I ask the House to give this amendment due consideration taking into account that the Minister found my previous suggestion unacceptable. The history of this amendment is quite simple. Earlier I asked for the appreciation of the Minister for the unanimous decision of the Galway County Council and the corporation concerning the revisions and the divisions of the city and corporation. That unanimous decision was given wholeheartedly after a lot of thought and because of a desire to do the right thing so that we would set in motion a series of events unique to Galway. To the best of my knowledge no other boundaries were unanimously agreed.
When Galway County Council worked out that agreement they considered suggestions that they had concerning the division of the county electoral areas. Hence the reason for my amendment which is self-explanatory. When we agreed to the extension of the city boundaries on the west side we locked away, as the maps in your file will show, all of Connemara and separated it through Lough Corrib from the rest of the county. We sent a unanimously agreed recommendation that all of Connemara inclusive of the Aran Islands should be one electoral area. Even though I have not said it in my amendment, we also suggested that it be a seven seat constituency. Then we went to the remaining electoral areas around the county. Senator M.D. Higgins is not present because of a commitment he has in Ethiopia with a subcommittee of the House, but I am sure he would verify the fact that we made a suggestion, without nominating the size of the electoral areas, to be put to the commission that the three major market towns of Loughrea, Ballinasloe and Tuam should be the basis of the three new electoral areas. In fact, they were the basis of the old electoral areas. We added a rider stating that we would like to have included in those new electoral divisions the natural economic and social hinterland around them.
That was a very reasonable decision of Galway County Council and it was unanimous. What happened to it? Our agreement was appreciated on the extensions of the city boundary but the unanimous decision of the county council concerning the other proposals around the country were quietly forgotten about. I am sorry Senator Lennon has left the Chamber because I would like to remind him that the situation in our county as is proposed in the Bill in the new divisions of the electoral areas is slightly lopsided. One has to understand that the village and the townland of Inverin must have everything in common with the townland and village of Spiddal. Yet the independent commission divided those two districts. They are both Gaeltacht areas. They are both on the same stretch of coastline. They are both served by the major village of Spiddal. Yet the judge, and the commission, saw fit to split them in two, separate them forever.
The case of the Aran Islands was made today and I will not add to it. It is a Fíor-Ghaeltacht area. It was taken out with Spiddal and designated for a new era of political life. Crossing over the mountain ridge and the bog and down the north side of the peninsula of Connemara what happened? Out of the original Galway electoral area the independent commission took the town of Oughterard and the DEDs of Letterfore. A Breac-Ghaeltacht, which is a bit different from the Fíor-Ghaeltacht, was taken out of the Galway area, put into the Fíor-Ghaeltacht area further west and made into a new five seat constituency.
I made a case on Second Stage and I will not go through it all again. Whatever about the political situation in Louth I am absolutely and totally convinced today that the political situation arising in Connemara was part of a scheme. I described last week how that was done. I explained that my party, Fianna Fáil, in the history of that area had always three seats out of four. We got an increase of one seat and it was hoped of course, it would go to Fine Gael, but I want to restate that I do not believe they are going to get it no matter how the tacticians work. The seat will go to an independent candidate working under the auspices of Cumhacht and I am not advertising for them. The whole scandal only started then. Then they moved into Galway to the remaining area of a line from Oughterard to the division of Spiddal and Inverin and took the population of that area, hoisted them over the Corrib and put them into the environs around the city to a certain limit only. That is where I see the political guile again in operation. We went northwards rapidly down through the county and arrived at the Shrule Bridge at the Mayo border and said that was fine. We crossed up along and found it difficult to avoid the town of Tuam because we had to go west first on the road around the town and then take a sharp turn east in order to take in a little townland called Cloondarone which is two and a half miles from Tuam and east of it. Then we had to create a new political peninsula and cross out again quickly to the River Clare and then fall in with the terms of reference of the Government to the boundaries commission when they said that they should take into account the existing electoral divisions in Dáil elections. We only suited ourselves on that aspect of it.
We proceeded rapidly again southwestward until we arrived at Cashla, Athenry. Athenry is seven miles from Galway city and four and a half miles from the new city boundary. Shrule Bridge is 26 miles from the city boundary. Unless one has a map one cannot understand what I am referring to but the Minister knows quite well what I am saying because he understands the political geography. Then we came to Cashla, two miles from Athenry and took Athenry which in every election since the foundation of the State was part of North Galway and we put it in with Loughrea. We swung quickly in to give, like County Leitrim has, about a mile and a half of a sea front to that new Galway environment constituency and made it into six seats. I am certain that this independent commission had to seek all this information from the Department of the Environment because they could not get it from anywhere else. They travelled to Galway and spent a half day with the chairman and manager of the county council and the other half of the day with the mayor of the city and his staff. I am sure all that data could not be processed into two short meetings. The chairman of the commission after that visit could not say to me — I do not believe he could say it to anybody —"I now have a perfect map of the county and I know where the line should be drawn and I am going to go back up to Dublin and do it".
That commission had to — this is where the principle of commissions is wrong — go back to the Department of the Environment to get information. That is where a good Minister for his party, would put the whole thing into motion and feed out the responses through the Department to the commission in the way he knows he would get answers to suit his political party. I am absolutely convinced that that is what happened.