Section 5, sub-section (2), of the Limerick City Management Act, 1934, fixed the membership of Limerick City Council at 15, four being aldermen and the remainder councillors, and that membership can only be varied by legislation.
A unanimous request was made to me by the Limerick City Council that the membership should be increased by two, and the request was based on the fact that the total area and population of the county borough had been increased. A provisional order to extend the city boundaries was confirmed by the Oireachtas in March last. The provisional order followed a petition by the corporation for an extension of the city boundary on the ground that the amount of land available within the city was quite inadequate for city development. The extension is all round the southern boundary and includes approximately 3,000 acres, and the population in the area is estimated at about 4,700. Accurate figures will not be available until the next census. The population of the city before the extension was 42,987. The population to member ratio is thus about 2,805 persons per member.
In comparison with other county boroughs, Cork with a population of 75,631 and 21 members, has 3,588 persons per member; Dublin, population 506,635, 45 members, leaving 11,256 per member; Waterford, population 28,332, 15 members, or 1,882 per member.
There is no reason to suggest that the membership of county boroughs should be in exact ratio to population or that an extension of a boundary necessarily involves an increase in membership. Each case must be considered on its own merits having regard to the views of the local authority. In this case, the character of the extension and the housing progress made and planned in the area warrant the increase sought by the city council.
On the basis of the local government electorate, the increase of two members is exactly proportionate to the increased electorate for the new area. The new register for the old city contains 24,954 local government electors and there are 3,501 electors in the added area.
The added area was situate partly in the North Limerick rural district electoral division and partly, in the South Limerick rural district electoral division. These two district electoral divisions were altered by taking from them the townlands and parts in the added area, and those townlands were grouped to form the Limerick rural district electoral division.
The current register of electors which came into force on the 15th April last shows the Limerick rural district electoral division as being part of Limerick City and the electors will in future vote for Limerick City elections and not in the Bruff or Castleconnell county electoral areas for the county council elections.
For local government elections the city forms one local electoral area.
I consider the application of the city council a reasonable one and I commend it to the House.