Groundswell of support for return to status quo in Galway East

As it was...the three Galway East TDS elected last time out (from left) Sean Canney, Anne Rabbitte and Ciaran Cannon. Pic Gerry Stronge

The political groundswell has gathered pace to restore the old Galway East constituency to the county boundary – numerous submissions have been made to the new Boundary Commission to eliminate that section of the constituency that is in Roscommon.

Proponents want the stretch from Ballinasloe town all the way across to Williamstown, Glenamaddy and Dunmore restored to Galway East – in the last general election it formed part of the newly formed Roscommon-Galway constituency.

There was huge controversy when Ballinasloe was removed from Galway East and especially when it was the county town and had its own elected Urban District Council, which set and collected its own rates on behalf of Galway County Council.

A reduced Galway East then became a three-seater as, indeed, did Roscommon Galway but this is one submission to the Constituency Boundaries Commission to include every part of the county on east of Galway city into a new five-seater – again, in order the maintain the county boundary.

The constituency commission invited submissions on if and how any new commissions would be drawn up – the current situation in Galway East has been the source of huge critical debate.

In one submission, the Kevin Barry Cumann at NUI Galway said that the east part of the county had been disenfranchised and isolated by being part of another constituency.

“Natural boundaries of townlands and villages have been divided as in the cases of Clonfert, Eyrecourt and Kiltormer, which has been a hindrance to community and parish cohesion.

“It is the recommendation of our members that the Galway East should comprise of the Municipal District areas of Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam and Athenry-Oranmore.

“The population of these areas, as per the 2016 census preliminary results, would merit five Dáil seats,” they stated in their submission.

There are numerous submissions advocating that Ballinasloe and the rest of east Galway be brought back from Roscommon and restored to the one constituency.

A Ballinasloe Fianna Fail submission, signed by the long-serving Nancy Cregg, said that they wanted the county boundary restored and added that it was a totally unnatural divide.

They want it back to four seats with the stretch from Ballinasloe town across to Dunmore back in with Galway East. The party said there was a lot of apathy in these areas when it came to canvassing in a Roscommon-dominated constituency.

FF’s Deputy Anne Rabbitte pointed out that the county town should never has been removed as people do not want effectively to be removed from their county.

Meanwhile’s Cllr Aidan Donohue of Fine Gael, who could well be a potential candidate himself if the boundary was restored, said that there were people living the constituency who had no affiliation with Roscommon. It is also difficult for councillors from Galway to represent people in a different constituency.

Of course, any move to change the constituency would be resisted by sitting Minister Denis Naughten who certainly availed of some of the 20,000 votes that were there for the plucking on the Galway end of the constituency.