In dealing with the revision of constituencies that was before the House in 1961 and resulted from the finding of the High Court that the revision of constituencies made in 1959 was in contravention of the Constitution, Deputy Corish, who is now the Leader of the Labour Party—he was not at that time—said at column 213, Volume 188 of the Official Report of 12th April, 1961:

We have a peculiar situation in one county, in Kildare, which under the present proposal embodies three county council areas—and the Minister and Deputies know that as far as Parliamentary members are concerned, not alone do Deputies have to make representations in respect of the work of the Government but to a very large extent the work of local authorities also—and it seems that in these constituencies that have to deal with two or three or four local authorities, the work of the Deputies will be very difficult indeed.

Deputy Corish obviously considered that the difficulty that was placed on Deputies, and presumably also on their constituents, by taking portions of one county and adding them to another county in order to achieve mathematical accuracy in regard to the proportion of population, was a matter of some importance in 1961. Now, as Deputy Dunne says, the situation disclosed by the census obviously indicates that the present scheme of constituencies is not in accordance with the constitutional requirements and, therefore, in order to conform with the Constitution, a further revision must be made. Deputy Corish and every other Deputy has had made available to him all the information which is necessary in order to form a rough opinion, certainly, as to what must happen to each constituency throughout the country if this revision of constituencies is made now in accordance with the present requirements of the Constitution as interpreted by the High Court.

It must be clear to anybody who has had sufficient interest in this matter to investigate what must happen, that this type of thing that happened in County Kildare, to which Deputy Corish took exception in 1961, must be repeated on a much wider scale throughout the length and breadth of the country on this occasion unless the change which we propose is made. Indeed, it will be quite obvious to anybody who makes such an investigation that the change we are proposing will not be sufficient to avoid quite an amount of this, at any rate. However, it will be quite clear to anybody who makes that kind of examination of the position that what happened in this way in 1961 will be as nothing compared with what must happen now.

Deputy Corish in 1961 was followed by Deputy Donnellan, and at column 214, he said:

It is regrettable that this Bill had to be introduced because of a decision of the High Court.

Later on, in the same column, he said:

I do not welcome this Bill; I believe it is the death-knell of rural Ireland.

Further down again he said.

If we are to develop along that line—I believe we are; as Deputy Dillon said and I may repeat it, it is nothing personal to me—representation in the near future will belong to the few cities we have and, quoting the words of a gentleman I heard speaking last Saturday night, "to a dwindling population". If that happens, it will be a bad day for the country and we are actually heading in that direction now.

At column 215 Deputy Donnellan continued:

I suppose the Minister cannot help this situation. I want to be fair to him and I must say I believe that the 1959 Act that was challenged in the High Court was fairer. I supported it. I believed it was the right thing. Some people thought otherwise. The solicitors and the lawyers came into it. The courts reached a decision much to the disadvantage of rural Ireland and its people. Of course, with Fianna Fáil, the Constitution is almighty. According to them, it is the Gospel. They have an opportunity now of seeing what their Constitution is costing the people of rural Ireland. The Taoiseach was not man enough to submit the matter to a referendum so that the people might be given an opportunity of changing the relevant Article in the Constitution and getting a fair crack of the whip. There is no credit due to those who brought the action in the High Court. If the day comes that Dáil Éireann will be influenced by a completely city mentality, it will be a bad day for Ireland and for her people.

I suppose this is the best Bill the Government can bring in in the circumstances. It is as near as possible to representation for every 20,000. What will be the position if this wrong is permitted to continue? What will be the fate of the people living in the rural areas? Will the majority here be Deputies from Dublin city and Cork city and the other cities? I regret the Taoiseach did not put this by way of referendum to the people.

To rectify what was described as a wrong the position now is that we are attempting to rectify that wrong. I do not know how anybody——

Deputy Donnellan was expressing his own personal view.

Others expressed their views too and I will put them on record for the benefit of members of Fine Gael and the Labour Party. How can it be possible for anybody to try to interpret the minds of the Opposition? When we do what was demanded in 1961, we did not do it immediately after that general election, we did not do it after the next general election, but we propose to do it now because when the census returns for 1966 were published, Deputy Dunne was quick to see that a revision was called for and demanded it——

(Cavan): Immediately you got an overall majority.

We acceded to the demand to rectify what was described as this wrong or this injustice to the people. Now we find that the Opposition are actuated by a different principle, by the simple principle of opposition, that the duty of an Opposition is to oppose everything brought forward by a Fianna Fáil Government. The fact that they are already on record as having demanded it is something of no concern. Deputy Donnellan concluded by saying:

My remarks have nothing personal in them. I protest as a public representative. I think this Bill is a step in the wrong direction. It will deprive the people in the rural areas of adequate representation. Remember, it is only a start; day after day and year after year, worse will probably come. The precedent has been established. It will be impossible to undo what is being done here. Another Government tomorrow would probably do the same thing.

Now another Government is faced with a requirement to do something infinitely worse than what had to be done in 1961 and they are proposing, as was demanded by the Opposition, to ask the people to amend the Constitution to give a very small amount of scope to the Government, or the commission, in drawing up constituencies to avoid perpetrating this type of injustice on the people and on their public representatives.

Deputy Norton, who was then Leader of the Labour Party, also spoke in this debate and at column 226 of the same volume he said:

The courts have decided that the last Electoral Bill was ultra vires the Constitution; consequently some other Bill had to be introduced and this is the Bill we got. It is worth the time of the House to dwell for a few moments on the situation in which we have been landed by the Constitution, by the courts and by all the legal people who advised the Government. The courts' decision is that the last Bill which gave a seat in constituencies with fewer than 20,000 of a population per seat was ultra vires the Constitution. That has been the position in many constituencies since the Constitution was passed over 20 years ago.

Deputy Norton might have added also that it also was the position prior to the passing of the Constitution.

At the end of the same column Deputy Norton said:

...our legislation in the past has been based upon the assumption that if we did not get the 20,000 in each constituency, it was good enough to get it in the country as a whole.

That was the assumption on which the legislation was based. At column 230, Deputy Norton said:

I think it is crazy to do what is being done with some constituencies. I represent the constituency of Kildare which is known everywhere as a clearly defined territorial area. In order to box the compass in connection with the results at the next election, Kildare has a chunk of south Meath clamped on to it at one end, and an extreme corner of Westmeath at another end. Now to the constituency which consists of the County of Kildare, a chunk of south Meath and a chunk of Westmeath are being added, and it will be all grouped under the heading of Kildare, although that substantial portion will not in fact be Kildare, but portion of two other counties. The only effect of that is effectively to disfranchise people who live in south Meath and people who live in Long-ford and Westmeath, because of the fact that those areas are not big enough, or not numerically strong enough, to ensure representation for the counties of which they are a natural part. They will be, as it were, just small lungs of Kildare. I think that is a most undesirable way of trying to create constituencies.

This was the then Leader of the Labour Party. Anybody trying to interpret the mind of the Labour Party with regard to this requirement would have been justified in assuming that that opinion—which was not contradicted by any other member of the Labour Party, but was in fact reinforced by other members who spoke—to the effect that this requirement of transferring people from one county to another in order to achieve mathematical accuracy of population per Deputy, but not voters to Deputies, was to the effect that this was disfranchising the people concerned. How could anybody be expected to think that, when a much more widespread operation is required in 1968, the Labour Party would look upon what they held to be disfranchising the people concerned in 1961 as now vindicating the democratic rights of the people in 1968.

I cannot see how anybody could be expected to assume that the minds of Opposition Deputies had changed so much in the meantime—it is quite clear that Deputy Norton in 1961 was speaking with a sense of outrage at the injustice that had, in fact, been perpetrated on these people—and that now the Opposition's approach based purely and simply on the principle that opposition means that one opposes and that, therefore, their task is to oppose everything put forward by the Government.

At the end of column 230, Deputy Norton said:

...It is obviously desirable that we should endeavour to get parliamentary representation to run side by side with local representation. Deputies know that in the course of their duties they have, inevitably, to make representations to local authorities when the business of their constituents requires them to do so. That is not such a difficult job if you have to make representations to the local authority for the area you represent, but if two or three other local authorities are added to the main local authority, a situation will arise which will become unmanageable, and especially unmanageable with regard to the virtues we were told 12 or 18 months ago the small single-member constituency had.

I do not blame the Government for introducing a Bill to deal with this situation. A Bill had to be introduced. That was inevitable after the decision of the High Court, but it is quite clear that the Constitution which imposes upon us the responsibilities now clearly defined by the Court, is a Constitution which should be amended...

That statement by the Leader of the Labour Party at the time could reasonably be taken as being the authoritative opinion of the Labour Party in 1961 in relation to the comparatively small amount of mutilation of county boundaries that had to take place then. Now, when it is quite clear that the amount of mutilation that will have to take place will be much more widespread and much more extensive, we suddenly find that what was disfranchising the people in 1961 is, in 1968, a vindication of their democratic rights. We are not proposing to go nearly as far as was suggested. We are not asking the Dáil or the people to agree to allowing either the Government or a commission to avoid the breaching of administrative boundaries, as is the position in most other democracies of which I know. We are not even asking that. We are suggesting simply that there should be a very small amount of scope given to avoid doing these anomalous and unjust things, where possible. We are asking for a very small amount of scope as compared with what is the position in other democracies.

Further on, at column 231, Deputy Norton said:

...I think the decision of the judge compelling us to butcher these constituencies in this way is not a satisfactory solution to the whole question of the delineation of constituencies.

Someone ought to have a new look at the situation created by the legal decision, created by the necessity of making Parliament work, making the constituencies work and making them sufficiently homogeneous to ensure that the system of Parliamentary representation so reached will continue to give satisfactory results locally to the electorate and satisfactory results from the standpoint of having the constituencies adequately represented in Parliament to ensure that their viewpoint will be put adequately and without impairment on the floor of this House.

The only criticism we could reasonably, I think, have expected of this proposal was that we were not going nearly far enough and that what we were asking the people to write into the Constitution would not be sufficient to safeguard the democratic rights of the people as a whole.

Deputy Norton concluded:

...If we pass this Bill in this most unsatisfactory position we shall leave large portions of the population virtually disfranchised. Some effort should be made to get out the dead timber in the Constitution in that respect and to give us, at least for the subsequent general election, a method of parliamentary general election which will conform to modern conditions of Parliamentary representation and independent thinking.

We were told on that occasion that the result of complying with the decision of the High Court was to leave large portions of the population virtually disfranchised. Now the Opposition want us to continue that position and have this virtual disfranchisement carried out on a much wider scale. Instead of what Deputy Norton described as conforming to modern conditions of Parliamentary representation and independent thinking, this new proposition is put forward by the Opposition that strict mathematical accuracy of the proportion of population per Deputy is the only consideration that matters—population per Deputy, mark you, not voters per Deputy.

Deputy Desmond also spoke at great length in respect of the situation in another part of the country. At column 250 he said:

Where do the people in West Waterford stand now? To whom will they send their inquiries? Is it to a person representing them who may live in Tipperary? Will they expect him to contact the local authority office in Waterford in order to get fair play for them?

Now, when this must happen on a much wider scale, it is considered of no importance.

At column 251 Deputy Desmond said:

It was amazing this evening to listen to some Fianna Fáil members bemoaning the terrible position of rural Ireland because of the decision of the High Court. I had hoped that in view of the decision of the High Court, the Taoiseach would move for an amendment of the Constitution, where necessary, to give protection to rural Ireland. Apparently, neither the Taoiseach nor the Minister was prepared to do that. There is no use in the backbenchers of Fianna Fáil now complaining that the people of rural Ireland are being robbed of their rights when, in actual fact, the only people who could restore those rights to them and improve on them, if they wished, were the Taoiseach, the Minister for Local Government, the Fianna Fáil Government and Party. They refused to do so.

Surely there is a clear demand from the Labour Party for something more than we are asking the people to do here? Surely there is a clear indication of the mind of the Labour Party that what was required by the Constitution, as interpreted by the High Court—I do not dispute the correctness of that interpretation—was an injustice on the people and a clear demand that the people should be given an opportunity of remedying a situation which allows such an injustice to be perpetrated on them? This must happen on a much wider scale now. We did not respond to the appeals to have a referendum to amend the Constitution immediately after the general election of 1961 because the scheme of constituencies had been established; the general election had been held on those constituencies and we were prepared to allow that situation to continue in the belief that it would continue for 12 years.

It did not seem urgent to change it because the situation had been established and presumably would continue for 12 years; and another general election, since then, was fought on the same scheme of constituencies. However, since then we have had published the census returns of 1966 and Deputy Dunne and other Deputies have drawn our attention to the fact that the scheme of constituencies at present does not comply with the requirements of the Constitution and that therefore there is a requirement on the Government to revise the constituencies again.

In face of the fact that what happened in 1961 will be something of no account compared with what must happen now, we have decided to respond to the demands of the Opposition and give the people an opportunity of amending the provision in the Constitution that requires this injustice to be carried on. Deputy T. Lynch also spoke on this matter in April, 1961.

Lord rest his soul.

At column 257 he is reported:

I am glad I voted against the Constitution. I never thought it was any good and the High Court has proved that it was no good. It was obvious to the Government what they could have done and they would not do it. They could have attempted to amend the Constitution. They attempted to amend it with their referendum in order to keep themselves in office.

He went on:

In Waterford, we have three members representing this butchered constituency. There is the whole of the Nire valley and that part of the west of Waterford, Ballyduff and down the Blackwater valley to Lismore, Cappoquin and Tallow, traditional Waterford places which have been turned over to County Tipperary. It is a scandalous state of affairs that this enormous slice of a constituency has been taken away.

Deputy Kyne also spoke on the same aspect of the 1961 revision of the constituencies. At column 269 he is reported:

The people of Lismore, Cappoquin, Tallow, Four-Mile-Water, Ballymacarbury, Villierstown, Aglish and Templemichael are as rural as the people in Donegal and they are to be deprived of their right to a Waterford Deputy. They are to be transferred to South Tipperary. Deputy Loughman or any other Deputy from South Tipperary will never be able to represent them. The natural alignment is with their own county.

Further on he said:

What will happen when these people from Tallow to within six miles of my own town, a distance of 30 miles, are transferred into South Tipperary? If a South Tipperary representative, whether he be Labour, Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, wants to raise some matter in connection with county affairs or the health services, he will have to write to the County Manager in Dungarvan. If he wants to raise matters in connection with, say, the free milk scheme or the assisted footwear scheme, the South Tipperary Deputy will have no right to interfere. All he can do is write a letter. He is not likely to come down from Cashel, Clonmel or wherever he may be in Tipperary to attend a meeting of the county council in Dungarvan in order to help them out. I know the fate of isolated areas like that: they get a visit just prior to the election. But when these people were within the confines of their natural constituency of Waterford, they were taken care of.

Deputy Manley also spoke on that revision of the constituencies. At column 311, he is reported:

There is one particularly regrettable feature in the chopping up of some counties. We cannot complain on that score in Cork, but some counties have been ruthlessly chopped in order to get the necessary proportion. The county is the administrative unit so far as local authority goes. There is invariably a certain rivalry between counties. There is a certain clanishness in counties, to the extent very often that people in one county will not vote for someone from a neighbouring county or another county. That is a grave danger in this Bill. I would much prefer to cut down representation and leave the county as the unit. I would regard that as more practicable in the long run.

I think it can be said that this Bill is going some of the way to meeting the point of view expressed by all those Deputies. Therefore, the only criticism we might reasonably have expected was that we were not going nearly far enough to give reasonable scope to avoid perpetuating this type of injustice.

On that occasion also, Deputy Coburn is reported at column 313:

Coming from County Louth, I should like to assure the Minister that, whilst I sympathise with his position to a certain extent, the people in County Louth area affected, an area which will be put into County Monaghan, are very resentful of the intentions of this Bill.

"Very resentful," mind you, of what the present Opposition describe as vindicating their democratic rights. Deputy Coburn at that time interpreted the feeling of his constituents as a feeling of resentment because the Constitution required something like 3.3 Deputies to represent County Louth and there was not any way of providing 0.3 of a Deputy. County Monaghan was entitled to 2.7 Deputies and the only way it could be achieved was that people should be transferred from Louth to Monaghan. I think Deputy Coburn was accurate when he described the people of that part of Louth as being very resentful of the provisions of the Bill.

He continued:

Various opinions were expressed by both Fianna Fáil supporters and Fine Gael supporters. They all resent being put into a separate county, being detached from their existing native county of Louth and put into Monaghan.

Earlier this evening, Deputy Faulkner pointed out that County Louth was a constituency which had enjoyed all down the years since the foundation of this State its own natural boundaries. Admittedly, there were years ago two constituencies in that small county, North and South Louth, but, as a county, its boundaries were always respected. I think it is a very retrograde step for the Minister at this stage to tamper with our boundaries.

I do not know how there was a gain for democracy in what had to happen in Louth and Monaghan in 1961 because prior to that there were three Deputies elected for Monaghan and three for Louth. All that was achieved by this exercise in theoretical democracy was that the people in that area of Louth had to be taken out of the Louth constituency and had to be compelled to be represented by Deputies who were concerned with County Monaghan rather than—as I believe they desired themselves—to continue to vote for Deputies and be represented by Deputies who were concerned with the County of Louth.

Now, what Deputy Donegan wants is that this position should continue. This requirement in the Constitution will probably require, or may probably result in this area of County Louth being no longer required to top up the constituency of Monaghan or the joint constituency of Cavan-Monaghan as will probably be the ultimate result. They may be returned to Louth and the position will be that from which we started in 1961—that there will be sufficient people in Louth to be represented by more than three Deputies: that now there will be 3.4 Deputies required instead of 3.3 Deputies, and I do not know whether any Deputy opposite can put forward a way in which 0.4 of a Deputy extra can be allocated to Louth.

We cannot discover any way of doing that so that what will be required is that the people who were transferred to County Monaghan in 1961 and who were, as Deputy Coburn and Deputy Faulkner agreed, resentful of that transfer but who have, I suppose, in the meantime become to a certain extent acclimatised to the transfer must now come back. Possibly they will welcome the change back to their own county of Louth but that must be compensated for, and another block of County Louth people must be expelled from the county in order to make up for that. Otherwise they would be deprived of their democratic right. It would take fractionally more people in County Louth to be represented by a Deputy than it would take in some other constituencies, and in order to vindicate those people's democratic right, Deputy Donegan is demanding that these people should be expelled from Louth and transferred to County Meath or some other place.

County Monaghan.

No, they have to come back from Monaghan. Deputy Tully has just come in.

Before I start he is telling me what I am doing.

That is what Deputy Donegan is doing.

Which of them is he going to get rid of?

He is demanding that the present situation which requires that the whole of the people of Louth will not vote for candidates going forward to represent the county of Louth must continue.

As soon as the Minister is finished with that particularly stupid brief, I shall deal with that.

The boundaries of County Louth must be breached if this amendment is not carried both by the Dáil and by the people. The constitutional position at present is that the population of County Louth is too many for three seats and too few for four seats.

Admittedly there is at least one other way—possibly there are a number of other ways—in which this could be dealt with, but there is no way in which Louth can be kept as a complete county. It could be dealt with by transferring part of County Meath——

Do that please. It would be a nice cushy one for me.

——to make it a four-seat constituency. One of those two things must happen.

Deputy Coburn went on to say:

I think it is fraught with great danger in so far as there will be much confusion. More serious still is the danger that most people may not vote in future elections to the same extent when they discover that they will not have the chance to vote for a county man. They will be expected to vote for a man who is not one of their own.

These were the opinions that were expressed by Opposition Deputies on the occasion of the revision of constituencies that had to be carried out in 1961 to take cognisance of the fact that the High Court had decided that the revision of constituencies of 1959, which was unanimously accepted by this House, was in contravention of the constitutional requirements. It was only when it became obvious that this must happen on a much wider scale, affecting practically every county and every constituency in the country, when we found that this was imminent that the Government decided to comply with the request of the two Opposition Parties and moved to have the Constitution amended in a very slight way in order to give some scope to avoid this type of anomaly and this type of injustice, to avoid what was described as butchery and as savage dismemberment by members of the Opposition in 1961.

And correctly described.

The only possible criticism we could have expected was that our proposals in this regard were far too modest and that they would not be sufficient to avoid this type of injustice.

The question of what is the position in other countries has been raised here. In the United Kingdom, there was a tolerance provided for for a number of years of 25 per cent above or 25 per cent below the national average per member, but this was abandoned as being too restrictive, as not giving sufficient scope for the avoidance of the type of injustice we have been discussing here. I think that, in view of the fact that the Opposition are complaining about this terrible injustice of allowing a maximum deviation of one-sixth in clearly defined circumstances, it is desirable to give some examples of the position in Britain. I propose to compare like with like, not to compare a constituency in the Highlands of Scotland with a constituency in the city of London.

First of all, I should like to give an example of the difference between two London boroughs. In the constituency of Wandsworth-Putney, the electorate is 69,870, whereas in Bermondsey it is 33,811, that is, a difference of 207 per cent between one London borough and another. In other boroughs outside of the city of London, we have Ports-mouth-Langstone with 96,166 and Birmingham-Ladywood with 25,294, a difference of 380 per cent. In regard to English counties the constituency of Billericay (Essex) had an electorate of 102,198, whereas in Leominster (Herefordshire) the figure is 38,880, which is a difference of 263 per cent. With regard to Welsh boroughs, the figure for Newport is 68,131 and the figure for Rhonnda West is 31,189, a difference of 218 per cent. With regard to Welsh counties, in Monmouth, the figure is 64,356 and in Merioneth, the figure is 25,395 which is a difference of 253 per cent. With regard to Scottish burghs, the constituency of Glasgow Cathcart has a figure of 66,266 while Kelvingrove has 24,483, a difference of 271 per cent. In Scottish counties, Dunbartonshire East has 79,031 while the Western Isles have 22,940, a difference of 345 per cent.

In Australia, a tolerance of 20 per cent above or below the number of electors per member is allowed in elections to the House of Representatives, that is, electors, not population as it is here. In Western Germany, the tolerance allowed is 33? per cent of the number of electors. In Canada, a tolerance of 25 per cent above or below their population per member in each province is allowed in determining constituencies for the purpose of elections to the House of Commons. In France, there are deviations from minus 60 per cent to plus 46 per cent of the national average. Compared with all these countries, we are only asking for a maximum deviation of one-sixth, a maximum which can only be exercised in the circumstances specified in the Bill and which would obviously not be possible to apply to the country as a whole, even if the Government desired to do so.

Now, I think it is obvious from the debate that Opposition Deputies have not, in fact, considered the implications of what must happen if this amendment to the Constitution we are proposing is not adopted. I think that is quite obvious. Despite the fact that they had all-night sessions and despite the fact that apparently it caused a considerable amount of wrangling to arrive at the decision, the decision appears to have been quite clearly based on the fact that "Fianna Fáil proposed this; we are the Opposition and we must oppose it."

You are the only man who did not run for Taoiseach.

There were two candidates for Taoiseach. A decision was come to and as a result of that decision we and the Taoiseach accomplished something which has never been accomplished before—we won six by-elections out of seven.

Because they fell in the right places. Come to Louth and we will show you.

When you die, we will go down. We accomplished this because we are a united Party.

You had to take No. 2 and No. 3 down in Limerick the other day. You had to take this despite the fact that that is what Fianna Fáil want to do away with.

The maximum effort of a Coalition was used in Limerick. Despite the fact that the main Opposition Party said so much about this, almost 20 per cent did not transfer their votes at all and 16 per cent transferred them to Fianna Fáil.

There were 6,700 that went to Labour.

Yes. As soon as all this has died down, we will get back to the position, as it was in Cork. where at least 40 per cent of the Fine Gael votes are not transferable and I would say a small percentage transferable to us.

Quite incorrect.

I know Deputy Donegan did not want to interrupt me but he did. As I said, it is quite obvious that the Opposition Deputies have not looked into what must happen now if this amendment is not passed. Although it might be justifiable for me to leave them in their ignorance, I think in all the circumstances it is desirable that they should have some idea of what must result if the perverse action of the Opposition to oppose this amendment should by any chance happen to be successful.

Seeing that your statement is so long-winded, will you tell us why you did not appeal to the Supreme Court?

I have no reason whatever to question the decision of the High Court. I have no reason to believe that the learned judge who gave this decision——

Why did you not appeal to the Supreme Court?

Why throw away good money after bad?

You are prepared to throw away £100,000 on this referendum.

He was only one judge.

The Supreme Court would not cost £100,000 like the referendum.

Will Deputies please allow the Minister to continue?

I have no reason to believe that the learned judge who at the behest of the Fine Gael Party interpreted——

Surely it is not right for the Minister to say that a judge decided a case at the behest of a political Party? Surely it is not proper to allow the Minister to say that a High Court judge decided a case at the behest of the Fine Gael Party?

The Chair feels that the Minister has made no reflection on the judge.

It was the learned judge, Mr. Budd, who made that decision. It was the Fine Gael Party who used the subterfuge of Dr. O'Donovan to have this matter decided.

Why did you not take it to the Supreme Court?

It was at the request of the Fine Gael Party.

Dr. O'Donovan obtained that decision and that action was taken at the request of the Fine Gael Party.

Now your objection is a reflection on the Fine Gael Party rather than on the judge.

There was subterfuge by the Fine Gael Party to bring this before the judge.

There was not.

They objected to the result of it later when the result became apparent. Deputy Murphy wants to know why we did not appeal to the Supreme Court. I would like to point out that the demand of the Opposition Parties at the time, and particularly the Labour Party, was not for an appeal to the Supreme Court but for an appeal to the people. The demand was that the Constitution should be amended and that the Government were lacking in their duty to justice and to the people of the country in not going for an amendment of the Constitution straight away.

That is not an answer to my question.

Now we are in fact complying with the demand of the two Opposition Parties that was made here in 1961. We are only partially doing so, I agree, because we have proposed this rather severe restriction of maximum deviation of one-sixth. That will not allow us as a Government or will not allow the commission, if it is a commission that will be doing it, to avoid this type of injustice that so enraged members of the Opposition in 1961. I fully agree that those things which had to happen were substantial injustices to the people concerned.

I agree there was an injustice on the people of Louth to transfer them to Monaghan, that there was an injustice on the people of Waterford to transfer them to South Tipperary, that there was an injustice on the people of Meath and Westmeath to transfer them to Kildare, on the people of Wexford to transfer them to Carlow-Kilkenny, on Roscommon to transfer them to Mayo and the dismemberment of County Leitrim was a substantial injustice. It is because this will have to be done all over the country on this occasion that we are now complying with the request of the Opposition in 1961 in giving the people an opportunity to amend the Constitution so as to ensure that this injustice will not have to be done, at least there will be a certain amount of scope in avoiding carrying out injustice such as this in the future.

As I said, I think I should make the Opposition aware of the type of thing that will have to be done if this proposal is not adopted. I do not think there is any better place to start than that part of the country towards which this is alleged to be directed, that is, the west of Ireland. First of all, I think I should deal with the situation in Donegal.

I think you are filibustering now.

I am not.

It is quite obvious you are.

Deputies on the opposite side of the House have not taken the trouble to examine the figures which were given to them here.

There is misrepresentation in this House. The Chair usually replies, to some Members in any case.

Deputy Murphy should cease interrupting.

They just know they are opposing something that has been proposed by Fianna Fáil and that is the function of the Opposition. I think it is desirable that if Deputy Murphy intends to vote against this, he should have some idea of what he is voting for, rather than that he should come in here as his colleagues did in 1961, and then start moaning about the death verdict of rural Ireland and the injustice being done of part of one county being transferred to another county with which they have no affinity, such as the transfer of a portion of West Cork to the county of Kerry, which is something that would be very likely to happen if this amendment is not enacted by the people.

In the constituency of North-East Donegal, the population, according to the 1966 census which is the relevant figure in so far as the Constitution at present is concerned, is 55,649 and the number of voters on the register is 34,781. We have interpreted Judge Budd's decision as meaning that there can be a deviation of five per cent in the delineation.

You have interpreted this as the important point. That is where your whole case falls down.

A revision based on that has been found to be in accordance with the Constitution by the Supreme Court.

Any other one can be, too.

Despite the fact that Deputy Ryan says this is a wrong interpretation, I think the fact that constituencies based on that interpretation have been found to be constitutional makes that a reasonable assessment. On that basis the minimum population that can justify three seats is 57,084 and North-East Donegal has a population, as I said, of 55,649, so that on the basis of the present Constitution that constituency must be revised. The Opposition have been maintaining that their opposition to this proposed amendment to the Constitution is based on their concern to ensure that a vote in every part of the country will have exactly the same effect if it is cast only in electing a Deputy as a vote cast in any other part of the country When we examine the position with regard to North-East Donegal, we find that the national average of voters per Deputy is 11,899 and that on the basis of the same percentage deviation from the national average, a voting strength of 33,912 would justify the retention of the three seats. In this constituency of North-East Donegal, there is more than that number of voters. There are 34,781, so that if the principle is to be that a vote should have the same value in all parts of the country, there is no need to interfere with the constituency of North-East Donegal. It is purely on the basis of equating new-born babies, whether they belong to the particular constituency or not, with adult voters that the requirement of changing that constituency arises.

In regard to South-West Donegal, the population in accordance with the 1966 Census is 52,900, which is substantially below the minimum of 57,084 which is required for three seats, but the number of voters on the register in 1967-68 is 35,837. That is substantially above the minimum number required for three seats which should be 33,912. According to the interpretation of the Constitution established by the High Court, South-West Donegal is 4,184 short of the population for three seats but it is almost 2,000 in excess of the number of voters required for three seats.

If representation is to be based on the theory that, irrespective of considerations such as administrative boundaries and physical features, a vote should have the same effect in electing a Deputy in any part of the country, there is no change required in Donegal. In the county the population is 108,549 and the number of voters on the register is 70,618. The minimum population required for six seats is 114,168. The number of voters required is 67,824 so that obviously based on voters per Deputy the county of Dongal is entitled to six seats. In the present position, County Donegal is 5,619 short of the population required for six seats and is 3,409 in excess of the maximum population for five seats. To comply with the present constitutional requirements, the county of Donegal as a whole must be adjusted by transferring at least 5,619 people from Leitrim and possibly Sligo to County Donegal, and leaving it a six-seat constituency or two three-seat constituencies. Otherwise, 3,409 of the population of Donegal must be transferred out of the county to another constituency which would then be a constituency comprising three counties, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal and the remainder of Donegal would be left as a single five-seat constituency.

Deputy Harte is apparently one of the Opposition Deputies who did make some kind of superficial study in his area. I quote from the Dáil Debates of 3rd April, 1968, volume 233, column No.1722. He said:

We have at the present time two constituencies, each sending three Deputies to the House, and if common sense is to be observed and if the Constitution is to be honoured, it should be one constituency sending back five Deputies. This will be conceded by anybody with limited intelligence who devotes any time to the political scene in Donegal.

I have shown that on the basis of the number of voters in Donegal the position is that there is an excess of voters in the county over and above what is required to maintain its present representation, and Deputy Harte who has apparently looked into the figures demands that County Donegal should be a single constituency returning five Deputies to the Dáil instead of the present six, although, if he had examined the figures in any way closely, he would have appreciated that even that cannot be done; that it is also necessary, in order that that can be done, to transfer at least 3,409 of Deputy O'Donnell's constituents out of Donegal and into the constituency of Sligo-Leitrim and this, of course, is not required by any democratic principle, either real or imaginary, because the number of voters per Deputy in Donegal as it exists at present is not out of line with the national average of voters per Deputy.

I cannot help wondering why it is that Deputy Harte is so anxious, first of all, to deprive Donegal of one of its representatives and, secondly, to maintain a situation which, as he says, "if common sense is to be observed", requires the transference of a substantial number of his colleague Deputy O'Donnell's constituents out of the constituency and into another constituency. I wonder is it that there are actually more candidates in the Fine Gael Party for transference to Dublin constituencies than those we know of already. It is fairly widely accepted, I think, that Deputy Lindsay has decided to contest a constituency in the Dublin area——

It is not the Irish Press the Minister is reading?

——and also the two Deputies O'Higgins. I wonder if Deputy O'Donnell is also thinking of embarking on this trek to Dublin. However, there is no reason why this change should have to be made. County Donegal, on the basis of voters, is fully entitled to its present representation.

As you can see, this unnecessary mutilation of Donegal, if this amendment is not carried, will affect the position in the constituency of Sligo/ Leitrim and the consequential changes in Sligo/Leitrim will affect other Connacht counties right down to Clare. Obviously, the situation in Clare itself will affect the situation in Galway.

It might be more appropriate for me to go to the other extremity of that area in order to demonstrate exactly what must happen now if the Opposition have their way and if this position is to continue and also to demonstrate that a lot of what must happen is not required even by this theory that, irrespective of such considerations as natural features and administrative boundaries, you must have mathematical accuracy of representation in every constituency.

In County Clare, the position is that the population, according to the 1966 Census, is 73,597. The minimum number of population required for four seats in accordance with the present requirements of the Constitution is 76,112. The number of voters, according to the Register of 1967-68, is 48,182 and the minimum number of voters required for four seats is 45,216. So that, on the basis of voters, the position in Clare is that the proportion of voters per Deputy is actually above the national average but the present Constitution requires that Clare cannot retain its present representation because it is short on the grounds of population.

I must say that I can understand the Fine Gael Party's desire to deprive County Clare of its due representation. I can understand that all right. It is not based on any democratic principle. It is based on the fact that this happens to be an area that gives Fianna Fáil a substantial majority. The result of this is that either there must be a substantial transfer of population from County Clare, probably to Galway, and the county's representation reduced to three or else there must be a substantial transfer of population from County Galway and the representation left at four; but this is not necessitated by the requirement that a vote in that area should have the same power with regard to electing a Deputy as a vote has in other parts of the country because the number of voters per Deputy in Clare is, in fact, over the national average.

These two adjustments that would be required at the northern and southern ends of the Province of Connacht are unjustifiable because of the fact that both Donegal and Clare are fully entitled to their present representation on the basis of the number of voters in these constituencies; but, because of these adjustments that must take place at the southern and northern ends of the Province of Connacht, the situation in the actual Province of Connacht itself will be made even worse than it would otherwise be, and as I have said, unjustifiably so.

Take the present constituency of Sligo-Leitrim. The population, according to the 1966 Census, is 67,892 and the number of voters, according to the 1967-68 Register, is 42,863. That means that that constituency as it stands, in accordance with the present requirements of the Constitution, is 8,220 short of the minimum population required for its present four seats and, as I have shown, if this amendment is not made, Sligo-Leitrim must be involved in an adjustment with Donegal. One possibility is—and it may be a probability—that some of the population of this constituency will have to be transferred to Donegal and the number must be at least 5,619. Even if it was possible to transfer just the exact number that would be required, this would leave Sligo-Leitrim requiring at least 13,839. The population of the part of Leitrim that is at present attached to Roscommon is 13,943, but in fact, it would not be possible to deal with the situation by transferring all of those people from the present constituency of Roscommon to the new constituency of Sligo-Leitrim because Roscommon would still require some Leitrim population in order to retain three seats. Therefore, it seems to me that the more likely thing to happen would be that Sligo-Leitrim would be reduced to three seats and, of course, it would be a completely different constituency from what it is at present because portion of it would probably have gone into Donegal.

The resulting position as far as County Leitrim is concerned is fairly obvious: that the county as a county, as far as Dáil representation is concerned, would completely disappear because now part of it would be with Donegal, part with Sligo and part with Roscommon and possibly there might have to be another part of it tacked on to Cavan. When this happened on a much smaller scale in 1961 the Opposition, as far as I could see, were unanimous in describing it as "butchery." as a "savage dismemberment" and as disfranchising the people concerned and certainly as an injustice to the people and to their public representatives and as an infringement of democracy. It is because we in the Government accept that view that we have decided to give the people the opportunity of allowing a reasonable amount of scope in avoiding that kind of injustice.

The next county is the county of Roscommon which, as I said already, has part of County Leitrim tacked on to it. In addition to that, the ridiculous things that have to be done to comply with the present requirements necessitated in 1961 that part of Roscommon had to be added on to Mayo in order to comply with this requirement. The population of the present constituency of Roscommon is 67,605. It has four seats. At present the minimum population required for four seats is 76,112. Obviously, as I said, this part of the present county of Leitrim tacked on to Roscommon must be returned to the constituency of Sligo-Leitrim, even to retain three seats in that constituency.

There are at present 2,566 Roscommon people attached to Mayo and 3,943 Leitrim people attached to Roscommon. It is obvious if the proposed change is not made, the biggest part of this Leitrim population must be returned to the constituency of Sligo-Leitrim. Roscommon county itself has a population of 56,228 and, as the minimum required for three seats is 57,084, Roscommon county even if it gets back the population at present attached to Mayo will still require some area of County Leitrim to justify three seats.

With regard to the County Mayo, the total population of the county is 115,547. The number of voters on the 1967-68 register is 71,316. It is obvious if this proposed change is not made, Mayo must lose a seat. In fact, I think it is probably likely it will have to lose a seat whether the change is made or not. Because of the situation arising unnecessarily in Donegal, it may well be that the only way of dealing with the Sligo-Leitrim-Roscommon situation will be that some of the population in Mayo will have to be transferred to one of those constituencies. If we were to try to arrange that the whole of the Province of Connacht would retain its maximum entitlement under the present Constitution of 20 seats as against the present 23 seats, it would be necessary to deal in a very detailed way with the division of population per constituency. In fact, Mayo would also very probably have to be adjusted at the other end of the county with County Galway.

I have mentioned that Galway would also be affected by the situation that unnecessarily arises in Clare. The county of Galway as a whole at present has eight seats. If the proposed change in the Constitution is not made, it is short of the minimum population for this number of seats. The total population of County Galway is 148,340 while the minimum population required for eight seats is 152,224. Obviously, if this change is not made, there will have to be this adjustment between Galway and Clare and probably between Galway and Mayo as well.

All this type of thing was found to be very objectionable by the Opposition Parties in 1961. But now, when it must happen on a much wider scale, apparently it is found not to be objectionable at all. It has been alleged that in putting forward this proposed amendment of the Constitution the Government are interested in retaining for the west of Ireland representation to which it is not entitled on the basis of equality of the effect of a vote in different parts of the country. I think it would be appropriate to examine the position in this western area as a whole—Donegal, Clare and the province of Connacht—and to compare it with the situation in the area which it is being alleged is being victimised by this proposal, that is, the Dublin area.

The total population of the province of Connacht is 401,950. As I said the population of Donegal is 108,549 and the population of Clare is 73,597, so that the total population of this area is 584,096. In accordance with the present requirements of the Constitution the maximum representation that could be accorded for this area, which has 33 seats at present, is 30 seats, that is, a reduction of three. But the number of voters in this area is 365,740 and on the basis of the national average of voters per Deputy instead of this artificial and meaningless requirement of the average of population per Deputy, this area would be entitled to 32 seats and not 30. So that the most that even the most rigid application of this alleged principle would require would be a reduction of one seat in that area rather than three seats.

The Opposition campaign against this amendment of the Constitution means in fact that they are insisting on this area losing three seats instead of the maximum of one that is required even on the basis of the most rigid application of this so-called democratic principle which in fact, as the Opposition Deputies pointed out so forcefully in 1961, is the negation of democracy rather than what it is represented to be. As I pointed out, on this fairer basis, Donegal and Clare need not lose a seat at all and there would be a total reduction of one seat in the Province of Connacht. It would not be necessary at least to breach the provincial boundaries at the northern and southern extremity of the province. It must be quite clear that that is probably just exactly what would happen if the amendment we propose were carried. Obviously by adhering to the guidelines laid down in the Bill, it would not be possible to exercise a maximum deviation below the national average in all rural parts of the country and a maximum deviation above the national average in the urban areas as is being alleged. That could be challenged in the courts and such an attempt would be held to be unconstitutional.

So the most that will result from what is proposed in this Bill is that a vote in the western areas will have the same effect in electing a Deputy as it would have in urban areas. What we propose will do no more than enable this amount of justice to be done to the people in the western areas. As I say, that would be much nearer to this alleged principle of one man, one vote. For some reason or another the Opposition have apparently deliberately decided to try to deprive the west of Ireland of representation to which it is entitled even on the basis of the most rigid interpretation of any democratic principle.

It is alleged that for some reason the Government artificially want to maintain the representation of the western areas. Opposition Deputies have been putting forward the allegation that this is because it is there that Fianna Fáil get their majority, and that an attempt is being made to victimise the Dublin areas because we have a minority there. In fact, that is not the position at all. In the province of Connacht, we have a majority of only one, whereas in the Dublin city and county area, we have a majority of two. It is alleged that this proposal will victimise the people of Dublin city and county, so I think the next most appropriate area for us to examine would be the Dublin area and compare it with the western area which must lose three seats if the Opposition succeed in their attempt to retain the present position.

According to the 1966 census, Dublin city and county have a population of 795,047 people. The number of voters is 446,781. On the basis of the present Constitution this area must get at least 38 seats instead of the present 34 seats. As I have shown, the western area must be reduced from 33 seats to 30. This means that if the proposed change is not made there must be an increase of at least four seats in the Dublin area, but on the basis of the national average of voters as distinct from the total population, which includes children, whether at home, in institutions or hospitals or otherwise, the minimum number of seats is 36, not 38. So, the present constitutional provision requires that there should be two more seats than are justified by even the most rigid interpretation of this alleged principle of one man, one vote in this area, and it requires that there be a reduction of two more in the western area than would be required by the same rigid interpretation of this so-called principle.

Even if it were possible to exercise the maximum deviation of one-sixth of the national average of the population over the whole of the Dublin area there would have to be at least 35 seats allocated to the area. Even if this were possible it would be at least nearer to the number of 36 which would be based on the strict application of the principle of equality of the effect of a vote in all parts of the country.

As I have pointed out, because of the lines laid down to guide the exercise of this deviation of one-sixth above or below the national average, obviously it would not be possible to operate that uniformly throughout the country as a whole. It is extremely unlikely that it would be possible to apply that maximum figure over the whole of the Dublin area. With at least eight or nine different constituencies in the Dublin area as a whole it would not be practicable to arrange them in such a way as to have the maximum number per Deputy in each. Even if it were possible to do that——

Why is it not possible?

——it would be necessary to have a minimum population per Deputy in practically every constituency in the rural parts of the country, so that this cannot happen. If this amendment which we propose is passed it will certainly do no more than reduce the increase in the number of Deputies to be elected in the Dublin area to two instead of four. That would be the case and if the amendment is not passed this is exactly what would be required if the representation were to be based on voters rather than on total population. In other words, both as regards the western area which it is alleged we are attempting to favour, and which the Opposition obviously are trying to deprive of its due representation, and as regards the Dublin area which it is being alleged that we are attempting to victimise, it is obvious that this amendment would in fact result at most in doing bare justice to both of those areas.

There is no reason whatever for the deliberate and cold-blooded attempt made by the Opposition Parties—both of them—to divide the people on the basis of the urban population versus the rural population. What we propose will, in fact, result in a much closer approximation to equating the value of votes in various parts of the country than the present position. There must be some reason why the Opposition Parties have departed from the stand they took in 1961 and decided instead to try to maintain a position——

We are afraid of gerrymandering.

Go to the country.

We know these Deputies are not concerned——

Put it to the people and stop the talk.

Although this information is available Deputy Belton has not looked at it. Deputy Belton thinks his job here is to oppose everything put forward by Fianna Fáil irrespective of its rights or wrongs. It is because Deputy Belton and his colleagues have refused to investigate the position for themselves that I am making them aware of what the position will be.

The Minister is filibustering.

I am not.

Put it to the vote.

We want to get out and meet the people and defeat you.

You do not want to know the facts, and you do not want the people to know the facts. I want to ensure that the facts will be available in the printed Official Report of the Dáil Debates. Let me say that we also intend to ensure that the people will know the facts. We intend to ensure that the people of Donegal will know that for some reason or other Deputy Harte wants to export at least 3,500 of Deputy O'Donnell's constituents out of Deputy O'Donnell's constituency and reduce the representation of Donegal to five, and that this is completely unnecessary because, on the basis of voters, Donegal is fully entitled to its present number of Deputies.

I know that you would like to have this decided before the people know these things. I can assure you that the people will know these things before they vote. I am making sure now that Deputy Fitzpatrick and Deputy P. Belton and their colleagues will also have this information available to them so that they cannot plead ignorance. I have also made sure that they will know the opinions their Parties expressed in 1961 about the injustice of the present Constitutional requirements.

We shall not lose any seats.

You said it was required—remember that.

A judge of the High Court said it was required.

We will tell you what he said. We have it here. The Minister is filibustering. He is just trying to put in time.

It was admitted that the judge of the High Court required these things to be done.

Is the Minister accepting that the composition of the present Dáil is unconstitutional seeing that it was elected in 1965?

Ask your colleague, Deputy S. Dunne, that question.

It is the Minister's job, as a Minister of State, to reply to that question—not Deputy Dunne's job.

I do not have to assert it at all. Deputy Dunne has been maintaining that that is the position. He pointed to the fact that the constituency he represents would be entitled, in accordance with the present Constitutional requirements, to seven seats instead of five. He pointed to the provision of the Constitution which requires that the proportion of population per Deputy shall at any time be the same, as far as it is practical, in every constituency. He has pointed to the fact that that is not the position at present and deduced from that that there is now a legal requirement on the Government to revise the constituencies so as to bring them into conformity with the present requirements of the Constitution. I am not a Constitutional lawyer but I cannot dispute the figures Deputy Dunne has produced from the Census of Population. It is a fact that only 14 of the 38 constituencies at present conform to the requirements of the Constitution as interpreted by the High Court.

Is it the position that this Dáil is unconstitutional? Are we to assume from the Minister's statement that Deputy Dunne's statements are infallible when he speaks of constitutional requirements or is the Minister handing over to Deputy Dunne?

I should certainly hesitate to say that Deputy Dunne's statements are infallible. I do not think anybody could ever accuse me of saying that. However, I say that the figures on which you are required by the Constitution to base the scheme of constituencies are the figures produced by the preceding Census of Population and that Deputy Dunne has accurately read the figures for his constituency from the Census of Population. That is all I said.

I have admitted that, in present circumstances, there are only 14 constituencies that do conform to the constitutional requirements, that is, on the basis of the interpretation we put on the decision of the Judge of the High Court which, according to the Opposition, is far too liberal an interpretation. If we take Deputy Ryan's interpretation, there is probably no constituency at all in the whole country that complies with the requirements of the Constitution and a full revision would be required. In fact, as we know, the carrying-out of a revision, involving, as it does, transfers of population from one constituency to another, means that the 14 constituencies, within the most liberal interpretation of the High Court's decision, could not be left undisturbed either.

The next constituency I should like to deal with is that of Cavan. According to the 1966 census, the population of Cavan is 54,022. The minimum population required for three seats, in accordance with the most liberal interpretation of the High Court's decision, is 57,084. According to the 1967-68 Register, the number of voters in Cavan is 34,301. The minimum number of voters, applying the same standard, required for three seats is 33,912. Therefore, in accordance with the High Court's decision, the population of Cavan is too low for three seats and therefore Cavan must be dealt with in a manner similar to the way other constituencies and other counties had to be dealt with in 1961.

(Cavan): The Minister is misquoting the judgment. The judgment said that 17 per cent was too high. It said absolutely nothing between 17 and four per cent.

The judge indicated that a deviation of 1,000 above or below would be acceptable. The revision of constituencies, arising out of that 1961 decision, was based on the interpretation that a deviation of 1,000, which is five per cent, was acceptable and was held to be constitutional. It is on that that I am basing it. If we apply the same standards to voters then the county and constituency of Cavan— which coincide but which will not, if Deputy Fitzpatrick has his way, coincide in future—has sufficient voters for three seats because there are 34,000 odd voters whereas the minimum required is 33,912. I have shown then that this rigid application of their interpretation of the principle of "one-man one-vote"—which is something completely different from what the Opposition pretend—does not require the integrity of Cavan to be breached in any way. It does not require any mutilation of the boundaries of the constituency. It does not require butchering or savage dismemberment. It does not require the disfranchisement or dismemberment of part of the population of Cavan or part of the population of Leitrim or Monaghan in order to do this.

But Deputy Fitzpatrick, because he interprets it to be his duty, as a member of the Opposition, to oppose everything put forward by Fianna Fáil, is insisting on having the constituency of Cavan unnecessarily disrupted purely and simply because Fianna Fáil are proposing that there should be a certain minimum——

(Cavan): Are proposing to gerrymander it. Have a commission.

——amount of scope available either to the Government or a commission to avoid doing such unnecessary and unjust things as interfering with the County of Cavan. As reported at column 1546 of the Official Report, volume 233, No. 11, he said:

I conclude on the note on which I started and that is that the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill is an attack on the fundamental principle of one man, one vote...

Although I have shown that there are sufficient voters in the County of Cavan to justify its present representation of three seats, Deputy Fitzpatrick, for the perverse reason that he wants to oppose Fianna Fáil, wants to insist that Cavan will not retain its present representation but that it would either be combined with County Monaghan to form a five-seat constituency or that it will be topped up by an addition from County Leitrim or County Longford or from some other county or else that Cavan itself will be utilised for this purpose of topping up a constituency here and a constituency there or a constituency somewhere else.

(Cavan): I want to make sure that it will not be gerrymandered.

The Deputy wants to insist that this be done. I am pointing out that what we are asking for is an amendment of the Constitution so that it will not be necessary to do that——

To gerrymander.

Deputy Fitzpatrick wants to insist that Cavan will suffer the same type of butchery, the same type of savage dismemberment that we were told that Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Waterford, Wexford, Mayo, Louth, Roscommon and Leitrim suffered in 1961.

(Cavan): When was Westmeath a constituency on its own?

Westmeath is a county on its own; I did not say "the constituency of Westmeath"; I said Longford-Westmeath.

(Cavan): I am asking the Minister to say when Westmeath was a constituency on its own.

Let the Deputy find that out for himself. I am not interested because I am not saying it was a constituency but I am saying that Westmeath had to be butchered in this way to comply with this ridiculous requirement of the Constitution. We are asking for a certain amount of scope to avoid that sort of thing, to avoid disrupting Cavan unnecessarily and Deputy Fitzpatrick refuses to give it. I have pointed out that the amount of scope we are seeking is much less than is already available in every other democracy that I know of.

In dealing with Cavan I referred to the situation in Monaghan. In the constituency of Monaghan there are at present 53,325 people according to the 1966 census but 7,593 of them are resident in the County of Louth. The minimum population requirement, in accordance with our interpretation of the High Court decision for three seats, is, as I said, 57,084. Obviously, then there must be an adjustment in the County of Monaghan. The population of the county, as distinct from the constituency, is 45,732. It will be immediately apparent to Deputy Fitzpatrick that if the population of Cavan and Monaghan are added together there will be sufficient for a five-seat constituency and therefore there will be no longer any justification for the retention of the 7,593 people from County Louth in a different province.


We would gain a seat but you would lose.

Perhaps you would: but this is only one possibility. Perhaps you would gain a seat and perhaps that is the only consideration that operates in the Deputy's mind.

It is the only reason that you want to gerrymander.

That is the only reason operating in Deputy Belton's mind but before this is decided Deputy Fitzpatrick will have to explain to his constituents why he wants this to happen although there are sufficient voters in County Cavan to justify its retaining its integrity as a separate county and electing its own Deputies to the Dáil.

(Cavan): Hold the Referendum tomorrow.

We shall hold it; do not worry about that.


(Cavan): When? In about five years.

When all the Deputies opposite know exactly what they are doing we shall hold it and when we make sure that the people of the country know what Deputy Fitzpatrick, Deputy Harte and the other Deputies are doing also.

There is a halo around your head at the moment as a result of Limerick.

Discussion of the position arising in Monaghan naturally leads us to County Louth which was described by a Fine Gael Deputy as having a large portion of its population disfranchised by the transfer of this portion of the population to Monaghan and which must now be further disturbed. What may possibly happen if Cavan and Monaghan are combined to form a five-seat constituency is that the 7,593 people at present in Monaghan may return to County Louth but then we shall be back where we started in Louth because that would leave the total population of Louth——

On a point of order—in the course of the Minister's statement over the past two hours he has again and again repeated himself and I think that under Standing Orders repetition is not allowed. In this case I think the Leas-Cheann Comhairle should rule on this question which I have put to him.

I have not come to Louth at all yet.

The Minister has repeated himself.

The Deputy is afraid the people will become informed.

I think Deputy Donegan is just as much entitled to have this information about what he is doing as Deputy Fitzpatrick is.

(Cavan): Deputy Donegan and his people are getting on very well in Louth.

I would be afraid he would not know what he is doing.


For the Deputy's information the Minister is dealing with this constituency by constituency.

Not alone have I not dealt with County Louth at all but I have not dealt with Leinster. I am only starting on Leinster now. I have dealt only with part of the province of Munster——

The Minister is using up time while members of the Government are at a reception in Dublin Castle. He is filibustering.

What annoys Deputy Murphy is that I am going in the wrong direction and that it will take me so long to get to West Cork. He may have to wait some time before he can hear about West Cork, particularly in view of the interruptions——

Members of the Government are attending a reception in Dublin Castle and the Minister for Local Government——

So are members of the Deputy's own Party.

I am performing a very important function.

Keeping this away from the people.

In reply to Parliamentary questions by Deputy Gerard Collins I supplied the figures which would enable Deputies to find these things out for themselves.

(Cavan): Then it is absolutely wasting time since the Minister admits it is already on record.

If Opposition Deputies were not so lazy and so unconcerned with what they do here in the Dáil they would have found all this out for themselves but they have not done so.

How does the Minister know we have not?

Opposition Deputies lead very simple lives. All they have to decide in regard to any measure coming before the House, whether it is a question of putting drunken drivers off the road——

The less said about putting drunken drivers off the road by the Minister the better. He should keep quiet about that. There were half a dozen of them at the count the other day, the principal people there, who were allowed out scott free and they had to come to Limerick and work for Fianna Fáil.

Let us deal with this——

Yes, drunken drivers, the head men at the count.

Opposition Deputies have a very simple existence. Whether the proposal is to try to protect the public from people driving cars while under the influence of alcohol, or whether it is to provide a more rational system of election, all the Opposition have to ask is: "Is it proposed by Fianna Fáil? If so, we oppose it." Therefore, they do not take the trouble to examine the position and find out exactly what they are trying to ensure must happen. If they did they would know that what they protested about vehemently in 1961 will be as nothing compared to the injustice, butchery, savage dismemberment of constituencies and disfranchisement of the people that must occur if this amendment is not passed.

And the loss of Fianna Fáil seats. That is the only reason for the proposal.

I have confined myself to being purely factual in regard to these constituencies. I have not attempted to forecast what would be the result for the different Parties, but if Deputy Belton insists that I go back over all this and give my ideas as to what would be the result for different Parties, I can do it. I would have County Louth dealt with by now only for Deputy Belton. I do not think that the question as to what would be the result of one system or another for the different political Parties is relevant, but I can appreciate it is the only thing that comes into Deputy Belton's mind. That does not say that I should waste the time of the House by making forecasts as to what would happen——

It is the outcome of the election that is troubling Fianna Fáil.

The only reason for this proposal is that they are afraid they will lose seats.

I admit that a lot of people have been saying that these proposals were the last hope of Fine Gael.

They must have said it over there.

It will take considerably more than this to rescue Fine Gael, or is it Cumann na nGeadheal?

The Minister is like Santa Claus or St. Vincent de Paul, giving away gifts.

Fine Gael policy is returning to the old discredited Cumann na nGaedheal policy. Are they going to revert to the name as well? Are they going to respond to the urgings of the tigers in the tank or the lions or whatever the inhabitants of the Fine Gael jungle are, to change the name of the Party?

We welcome the youth in our Party.

In addition to going back to the discredited Cumann na nGaedheal policy, will they go back to the name? As I pointed out, in 1961 it was discovered that this huge county of Louth had too high a population for three seats and too low a population for four seats. Therefore, in the interests of democracy, according to the Opposition now in 1968, a substantial proportion of the population of County Louth had to be transferred to the constituency of County Monaghan.

With a view to helping towards the election of the Minister for Transport and Power.

He would have been defeated in Longford-Westmeath and you made a safe seat in Monaghan by bringing in parts of Louth.

I do not know if the Deputies opposite even know that there was a revision of constituencies made in 1959, that it was challenged in the High Court and that the decision given was to the effect that the revision of constituencies was in conflict with the terms of the Constitution. The Judge of the High Court made this decision to the effect that the proportion of the population per Deputy must be the same throughout the country. It was this interpretation of the Constitution that required that part of the population of County Louth had to be transferred to the constituency of Monaghan, because the number of people in County Louth, in accordance with the census figures then available, divided by the number of Deputies in County Louth was in excess of the national average of population per Deputy in the country as a whole. This meant, in accordance with this constitutional requirement, that the people of Louth were being deprived of their democratic rights by having only three Deputies; in fact, they were entitled to 3.3 Deputies. As I have said, the Government at the time did not know of any way in which the people of Louth could elect .3 of a Deputy, and therefore it was necessary to shift some of the population out of Louth. Deputies for County Louth at that time complained about it. They said the people were resentful, and I think they interpreted the people's feelings fairly well. As I have pointed out, now there is a probability that the rectifying —if I can use the word, though I do not consider it rectifying—of the situation in Monaghan, in other words, complying with the Constitution in regard to Monaghan, will give rise to a situation in which this addition of population from County Louth will no longer be necessary to maintain the representation of Monaghan. Therefore, it seems obvious that since there is nowhere else that these people can go except to Louth, unless we utilise them to top up West Cork——

(Cavan): You would be quite capable of it.

——they will go back to County Louth. Then we will have the position that the total population of County Louth will again be back with the county, and that population is 69,519. In accordance with the most liberal interpretation of the judge's decision, the maximum population allowed for three seats would be 63,084 so that if Louth is to continue as a three-seat constituency, there must be a transference of 6,435 people at least out of the county to some other constituency. Now Deputy Donegan may think that this will be welcomed with open arms by the people at the other end of the county who will have to be transferred out of it, but his former colleague Deputy Coburn, described this kind of thing in a different kind of way completely. It would appear that these people would have to be transferred to the County Meath and personally I do not believe that these 6,435 people at least would consider that they had gained in any way in their democratic rights by being transferred from County Louth to County Meath. Maybe they would or maybe they would not be resentful as Deputy Coburn said they were in 1961, but somehow I think they would not be in any way upset if they were left in Louth and left with their three representatives and they would not feel in any way deprived of their democratic rights because it would take marginally more people in Louth to elect a Deputy than in some other constituency.

My own belief is they would prefer that situation rather than that they should be changed into another county in which they may only be in temporary residence as in the case of those who had to be transferred to Monaghan on the last occasion. Another way in which the situation in Louth could be dealt with would be by transferring population to the County Louth and making it a four-seat constituency instead of a three-seat constituency. The minimum population required for four seats would require a transfer of at least 6,593 people to County Louth. These would naturally come from the county of Meath so that unless the amendment we propose is accepted it is obvious that we must have this adjustment carried out between Louth and Meath in exchange for the return of the population who were so unjustly transferred from Louth to Monaghan in 1961. I believe that the people in Louth would prefer to wait with their present representation until such time as the population in the county itself justified an extra seat. The people who were transferred to Monaghan felt they were victimised and now that they have presumably become partly acclimatised to that position they find they must come back but there must be a corresponding adjustment made with Meath.

That brings me to Meath, the constituency of Meath, which is not the County of Meath, because portion of the county is attached to Kildare. The constituency has, according to the 1966 census, a population of 60,830—and the minimum population that is required for three seats is 57,084, in accordance with the present constitutional requirement, so that if it were possible to deal with the constituency in isolation Meath need not be touched. It is one of these 14 constituencies that still comply with the requirements of the Constitutional interpretation by the High Court. But, as I have shown, because of the situation in Louth, which arises because of the situation in Monaghan and which in turn arises partly because of the situation in Cavan, because of this chain of events, the constituency of Meath, which is within the constitutional requirements at present, must be disturbed and I use the mild word "disturbed" rather than the more lurid words used by the Opposition to describe this type of operation. It must be disturbed either by receiving these 6,435 people from Louth or by donating 6,593 people to Louth in order to make Louth a four-seat constituency. I do not know which of these solutions would be adopted but whatever solution is adopted it would leave the County Meath requiring further adjustment either to retain the three seats in one event or to justify four seats in the other event. Of course, the number of ways in which the County Meath could be so adjusted are very numerous. It borders on a number of different counties and the problem could conceivably be involved in some kind of re-arrangement with Cavan, or it could be involved in an adjustment with North County Dublin, or it might be more appropriate to take cognisance of the fact that already a substantial portion of the population of Meath is attached to the constituency of Kildare.

The further you go from the origin of all this unnecessary mutilation of constituencies the more possible solutions to the problem there are. As I say, there are many ways in which the situation in Meath could be dealt with. If Louth is dealt with by transferring 6,435 people to Meath, then Meath would have too high a population for three seats and too low a population for four seats. Even if the population of Meath which is at present attached to Kildare was returned that would still be the position and there would have to be some further adjustment with Dublin, Westmeath or Cavan in order to justify a four-seat constituency. Alternatively there could be a further transfer of population from Meath to leave it a three-seat constituency. On the other hand, if Louth was dealt with by transferring population from Meath and becoming a four-seat constituency then the return of the population in Meath at present attached to Kildare would be sufficient to leave Meath as a three-seat constituency. However, as in the case of all these artificial arrangements which would be required if the proposed change in the Constitution is not made, the solution is likely to require a further change with every census and with resulting frustration both for the population of the county concerned, for the public representatives and the political Party organisations, that is those which have them. I suppose as far as the public representatives are concerned I should qualify it by saying those who do their job. Now, as we have seen the situation that unnecessarily arises in the constituency of Meath is likely to affect the present constituency of Kildare, and the population of the present constituency of Kildare, according to the 1966 Census, is 79,998. Here, again, this is another constituency which is one of the 14 that complies with the present requirements of the Constitution but, because of events elsewhere, it must be disturbed. Of that population, there are 6,493 located in the administrative county of Meath and 7,106 located within the administrative county of Westmeath. Although the constituency of Kildare itself does not require any change, being within the permitted range of population for four seats, it must be changed because of this rigid requirement in the Constitution which the Opposition Parties want to retain.

As I said, there are a number of ways in which this change could be made. First of all, the county of Kildare itself has too high a population for three seats and too low a population for four seats. That is why it had to be dealt with in 1961 by adding these portions of Meath and Westmeath to form a four-seat constituency. The problem could have been dealt with by transferring this artificial excess population from Kildare and leaving it a three-seat constituency. Another way in which it could have been dealt with, as an alternative to this adjustment with Meath and Westmeath, was that it could have been adjusted with, say, County Dublin.

The necessity to change the present constituency arises from two different circumstances: I have dealt with the Cavan-Monaghan situation and shown how that affects Kildare through Louth and Meath. In addition to that, the constituency of Longford-Westmeath is now too low in population for four Deputies. This could be dealt with by the return of some, or all, of the Westmeath population from Kildare so that if, as seems likely, both the Meath and Westmeath additions to County Kildare have to go, one to make Meath a four-seat constituency and the other to justify the retention of four seats in the constituency of Longford-Westmeath, then the position in the county of Kildare would have to be dealt with by transferring the excess population for three seats in Kildare to some constituency in County Dublin or else by transferring the requisite numbers to make up a four-seat constituency in Kildare from some parts of County Dublin.

It could conceivably be dealt with also by joining Kildare with Carlow to form a five-seat constituency. This would be quite feasible because the county of Kilkenny on its own could conceivably become a three-seat constituency. That is another possibility with regard to Kildare. Of course, it could also be dealt with in various different ways by additions from Dublin, Wicklow, Carlow and any other county that happens to touch on it.

As I said, it appears any adjustment will be effective only until the next census and this proposed Third Amendment of the Constitution will, among other things, make this type of chopping and changing after each census unnecessary. It will, too, make it possible for the people who vote, the Party organisations and Deputies to get a reasonable chance to know one another and to know their constituencies as against the chaotic position that obtains at present because of the too frequent changes inevitable under present Constitutional requirements.

All these adjustments in the part of the province of Leinster that I have so far dealt with are completely unnecessary. The total number of Deputies that would be elected in the area would be the same as at present, but there would be marginal differences in the number of voters electing Deputies in the different constituencies and, as I said, I do not think these voters would consider themselves in any way victimised by the fact that it took marginally more votes in, say, County Louth to elect a Deputy than in County Monaghan or in the adjoining counties of Longford-Westmeath. I do not think there is any reason whatsoever to insist on this rigid re-alignment of constituencies after each census, as is required by the present interpretation of the Constitution and I agree with the views expressed by the Opposition Deputies in their discussion of the revision of constituencies in 1961.

I suppose I should really deal with Dublin now, because we have travelled all around it, but the number of permutations and combinations that could be exercised in the Dublin area are so numerous that I would not inflict them on Deputy Fitzpatrick, who has waited here so long and, in doing so, absorbed so much information that he could have collated himself if he had been sufficiently interested to investigate what opposition to this proposal implies. Dublin could be dealt with in so many different ways that it is better to leave it to the imagination. Obviously it could be utilised in remedying the situation that will result in Meath and Kildare, in addition to re-arrangements within the county and city of Dublin itself. I will, therefore, skip over the Dublin area and go on to Carlow-Kilkenny because, as I have pointed out, one of the possible solutions to the unnecessary problem which the present Constitutional requirement creates in Kildare would be that Carlow and Kildare could be combined to form a five-seat constituency. The population would just be sufficient and this might, in fact, prove to be the most feasible thing to do. That could involve Kilkenny in becoming a three-seat constituency and that, in turn, could involve the return of the population of Wexford, which is at present associated with Carlow-Kilkenny, to the county of Wexford; but, if it did, it would again create in Wexford the problem that had to be solved in this way in 1961.

On the other hand, Carlow-Kilkenny, with a population of 98,454, of whom 4,398 live in the administrative county of Wexford, is another one of the 14 out of the 38 constituencies which comply with the present requirements of the Constitution and there is no need whatever to disturb it in any way but for the fact that the unnecessary situation that Deputy Fitzpatrick wants to insist on arises as far up as County Cavan and County Monaghan. This, then, is another constituency that would have to be disturbed; five more Deputies would find themselves contesting a different constituency from the one they contested on the last occasion. This is another area in which Party organisation would have to re-align themselves and another area in which the people would have to adjust themselves to being represented by different Deputies from those to whom they have become accustomed.

I should like now to deal with the constituency of Longford-Westmeath. According to the 1966 census, the population there is 74,788. There are four seats at present in that constituency but in accordance with the judge's decision the minimum population required for the retention of four seats is 76,112. Therefore, that constituency requires an addition of population in order to retain its present representation. As I pointed out, there is at present portion of County Westmeath attached to County Kildare and this problem would most likely and most appropriately be dealt with by returning the 7,106 people in Kildare, but how long it would be possible to leave them there is another matter.

As I have said, the constituency of Wexford is all right as it is. It has a population of 79,039 which is within the Constitutional requirements, but the constituency may be affected by what may have to happen to Kildare which may involve Carlow-Kilkenny and this may require the return of the population of Wexford which is at present in Carlow-Kilkenny, and Wexford, to bring it within the requirements, may have to be then adjusted and this unnecessary disruption may have to take place there.

The most appropriate place to start in the remaining province, Munster, might be the county in which we have all been engaged quite recently— County Limerick.

You lost 3,000 votes there. You went in with a majority of 2,500 and came out with a minority of 4,500.

Are you proud of your showing?

You have no reason to be proud of yours, at a cost of £100,000 to Taca.

That constituency recently had the opportunity of demonstrating its confidence in the present Fianna Fáil Government——

Was he there at all?

I was there from 9 o'clock in the morning until it ceased.

We are not discussing the by-election.

——and despite the combined effort of the two Opposition Parties in the Dáil and an offshoot of one of the British Political Parties and two other non-political Parties——

(Cavan): On a point of order, is the by-election in order?

I would not have referred to it were it not for Deputy L'Estrange. I agree it is out of order.

We have had "gerrymander" thrown across at us by Gerry L'Estrange.

If Deputy L'Estrange agrees it is out of order——

Can we agree on that, at least?

——so do I, though it is a discussion I should very much like to enter. However, I agree it is thoroughly out of order. The county of Limerick, as we all know, is divided into two constituencies, West Limerick and East Limerick, and the constituency of West Limerick, according to the 1966 census, has a population of 54,335, which is too small to meet the requirements of the Constitution for three seats. East Limerick has, as some of us know, a population of 83,022. If we do not know the population we certainly know that the number of voters there is 46,493. East Limerick comes within the present Constitutional requirements and need not be touched if it could be considered in isolation. However, because of the present position of the Constitution, it cannot be considered in isolation. Therefore, East Limerick must be adjusted if this proposal is not passed, because it is affected not only by the position in West Limerick but possibly also by the position in County Kerry.

If East Limerick is involved in an adjustment of its boundary with West Limerick, the possible result will still be just barely within the Constitutional requirements and the revised boundary is unlikely to last longer than the next census, particularly if the situation in Kerry is dealt with by an adjustment with County Limerick which, from one point of view, would appear to be the more desirable thing to do because the barrier between the two counties is hardly as prominent as it is between Counties Kerry and Cork.

However, other consideration might make it more desirable to adjust Kerry with Cork. If, in addition to East Limerick and West Limerick being adjusted, there is also an adjustment between West Limerick and Kerry, obviously the situation in each of the four constituencies that would be involved would be so barely in compliance with the Constitution that that situation would be unlikely to last longer than the next census.

However, it is a fact that the situation in the two Limerick constituencies could conceivably be dealt with within the boundaries of the county itself because the population of the whole county, including the county borough, is 137,357 and the minimum population required for seven seats is 133,196. As we know, there are seven seats in that area—four in East Limerick and three in West Limerick —so that County Limerick could be dealt with in that way if it could be treated alone. However, as I have said, Limerick is quite likely to be affected by the position in County Kerry.

The population in the South Kerry constituency is 56,628 which is too low for its present three seats. In North Kerry, the population of 56,157, is also marginally too low from the point of view of the population required for three seats. The county as a whole has a population of 112,785 so that the county would need an addition of population from somewhere in order to retain its present six seats.

It would be possible to deal with Limerick and Kerry as a unit because the total population of the two counties is 250,142 which would be sufficient on the basis of the High Court's interpretation of the Constitution for the retention of the present 13 seats but in order that this could be done not alone would there have to be adjustments between the two constituencies in Kerry and the two constituencies in Limerick but there would also have to be a transference of population from County Limerick to North Kerry. Here again I do not think that there is any democratic principle that requires this "butchery" of Limerick and Kerry to take place. I am just using the words that were used by the Opposition speakers on the last occasion. I do not think there is, and I hope that during the progress of the Referendum campaign the Opposition Deputies for Limerick—I think there are still some of them left—will explain why they insist that some part of County Limerick must be transferred to County Kerry.

(Cavan): Would the Minister like to have a bet on the result of the Referendum in Limerick? Would he like to have a good stiff even money bet with me?

Maybe in due course.

Lay him a tenner. You are getting a good increase in salary very soon.

(Cavan): I will lay you 6 to 4 now.

This is one of the ways in which the situation could be dealt with. The total number of Deputies in the whole area would still be the same but we would have near mathematical accuracy in the number of population per Deputy in the whole area. I find it hard to believe that the people of County Limerick who would have to vote for a Kerry Deputy instead of a Limerick Deputy would feel that their democratic rights had been vindicated by this unnecessary operation. I do not think that they would feel in any way underprivileged because of the fact that if they were left in their own county it would take a marginally greater number of votes to elect a Deputy in Limerick than it would in Kerry. I think they would prefer to stay where they are. However, this would be still a very close situation that would just barely comply with the Constitutional requirements and it would be so obviously one that would be purely temporary that it might be more appropriate to leave Limerick County intact within its own borders and deal with the situation in Kerry by adjustment with another county rather than County Limerick.

Of course the only other county that it would be in any way feasible to adjust with County Kerry would be the County of Cork. From the point of view of the figures this would be a feasible thing to do. The population could be taken from County Cork as a whole without depriving Cork of any representatives and of course it is only figures that are relevant in accordance with the present position of the Constitution. People do not count. The fact that the people from County Cork would be required by this adjustment to vote for Deputies in the County of Kerry, the fact that they would be separated from this constituency by the physical barrier of a mountain range which is traversed in one part only by the Healy Pass and the fact that they would also be separated from the County of Kerry by the traditional rivalry between the two counties is something which is irrelevant in present circumstances, which we are not allowed to take into consideration, but it is something which I think all practical politicians would think very relevant indeed.

I feel that we can confidently ask the people of the country to get rid of this requirement, this completely unjustified requirement, that compels the Government or compels the commission to ignore the interests of the people concerned, to ignore the convenience of the public representatives and to ignore the convenience and interests of the voluntary workers in all political Parties. They will be asked to get rid of this requirement which necessitates continuous chopping and changing of constituencies, continuous transferring of people from one county to another with the result that in the chaos that ensues the people do not know from election to election who is their public representative or to what constituency they belong. We are asking for a very very small amount of scope indeed to avoid that type of thing. I do not think we are going as far as we were requested to go by Opposition speakers on the last occasion. As I said the only criticism that we could possibly have expected of this proposal, particularly when the Opposition asked to have this separated from the other proposal, was that this did not give anything like sufficient scope to avoid this kind of thing and that it did not give anything like the scope that is available in every other democratic country in the world. The only amendment that we might have expected would be either to remove the definite percentage which is embodied in the Bill as a maximum percentage of deviation or to increase it to a more realistic level. If the Opposition made the criticism that this scope which we were looking for was too low I would certainly be compelled to agree with them just as I find myself compelled to agree with the views that were expressed by Labour and Fine Gael Deputies when the review of constituencies made in 1961 to comply with the decision of the High Court was being discussed here in this House.

The next county I would like to deal with is the County of Waterford or the constituency of Waterford. I do not know whether to start with the County or the constituency. The constituency of Waterford has a population, according to the 1966 census, of 62,331 and this is within the present requirements of the Constitution. The County of Waterford has a population of 73,080. As Deputies can see to comply with the requirements of the Constitution as interpreted by the High Court this required the transfer of a substantial number of the people of Waterford to another county and another constituency or else the transfer of a substantial portion of the population of some other county to County Waterford. I admit that this could have been done in a number of different ways on the last occasion. I think it was an undesirable thing that Waterford had to be dealt with in the way in which it was dealt with. I can quite understand the feelings of the people there which were very well described by Deputy Kyne and the late Deputy Desmond and the late Deputy Lynch. I am quite sure that they did not in any way exaggerate the feeling of the people in that area. We are asking, as I said, for a minimum amount of scope to avoid doing this kind of thing in the future.

The situation in Waterford combined with the situation in Tipperary was dealt with on the last occasion by transferring some of the population from Waterford to South Tipperary. The situation which exists in the two Tipperary constituencies now is that the population of North Tipperary, according to the 1966 Census, is 56,440. The minimum population required for three seats in accordance with the High Court decision is 57,084. The boundary between North Tipperary and South Tipperary which originally was a boundary between the two separate administrative areas of North Tipperary and South Tipperary must now be further adjusted at least. That is, the least that must now happen is that those boundaries must be further adjusted by a transference to North Tipperary from South Tipperary in order that they may retain the present three seats to comply with this decision.

In the constituency of South Tipperary the population in accordance with the 1966 Census is 77,121. Now this constituency is another one of the 14 existing constituencies which are within the limits prescribed by the High Court decision, as we interpret it. As I said, North Tipperary is not and this means that the boundary between the two constituencies must be altered. The situation could just be dealt with within the present bounds of those two constituencies but the resulting situation would approximate so closely to the minimum number of population per Deputy that it would obviously be only a very temporary solution so that the adjustment made would only be temporary and those constituencies would have to look forward to a further adjustment in the near future.

In Cork County and city again the situation there is that it could be dealt with in a number of different ways. It is not quite as involved a situation as in the county and city of Dublin but it is, I think, something which would not be very practical to go into in any great detail here.

(Cavan): You are keeping away from the cities.

No, we will go into the cities if you like.

(Cavan): You might as well.

We will go into the cities in any kind of detail which Deputy Fitzpatrick likes. If Deputy Fitzpatrick would cast his mind back to the earlier part of my contribution he would remember that I dealt with the Dublin area as a whole and I demonstrated——

(Cavan): My recollection is that you said it was too involved.

I dealt with it as a whole but not on an individual basis. I demonstrated that if the present constitutional requirements are complied with that area must receive a minimum increase of four seats. I also dealt with that area must receive a mini-number of voters in the area and showed that the number of voters required an increase of only two seats, rather than four seats. I contrasted that with the situation in the West of Ireland where, taking the West of Ireland as an area from Donegal to Clare, including the province of Connacht, the present requirements were for a reduction of three seats and whereas based on voters rather than on population there was only need for a reduction of one seat.

I pointed out that situation to the Deputies on the Fine Gael and Labour benches and showed that what they were insisting on was that there should be this uncalled for reduction in the representation of that area from Donegal to Clare of two Deputies and that there should be this unjustified increase to 38 seats in Dublin whereas only 36 are required even on the most rigid interpretation of the so-called democratic principle which Deputies opposite have been talking about but that for some reason the Fine Gael and Labour Parties had decided it was desirable to unnecessarily reduce the representation of rural Ireland and that it was desirable to unjustifiably increase the representation of the urban areas.

I pointed out that they were for reasons that are known only to themselves embarking on a deliberate campaign of dividing this country on the basis of urban population versus rural population but that in fact there is no need for this. In fact, the proposal we are making is a proposal which we can put forward with confidence in all parts of the country, both urban and rural areas because it is based on justice. I do not want to speculate as to why it is that the Fine Gael Party have decided that it is desirable that the rural areas of the country generally should have less representation than the number of voters in the area would entitle them to. You might get some clue to it from Deputy J.A. Costello's contribution to the Second Reading of the two Bills when he contemptuously referred to the rural vote as the cow vote——

(Cavan): You have driven the people away.

——particularly if we relate Deputy Costello's, the former Taoiseach's remarks of the rural vote being the cow vote to the recent announcement of the Fine Gael policy to reduce the number of farms——

(Cavan): Nonsense.

—to a number that will be able to maintain a cow population of a minimum of 400 per farm. I think possibly we may get a clue as to why it is the Fine Gael Party, whose spokesman here is Deputy Fitzpatrick, from the rural constituency of Cavan, have decided to make this all-out effort to ensure that the present position which deprives the rural population in general of their due representation in the Dáil continues rather than that this slight adjustment in the Constitution we are asking for should be made which would have no more effect than to equate the value of a vote in rural areas generally with the value of a vote in urban areas generally. It would certainly do no more than that if it would even succeed in doing it.

As I said, the only criticism that could reasonably have been expected of this proposition would be that it was far too restrictive and that it would not succeed in ensuring justice for the people. The position even after this amendment is passed would still be that these injustices will have to be perpetrated on large sections of the population in different parts of the country, but the Fine Gael and Labour Parties are determined that this situation will continue, and I hope that they will be able to explain that to their constituents. We intend to ensure that the constituents will be aware of what they are doing and I think they will require to justify their actions.

I do not think the present position is required by the principles of democracy. I am inclined to agree with the views expressed by the Opposition Parties in 1961, that this, in fact, is the opposite to democracy. I do not think it is necessary and I cannot understand why the Opposition want to hang on to this position since it obtains in this country and in this country only, why we must be different from everyone else and why we must be compelled to change people from constituency to constituency, to change people around like shuttlecocks from constituency to constituency, in order to "vindicate their democratic rights". I do not feel this is a vindication of their democratic rights, but for some reason or another the Opposition want it to continue.

I find it hard to understand why, if they consider the matter from the point of view of one of their own constituents, who at the time of the general election, let us say, in the County Cavan, voted for the panel of candidates including Deputy Fitzpatrick and who finds himself, as a result of the application of this principle, in the situation after the next census, which may be in a year or two, that he is located in a constituency of Meath. I suppose Deputy Fitzpatrick, being the type of Deputy he is, would continue to devote the same attention to the part of Cavan that had been moved from the rest of the county as if it had been a part that was left there. I think all Deputies are not the same and there might be a Deputy who, finding that part of the constituency he was elected to represent was now transferred to another constituency and that some part of another constituency was added on, might decide: "I am not interested in the part gone from me and I will concentrate now on the new area which I will be contesting in the next election." The people who voted for a Deputy in the original constituency will be bewildered by the change of events. They would find themselves not knowing who their representatives were, whether it was Deputy T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan) whom they voted for or whether it was Deputy Farrelly whom they would have to vote for the next time.

I do not think this is necessary. I do not think it is demanded by any democratic principle. I do not think it desirable to say what Deputy Harte wants to say to some of Deputy P. O'Donnell's constituents in Donegal: "We cannot leave you to continue voting in Donegal because if we did, your vote would only be 94 per cent as effective as the average vote in the country as a whole, so, in order to vindicate your democratic rights, we will transfer you to county Leitrim and there you will be in a constituency where your vote will be 95 per cent as effective as the average vote in the country as a whole, rather than 94 per cent as effective, and by doing that, we will ensure that you have the same democratic rights as everybody else." The 3,500 odd voters at least of the southern part of Donegal, who, if Deputy Harte has his way, will have to be transferred, may possibly think——

(Cavan): You will have to bring up something stronger than that.

——that this is a vindication of their democratic rights. I do not think that they will. Even if it will involve their votes being only 94 per cent as effective as the average vote, they would prefer to vote in Donegal and have the opportunity of continuing to vote for Deputy P. O'Donnell, rather than for Deputy McLaughlin or Deputy Gilhawley or Deputy Reynolds, because the three of them, if this amendment is not passed, would obviously find themselves contesting the same three-seat constituency. They would have the task of competing among themselves for the votes not only of people in County Sligo and County Leitrim but of persons in County Donegal who are displaced purely and simply because of this ridiculous requirement, that the proportion of population per Deputy must be the same in each constituency throughout the country as a whole, regardless of the fact, as I have shown, that in the county of Donegal, the number of voters per Deputy is sufficient fully to entitle that county to retain its present six seats without any mutilation of its boundaries, and without the addition of part of Leitrim or Sligo, or by transferring part of the county to the constituency of Sligo-Leitrim.

I cannot see how that type of thing adds anything to democracy in this country and I do not think the people will see it either. I hope Deputy Harte will be able to explain to the people of Donegal why he wants this to happen and that Deputy P. O'Donnell will explain during the next referendum campaign why he wants to export part of the people who vote for him to another constituency where admittedly they will have the choice of choosing between three Fine Gael Deputies rather than the one they have already. He will have to explain to them whether the reason for this is that he intends to join the trek to Dublin that has been started by three Deputies—the two Deputies O'Higgins and Deputy Lindsay.

This is a ridiculous requirement and the guidelines we have laid down in the Bill will ensure that this maximum deviation of one-sixth of the national average will not operate generally over the whole country. It can only be used in the circumstances laid down in the Bill, to avoid the breaching of county boundaries or take account of the extent and accessibility of constituencies. If a revision of constituencies is made and a deviation of one-sixth utilised, and if it is not possible to show that it was for these reasons it was done, then such a revision can be challenged in the High Court. Then, obviously, it would not be possible, even if anybody desired to do it, to arrange that every rural constituency would be formed on the basis of one-sixth less than the national average population per Deputy and that every urban constituency would be formed on the basis of one-sixth more than the national average population per Deputy.

If you take the Dublin area as a whole, that is, the Dublin county area plus the Dublin city area, and the other major city of Cork, you will find that in those two areas combined the electors comprise 52 per cent of the total population and if you take the rest of the country as a whole the position is that electors comprise 61 per cent of the total population. So that the present position is that if you revised constituencies on the basis of strict mathematical accuracy of population per Deputy, a vote in the Dublin area and in the Cork city area would, on average, be nine per cent more effective in electing a Deputy than a vote in the rest of Ireland as a whole. Therefore, it must be quite obvious that the ultimate position resulting from the amendment we are proposing will do no more than redress this imbalance in regard to the effectiveness of a vote in a reasonable way.

(Cavan): At the risk of prolonging the Minister's speech, may I ask a question? Do I understand the Minister to say that the one-sixth tolerance could only be operated with a view to avoiding overlapping of county boundaries, et cetera?

Et cetera—yes.

(Cavan): Overlapping of county boundaries?

No—and also the extent and accessibility.

(Cavan): Where is that in the Bill?

They are in the Bill. These are the words that Deputy Fitzpatrick proposes to delete. Perhaps Deputy Fitzpatrick has deleted them already?

(Cavan): We are now on the Schedule and if I read it correctly, the first part of the Schedule says that there can be a tolerance of one-sixth either way and then it says that, subject to that, regard may be had to accessibility, et cetera; but you have one-sixth tolerance either way if you never had any accessibility.

No. The one-sixth tolerance, obviously, can only be operated in accordance with these requirements.

(Cavan): No, that is wrong.

If the maximum of one-sixth is utilised and it is not possible to show that it is done in order to comply with these requirements, then such revision of constituencies could be successfully challenged.

(Cavan): With all due respect, the Schedule does not say that.

I think it does. That is what it is intended to say and I think that is what it does say. This proposition that we are making is one that is completely justifiable. It has been justified in advance by the Opposition Parties. It is one that will do no more than justice to the people of the country, that will do no injustice to anybody but will help in a small way to avoid the necessity of perpetrating on people in different parts of the country an injustice that nobody wants to perpetrate on them—certainly, nobody on this side of the House. The only possible interpretation to place on the attitude of the Opposition is that they now want the situation that resulted in 1961 to be repeated on a much wider scale on this occasion because, as I have shown, it is inevitable that that will happen now before the next general election and that every part of the country will be affected. It is also quite likely that whatever results from this redrawing of constituencies on this occasion will be only of a very temporary nature and will require further revision probably after the next census. So that the effect of this proposal, so far from breaching any democratic principle, will result in the value of individual votes throughout the country as a whole becoming more nearly equal and its purpose is so clearly to avoid injustice and to safeguard people's democratic rights as to expose the Opposition Parties as being completely insincere in their attitude to the proposal. The Opposition's real views were those that were expressed in 1961 and it is only because they allowed themselves to be panicked into opposing it because it is proposed by Fianna Fáil that they now find themselves in the position of opposing this very desirable proposal.

We have had some filibusters in this House and I think it can be said that the Minister's filibuster tonight will rank amongst the most outrageous of them. I am surprised that this important business dealing with electoral reform was ordered for this evening. The Government must have lost sight of the fact that there is a party in Dublin Castle to which Deputies have been invited.

Does that arise on the Schedule?

That being the case, I cannot understand why some other business was not ordered for this evening which could be dealt with in the usual way.

I was putting necessary information on the records of the House.

The Minister for Local Government has been filibustering for the past 2½ hours——

No, no. It is very important information.

——wantonly encroaching on the time of the House and of its Members. This is outrageous. It is something that I protest against. My opinion of the Minister has not been very high and his present performance does nothing to vary it. Everyone knows that the Minister's statement is insincere.

All based on figures.

Everyone knows that the Minister—to use a term which is easily understandable—is just bluffing. With his almost four-hour statement in the Dáil, that is just what he is doing. We all know that this Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill was drawn up for one purpose only— with a view to coating—"icing", possibly, would be a better term—the Fourth Amendment which is to be dealt with later.

Did we not separate them for you?

The Minister and the Government got the idea that they would tell the people now that they were going to give them more representation in the sparsely populated parts and would embody this amendment with the Fourth Amendment which the Government had in mind at the outset and that they would say to the people, "If you want more representation in the west of Ireland you must do what you did not do in 1959 —do away with the single-seat constituencies." Is that not what the Government had in mind? The Minister is not worried about all these constituencies along the western seaboard, details of which he has outlined here tonight, or the living standards of the people in them.

And on the east, also.

His confessed aim is the advancement of the Fianna Fáil Party and the advancement of the Taca group. Everyone knows that is the main aim behind this Bill—to bring about a change in the view so clearly expressed by the people in the last referendum. It is scandalous that less than nine years after that decisive decision, we should be discussing this position again. I have no doubt that the Third Amendment would never have been brought in but for this endeavour to try to deceive the people into accepting the Fourth Amendment Bill. That is the amendment the Minister is interested in.

The Fourth Amendment Bill is not before the House.

The two were like Siamese twins, but in view of public opinion, an operation was performed and they had to be separated. This package deal did not come off. Now they are putting forward the Third Amendment and telling the people: "Look, you are not sufficiently well represented. We are very mindful of you. We would like to give you more representation but this dreadful Opposition are not agreeable." The Minister told us the last day that he was worried about Deputy Dunne being overworked. I am sure the Minister gives a damn about it.

The Minister has cause to be worried about Deputy Dunne.

I know Deputy Dunne is one of the most capable and effective Members of this House. Those of us who know him personally know he is overworked, but I am damn sure the Minister is not worried about the extra duties Deputy Dunne has to perform in looking after the interests of his constituents in County Dublin. The reason I mention this relatively small matter is that it was the main reason put forward by the Minister in reply to a question of mine as to who asked for this reform.

You did.

I certainly did not. The only one he could name was Deputy Dunne.

I mentioned also Deputy Corish, Deputy Norton, Deputy Desmond.

We had this Vote for over £100,000 to ensure that the single-seat constituency will operate. That is the main purpose. His lordship decided this matter in 1960. The usual outcome in much smaller cases than this, particularly in cases where private individuals have to bear the cost, is that if a judge's decision, in the opinion of a particular Party, particularly a Party who have the funds to proceed further, is open to question, then they take it to the Supreme Court. That is one question I put to the Minister which he failed to answer this evening. Why did the Government not take to the Supreme Court the judge's decision which indicated he was not in agreement with the draftsmen who drew up the electoral reform in 1959?

I told you I had no reason to believe it was wrong.

I assume this electoral revision in 1959 was approved by the Attorney General of the time. He must have agreed that this 1959 revision was in accordance with the Constitution. That was challenged by a private individual and it was determined by a single judge sitting in the High Court that changes should be made. The natural thing for the Government to do, if they believe in their own Attorney General and the advice submitted to them the previous year, would be to take the matter to the Supreme Court where they would have a much larger body to determine the particular issue. But that was not done because at that time it possibly suited Fianna Fáil to leave things as they were. They had a second go at revising the constituencies.

I may say at this stage that it is not the intention of this Party to delay the House for an extended period on this measure because it has been discussed over and over. We are much more in favour of leaving it go to the people who will ultimately decide it, the citizens of this country.

Hear, hear.

The Minister spent three and a half hours filibustering here, which indicates he is not in any great hurry to get this through the House and over to the people.

I wanted to make sure you knew what you were doing.

How much public money has been wasted bringing up the statements of Deputies who have long since left this House, statements taken entirely out of their context, extracts from speeches made by Deputies who have departed from this life for many years—the late Deputy Lynch, the late Deputy Desmond, the late Deputy Norton——

The "late" Deputy Corish.

——and some other Deputies? Statements taken out of their context were quoted by the Minister in support of this case he is trying to put before the people for the Third Amendment Bill but actually with the Fourth Amendment Bill in mind.

If I may recall some of his statements, he mentioned the "butchery" of Waterford. Who butchered Waterford, and why? It was butchered because, having regard to the returns of the elections prior to 1961, it was evident to Fianna Fáil, or so they thought, that if Waterford were reduced from a four-seat to a three-seat constituency, Fianna Fáil would still hold the two seats they held and that by doing so, they would take a seat from the Opposition and give that advantage to their own Party. So they butchered Waterford, to use the Minister's phrase, but unfortunately things did not go their way. They had hoped to remove my colleague on this bench, Deputy Kyne, from this House when they reduced the representation from four to three seats in the revision of 1960, but what happened? The people of Waterford sent Deputy Kyne back here with the largest vote he ever got in any election. That was the answer given.

Tell us how Waterford could have been left alone?

The Minister's Party were sure they could hold the two seats in Waterford, that two out of three would be much better than two out of four.

I heard you make the same speech before.

The Parliamentary Secretary may be in jocose mood. This is a serious matter and I would like him to treat it as such.

How could Waterford have been saved?

The Minister told us about statements by the late Deputy Norton and what happened in Kildare. Big chunks of Westmeath and Meath were thrown into Kildare to do something that proved to be sound so far as the Minister's Party are concerned. That something, of course, was to get two out of four seats. Fianna Fáil could not do better than one out of three when Kildare was a constituency on its own. I will give the Minister the credit that his view was correct. So far as Kildare was concerned he said: "Look here, if we get extra chunks of Meath and Westmeath and make Kildare a four-seat constituency we will get two out of the four." Was that not one of the main reasons why Kildare was transformed from a three-seat constituency to a four-seat constituency?

I am a believer in tolerance but I am not a believer in the Minister. I have not the slightest doubt that he is completely insincere and that his main aim in this provision—if I have the permission of the Parliamentary Secretary to repeat myself—is to sugar-coat this Fourth Amendment Bill in which he is so vitally interested.

This is the Third Amendment Bill.

The Fourth Amendment Bill is the one the Minister has at the back of his head, and judging from what happened in Limerick, it is going to stay there. If I may digress for a moment, I was down at some of the meetings on the Sunday before the election at Murroe and outside church gates and the Parliamentary Secretary was saying: "If you do not give O'Malley No. 1 and if you give your No. 1 to one of the other candidates, give our fellow No. 2 and even No. 3."

Why not?

The system is there.

I am surprised that the Minister acknowledges Deputy O'Malley's election. He has stated that he is not a believer in PR.

I did not state it on the Committee Stage of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill.

If the Minister's proposed reform does not go through, perhaps he will resign in disgust and we will no longer have him in the House. If that happens, some of us will not shed any tears.

To bolster up a bad case, the Minister talked about the county boundaries and said they might be crossed. Even under the present Constitution you cannot keep within the county limits. No matter what system we have, single, double, treble or whatever number of seats, it is not unlikely that in rare cases county boundaries may have to be crossed. I do not like that to happen, but Fianna Fáil have done it before to suit themselves. I remember when they put Youghal into Waterford in order to defeat a former chairman of the Cork County Council. He resided in Youghal, and, by transferring Youghal town to the constituency of Waterford, they thought they would knock him out, but the people thought differently. If Deputy O'Connor looks up the records, he will find there are umpteen cases of that kind.

And we always lost?

A High Court judge made a decision in 1960——

——and we had an election in 1961. The Government were in power and they did not say anything about his lordship's decision from 1961 to 1965. If they were genuine, they would have asked for the co-operation of all Parties in setting up a Committee of the House. That would be quite a reasonable thing to do.

(Cavan): They knew that the then Deputy Sherwin would not stand for it.

They should have got down to it in a businesslike way. I am sure such a committee——

Such a Committee could not breach the Constitution.

It could make a recommendation which would be acceptable to all Parties and could then be put before the people. That was not done because the Minister and his Party were not interested in doing it at the time. The Attorney General advised the Government that a general election on the present basis would be contrary to the Constitution. How do we know that the decision of the Attorney General is correct? A decision by the Attorney General in 1959 was revoked by a High Court judge. Is the Minister asserting that the Attorney General is infallible? He did not set down whether the variation or the tolerance should be 1,000 or 2,000. The Minister is misinterpreting his lordship's remarks for the purpose of deceiving the general public. If the viewpoint of the Attorney General is correct, I want to pose a question to the Minister: is the composition of the present Dáil unconstitutional? We were elected in 1965 and some were elected from constituencies which were below the normal tolerance allowed, according to the Minister's interpretation of the judge's remarks.

As I said earlier, I do not want to hold up the House for too long but I do not believe that the Minister's case is in any way sincere. If I thought for a moment that there was any sincerity attaching to the Minister's statement, I would be the first to agree to join in any Committee or group of Members of the House to ensure that the rural areas were properly and adequately represented, but I have not the slightest doubt that the Minister is not interested in rural representation. The Minister is interested in improving the position of his own political Party and keeping himself and his friends in office for longer than the people want them. That is his sole aim. The Government have been in office for too long. Possibly the same could apply to other Governments. The Government are stale and arrogant. The Minister for Local Government is most arrogant. They feel they are declining, and naturally the results in Wicklow and the results in Limerick East bear out that feeling. Limerick was their strongest, or their second strongest, constituency in the country. Everything favoured them. I do not want to go into details but they got in by less than they expected.

We all won.

If the 464 people who voted O'Higgins No. 1 and O'Malley No. 2 instead of giving their No. 2 to O'Malley had given it to Lipper, we would have had Lipper in the winners' enclosure, shall I say, and the Parliamentary Secretary would have been spared a task earlier today.

Tell us how we lost in Limerick.

You should have spent £35,000 instead of £30,000.

If the Deputy can discuss Limerick, so can I.

The Mafia are slipping up there.

I could start off by saying the Labour Party got an increase of more than 80 per cent in their vote there. I shall not use this House for that purpose. I could also say that the Fine Gael vote declined by 2,500. I do not want to inflict that on the House at 9.30 this evening. The Minister is supposed to be the computer of the Fianna Fáil Party that gets in the figures. He said he had taken into account the probable outcome of all the constituencies. The Minister has proposals before him so that in the likely event of his single-seat reform proposal turning out as we expect it to turn out, he will ask himself: "How will we move now? Will we make this place four or five?" The Minister mentioned that here this evening.

I have said that the Labour Party are mindful of the interests of the people, both rural and urban. We should be the first to join in any committee that we thought would genuinely be established with a view to ensuring fair representation for urban and rural people. We oppose this amendment because—I do not wish to repeat what I have already said—we think the sole aim of the Minister in proposing it is to bolster up the declining fortunes of the Fianna Fáil Party and the Taca men associated with it.

(Cavan): As Deputy Murphy said, we listened here this evening for over four hours to the Minister for Local Government who recited a litany of alleged figures and alleged facts which he said were already on the records of this House. It struck me that it was a terrible waste of time. It also occurred to me to ask myself how many highly-paid Civil Service man-hours went into the making-up of these figures for the Minister.

I did it all myself.

Indeed you did not.

(Cavan): I asked myself how many Civil Service man-hours were devoted to the compilation of these alleged facts and alleged figures for the Minister. It also occurred to me to ask myself if this time of the civil servants would not better be spent in providing houses for St. Joseph's Place in Limerick or other places where they are badly needed or in devising ways and means of providing means of access into homes of people throughout the length and breadth of Ireland and not in that way.

What about Fine Gael talk of dividing 400 cow farms?

The Government are driving them off.

(Cavan): If the Minister were intent on keeping the people in those places, there would not then be occasion for him to say that there are not enough votes for so many seats here and so many seats there. The Minister spoke for over four hours. When I spoke here earlier this evening I charged him with the fact that his sole purpose in introducing this Bill was to gerrymander and to keep himself in power by dishonest means.

Hear, hear.

(Cavan): As evidence of that, I pointed out that, notwithstanding what Deputy Booth thinks, there is no provision in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill for a commission to arrange the constituencies although there is provision for a commission in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill. I challenge the Minister to tell the House and the country why he did not put the commission provisions into the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill—the provisions whereby constituencies with a tolerance of six per cent would be arranged by a tribunal consisting of three members of the Opposition and three members of the Government, presided over by a judge. I challenge the Minister to tell the House and the people why he did not do that if he was an honest man and if his proposals were the honest proposals he led the House to believe they were. During the four hours the Minister occupied the time of this House, he never for one moment——

Why did the Deputy not ask me the question? Now, I shall have to get up again to answer it.

(Cavan): I made the charge. The Minister ignored it. I repeated the charge.

You asked Deputy Booth.

(Cavan): Deputy Booth does not know the provisions of this Bill and neither does the Minister. In his innocence, the Minister thinks that this one-sixth per cent tolerance——

There is no mention of one-sixth per cent here.

(Cavan):—one-sixth tolerance—the Minister seems to think——

There is no mention of one-sixth per cent here.

(Cavan): The Minister is getting petty and sore and small. He does that with the clergy, with the returning officers, with television, and so on. In any event, the Minister seems to think that the one-sixth tolerance is regulated by things such as accessiblity, rivers, mountains, and so on. If the Minister reads the Bill or consults his advisers, he will find that that just is not so. If there never were a county boundary, the Minister can provide that 16,667 people will be represented by one Teachta Dála in one constituency but in another constituency, one Teachta Dála will represent 23,333 people if there never were a river and never were a mountain.

I want to get back to the commission. I challenge the Minister to agree to put into this measure the commission provisions of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill—to make them applicable to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. There is no difficulty about doing it. It can be done. The only reason the Minister is not doing it is that he wants to retain to himself and to his majority in this House the right to draw up the constituencies, the right to rig the constituencies, the right to gerrymander the constituencies and to arrange them to his best political advantage. If that is not his intention I ask, and I repeat, why will he not include the commission provisions of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill and why they were left out of it in the first instance.

The Minister seems to think that county boundaries are sacred and that the counties and constituencies should coincide identically. I do not think there is anything sacred about county boundaries. For example, for years back, we have had county managers managing two counties. We have had joint county managers in a number of counties. Practically every police district in this State consists of two counties joined together. Almost invariably, two counties have been joined together in this country over the years for mental health purposes. We have had a number of joint constituencies. I think I am safe in saying that there are some counties in this State which, from its foundation, have never been a single constituency but have always been joined with another. It we are to accept as genuine the thinking of the Government at present, they are thinking away from counties and thinking in terms of regions. We have a commission sitting at present —their report is overdue—advising on regional hospitals. The day of the old county hospital is done. A hospital now caters for three or four counties. Therefore, there is nothing sacred about county boundaries—there never has been—but if I understand the case the Minister is making correctly, he seems to be saying that constituencies should coincide with county boundaries and that each county should be a constituency. But did it occur to the Minister to consider for a moment what he is doing in the Fourth Amendment Bill? To use his own familiar words, he is butchering up every single county——

That is a quotation; it is in inverted commas.

(Cavan):——into two and three constituencies. You will then have Deputies representing, say, the eastern part of a county in the Dáil: on the county council they may be representing another area of the county. They will be pulling against their county council interests and their interests will be divided. I should like the Minister to explain how, if he thinks counties are so sacred, he can justify butchering or dividing up—if he thinks it is a better word—each county into two or three constituencies because that is what he is doing. You will then have the people of East Cavan, Mid-Cavan and West Cavan all with different interests. Deputies representing West Cavan will not have the same interests as those representing East Cavan and Deputies representing Mid-Cavan will not have an interest either in East Cavan or West Cavan. Is that not the position?

I do not think it arises on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill.

(Cavan): The Minister has made the case for the sacredness of county boundaries—

Perhaps we should have left both measures together; then the Deputy would be relevant.

(Cavan): I am making the case that the Minister does not believe in county boundaries. He is making a case for the Schedule of the Bill which we are now discussing on the basis that county boundaries are sacred and that county boundaries and constituencies should coincide. I am drawing the attention of the House to the fact that the Bill which I hope we shall be discussing tomorrow morning——

There will be no sitting in the morning.

(Cavan): Another little smart remark. Under the other measure which we shall be discussing tomorrow the Minister shows a total disregard for county boundaries. At present, I represent the constituency of Cavan and I am interested in it from Dowra to Mullagh. The Minister spoke about Virginia to Arva——

No, I said from Virginia to Emyvale.

(Cavan): That is in Monaghan.

And I also spoke about Arva to Castleblayney.

(Cavan): That is only about half the constituency.

I was not talking about the Deputy's present constituency which he wants to get out of.

(Cavan): At present I represent the constituency from Mullagh to Dowra and Blacklion and I am interested in it from one end to the other but if the Minister gets his way—and let him know that I shall be elected even if he gets his way, which he will not—I shall have an interest in only one-third of the constituency and two other TDs will be elected who will each have an interest in one-third of the area. At present there are three Deputies representing the county and I hope they have the interest of the whole county at heart. If County Monaghan is joined with Cavan and there are five Deputies, they will have joint responsibility and joint interest in the whole constituency.

This argument about county boundaries does not hold water. It is neither genuine nor sincere. It is simply put up as a sort of catch-cry in the hope that people would not throw their minds forward to the very next measure to see that it is completely and utterly disregarded. The Minister in his long harangue did not deal with Dublin which he skipped over——

There is still time.

(Cavan): And he skipped over the commission.

I did deal with it but only in a general way. I shall now deal with it in detail.

(Cavan): I want to close on this note that I believe that the Minister has got the message. I believe his speech for four hours here tonight was an attempt to drag out this debate into the financial business when he will have an excuse for putting the Third Amendment and the Fourth Amendment Bills at the bottom of the Order Paper. He will then have an opportunity of avoiding the referendum until the end of this year or perhaps next year. So far as I and my Party are concerned, we will just not co-operate with him. If he wants to talk on and on for hours he can do so, but it will be to a quorum of his own Deputies. We want this measure and the next measure, the Fourth Amendment, to go to the people at once and we want to get any uncertainty there may be about electoral change out of the way and let Parliament get on with the business for which it was elected, to pass laws for the people and not to be considering ways and means of keeping itself or portion of it in office. That is what is being done. I repeat that I am not going to co-operate, nor is this Party, in any of the Minister's delaying tactics to drag out this debate. The referendum must be held, I think, within 30 days of the passing of this measure by Seanad Éireann.

It is the other way: it cannot be held within 30 days.

I want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that we are getting away from the Schedule.

(Cavan): The Minister will have plenty of time to put his views before the people either at chapel gates, if they will listen to him, or on Telefís Éireann if he allows it to operate and allows all Parties to air their views over it. I challenge him to do that. He will have plenty of time to get his views across to the people and the people will have ample opportunity to consider them. I challenge him now to get on with it, stop talking and put the matter before the people with the minimum delay.

Opposition speakers are accusing the Minister of delaying tactics and have said that he has spoken for four hours. I heard only some of the things he said but there is one point that I think is worth elaborating. It struck me very forcibly. Taking the 20,000 people per Deputy as the base then, according to the Minister's statement that in rural areas the voters consist of 61 per cent of the population and in urban areas the electors make up 52 per cent of the population —if you work it out it means that in, say, Donegal it will take 12,200 electors to return a Deputy whereas in Dublin it will require only 10,400 electors to return a TD. Is this the kind of tolerance that Fine Gael and Labour want? Is this what they want to impose on the rural population of this country? Is this what they want to see happen in the rural constituencies from Donegal to Cork and from Galway to the boundaries of Dublin? I do not think that this is justice. I do not think Fine Gael or Labour should advocate that on this Bill—I presume when it comes to the referendum, they will advocate the same policy—because frankly, any Deputy, and especially rural Deputies like Deputy Murphy from Cork and Deputy Fitzpatrick, does not want this although this is what they are fighting for in this House and will be fighting for on the occasion of the referendum. They want to uphold the system which in the case of Donegal, in the case of Cavan and in the case of West Cork, will require the large number of 12,200 people as the number who will elect a TD, whereas in the city they want to see, and will see, a TD elected by 10,400 people. This is what will happen if the percentage which the Minister has given is correct, and I am sure these are the official figures.

(Cavan): The Minister said he compiled them himself.

Then the people who the Deputy said cost so much to compile them——

(Cavan): I am only telling the Deputy what the Minister said.

If they are not correct, I am sure Deputy Fitzpatrick and his researchers in Fine Gael will correct them for us.

(Cavan): If I were Deputy Cunningham, I would not talk at all because of the way they are treating him up there.

There again is another point I hope the Minister will highlight, because I think it is a very important one for the people, especially the people of rural Ireland whose interests all Parties seem to have at heart, although it is difficult to understand how any Party can have the interests of rural Ireland at heart when it is trying to preserve the present position. Deputy Fitzpatrick also complained that the Minister read out a litany of constituencies and spoke of what might happen if the referendum were defeated. Only one of two things can happen, either the referendum will succeed or it will be defeated. It is only right to put across to this House and through this House to the people the situation that will obtain in either event. Why tell them what will happen if the referendum succeeds and not tell them what will happen if it does not succeed? Eventually it is the people who will decide, and if they decide against, then what the Minister has been telling the House and the country this evening is what will happen, or something along those lines—the breaching of boundaries, the crossing from one county to another. Deputy Fitzpatrick has said that if the single-seat constituency is adopted, he could represent only one-third of Cavan. I think he would be better able to represent one-third than the whole county; in other words, the area he would represent would be better represented because he would be able to devote more time to it.

The people will be denied a choice of Deputies such as they have at present.

There will be plenty of candidates from whom to choose. I presume each Party will have a candidate, and there will be quite a number of candidates. I do hope that the point made by the Minister will be noted by the electorate when they come to decide this matter.

I am fairly familiar with this breaching of constituencies. Before 1945, part of my own county—indeed, part of my present constituency—was attached to County Clare.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

When I was so rudely interrupted by Deputy Fitzpatrick, I was referring to the breaching of county boundaries and to the fact that some years ago part of my present constituency was attached to County Clare from quite near my own town to Woodford, which is practically on the Clare boundary, and over again to Gort and into Oranmore, which is very near Galway city. It was impossible in those days to get people interested in voting at general or by-elections, because the people in the county of Galway had to vote for candidates of all Parties who were naturally chosen from County Clare. This was mainly due to the fact that at local level, in the county council, they were represented by councillors from Galway and in national affairs they were represented by Dáil Deputies from County Clare. The boundaries were not coterminous with county boundaries for Dáil representation and consequently people in Galway showed very little inclination to vote in Dáil elections, despite the fact that there was always a good turn out at local elections. For Deputy Fitzpatrick to say that breaching the boundaries does not mean a thing is nonsense. We could not get 25 per cent of the people to vote at Dáil elections.


I must say we never saw any of the Deputy's Party down there.

You did, and you will be seeing more of them shortly. You will get a Limerick-like wallop there.

You will be very welcome. However, that is the point I wish to make, that Deputy Fitzpatrick is away off his mark if he speaks, as he does, about the insignificance of county boundaries.

(Cavan): You are talking about old God Almighty's time. Times have changed.

I did not interrupt the Deputy——

(Cavan): Indeed you did.

I am correcting the Deputy on matters of fact. Deputy Ryan made the point that TDs should not have to meet their constituents and that constituents should get their rights or their imagined rights without having to have recourse to their Deputy or county councillor. In the next breath, he said that it was as easy in rural Ireland to contact a Deputy as it was in the city of Dublin. Fine Gael speak with many voices but apparently they are not heard and these voices are becoming muted in parts of the country. If he knew the extent of a five-seat constituency, which my constituency is, in rural Ireland, as compared with a three or four seat constituency in the City of Dublin, he would not make a statement like that. My constituency extends from the Mayo border to the Clare border, from north to south, a distance of about 70 miles, and from Tipperary and Offaly a distance of about 40 or 45 miles. Surely nobody could say that a sixpenny bus ticket, which I am sure is all it would cost to visit Deputy Ryan, although from what he says I believe he does not encourage visitors——

Not unless they pay.

——would represent a far greater task than to travel 40 or 50 miles to visit Deputy Donnellan in the north or Deputy Molloy who lives in the West, or Deputy Mrs. Hogan O'Higgins who lives in the south-east? A statement of that kind will certainly not be believed in rural Ireland. I know the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's constituency and I had occasion to be there some time ago and I know what distances are involved there. If we are to believe Deputy Ryan that it is easier to travel from Abbeyfeale, where Deputy Jones, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle lives, than to travel in Dublin South-West——

To travel from Rathmines to Kimmage. You would want to set out early in the morning to do that. It is a long journey.

I can assure the Leas-Cheann Comhairle that to cross from North Galway to South Galway is a far more difficult journey and certainly TDs in many parts of rural Ireland try to make themselves as accessible as possible to their constituents, no matter to what Party they belong.

Deputy Fitzpatrick accused the Minister of spending four hours on the rural constituencies but I am now asking the Minister to spend four hours on the urban constituencies, to tell us and our constituents what exactly these changes will mean, what the issues are. Despite what Deputy Fitzpatrick said, the whole country should know, rural and urban, what the effects of these amendments would mean to them. I urge the Minister to discuss urban constituencies as he has done so thoroughly with the rural areas.

Deputy Fitzpatrick also mentioned the question of television and challenged a discussion on television about proportional representation and its proposed abolition. I would indeed be happy to take up this challenge and I invite Deputy Fitzpatrick to measure up the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Dockrell with myself and Deputy Booth on television. I can appreciate that it would be a little difficult for the respected Leader of the Opposition to take up this challenge because it is a well-known fact that he is against the retention of PR. I do not know quite what Deputy Dockrell is against but I am sure we will find out all his views in the course of this debate. Until we do hear what his views are, I am assuming that he is ad idem with his leader. So much for the television challenge.

In regard to my own constituency, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, it is a vast constituency and one which I respectfully submit requires five Deputies. At present it is impossible to look after the whole area. From the point of view of most urban Deputies or rural Deputies, the splitting up of the various constituencies into manageable areas is the important thing. As I said already, when I got up to speak it was to speak about this television challenge. To date Fianna Fáil have not given their views on this matter. We have heard the whole argument from Fine Gael and the Labour Party and we must wait to go to the people in the autumn but if Deputy Fitzpatrick would influence Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Dockrell I am sure that I can speak on behalf of Deputy Booth——

(Cavan): The Deputy should get him to read the Bill first.

And read it yourself.

——when I say that we will gladly take up this challenge.

Hear, hear.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown did not show up too well on the last outing.

I believe that given the opportunity of going on television, perhaps we will improve the figure this time.

(Cavan): You will have to ask the Minister for permission.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown did not then know that Deputy Cosgrave wanted to do away with proportional representation, but he is now leading the Fine Gael Party on an issue in which he himself does not believe. I have great sympathy for the Leader—the respected Leader —of the Fine Gael Party.

Tell us about all the people in the Minister's Party who want to retain proportional representation.

I cannot do that because I do not know them.

There are plenty of them all around the Deputy over there.

I cannot speak——

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but I would remind him that this amendment to the Schedule deals with the tolerance.

I appreciate that and you have been very tolerant with me, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

Tolerance is one of the Christian virtues with which Fianna Fáil is not endowed.

I thought I had dealt reasonably comprehensively with this Schedule, but I have been reminded by both Deputy Murphy and Deputy Fitzpatrick that there are some matters which I have as yet not covered.

(Cavan): Tell us about the Commission.

We will deal with the matters in the order in which they arose. Deputy Murphy spoke before Deputy Fitzpatrick and I should, perhaps, deal with some of the points he raised first. If I omit dealing with any of them, I hope he will remind me.

First of all, there was the question of whether or not a revision of constituencies was due now. Deputy Murphy informed me that the Attorney General had told me that a revision was necessary now.

Once in 12 years the Constitution states.

I do not know where Deputy Murphy got that information; it is something of which I have no knowledge. I have no knowledge of the Attorney General informing me of this. But Deputy Murphy implies that, if he did so inform me, he informed me wrongly. I admit I did not deal with this on Committee Stage because I had already dealt with the matter on Second Reading. That was at a time when we, in order to sort out the confusion of the Opposition, had put the Bills together again, having first separated them in order to avoid confusing the Opposition. Now, in that debate on Second Reading, I instanced a number of occasions on which Deputies put down Parliamentary Questions to me asking when I intended to comply with the constitutional requirement to revise constituencies and, as I said on that occasion, the ink on the census return was hardly dry when my colleague Deputy Dunne apparently being aware of the fact that the constituency of County Dublin was no longer conforming to constitutional requirements, had a question down asking when I was going to revise the constituencies to bring them within the requirements of the Constitution. On Second Reading, I instanced two more occasions on which Deputy Dunne had a similar question down and on at least one of these occasions, he pursued the matter by way of supplementary questions.

Is the Minister now trying to assert that it was as a result of Deputy Dunne's representations this debate is taking place here now?

(Cavan): He is trying to waste time.

I know that Deputy Murphy is not really interested in the facts of the matter but, since this whole matter is based on the Constitution, I think I should read the relevant sub-Article of the Constitution:

The ratio between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency and the population of each constituency, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, so far as it is practicable, be the same throughout the country.

(Cavan): Read the Supreme Court decision on the meaning of the phrase “as far as is practicable” because there was a Supreme Court decision on it in 1961.

There is a High Court decision on it.

(Cavan): There is a Supreme Court decision.

And the Supreme Court ruled that the revision of constituencies made to conform with that High Court decision was within the terms of the Constitution, but Deputy Dunne was quick to notice that at the present time the ratio between the number of members to be elected for his constituency, and my constituency, and Deputy Burke's constituency, is not the same as for every other constituency "as ascertained at the last preceding census" and, therefore, the present scheme of constituencies does not, in fact, comply with the Constitution. Now, whether or not that makes it necessary for the Government to revise the constituencies is, of course, something I do not know, but I do know that it is an incontrovertible fact that there are only 14 out of the present 38 constituencies which are within the constitutional provisions, as I have interpreted them, as laid down by the High Court, and I think I have interpreted them correctly. I cannot see any other way in which they could be interpreted.

I have here a copy of Irish Reports, 1961, and at the bottom of page 143 in re O'Donovan v. the Attorney General, there is the following statement:

Another suggestion was to divide Galway into two constituencies, West Galway with three seats, and East Galway with five seats. It was submitted that this could be done fairly simply by transferring the nine electoral divisions of Carmore, Claregalway, Annaghdown, Ballinduff, Donaghpatrick, Headford, Kilcoone, Killeany and Kilursa, with a joint population of 5,166 to West Galway and consolidating the remainder of the other two existing constituencies. For clarity I set out the result:—

Suggested constituency, West Galway, three seats, population 60,269, ratio of population 1 to 20,089; East Galway, five seats, population 95,284, ratio of population 1 to 19,057;

That is, I think, 1,070 below the national average at the particular time. The learned judge went on to say:

Both suggestions would constitute constituencies with a ratio of members to population reasonably close to the national average. These illustrations show what is practicable in these instances and may be compared with what in fact has been done.

Any reasonable person would, I think, interpret that as indicating that a deviation of approximately 1,000 above or below the national average, which was in the region of 20,000, was permissible, and that is five per cent.

The figure of 1,000 is not set down in any statement by the judge and it does not appear in any enactment. The figure the Minister mentions of 1,000 is not set down anywhere. It was the Minister himself who thought up that figure.

I would not ask Deputy Murphy to do a sum of division or subtraction but, if he gets someone to do it for him, he will find that the figure of 19,057 is 1,070 below the national average at that particular time.

Tugadh tuairisc ar a ndearnadh; an Coiste do shuí arís.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 29th May, 1968.