Expanded Euro constituency bizarrely makes more sense

World of Politics with Harry McGee

For years I have been saying that two of the three constituencies in the European elections make no sense. If you are an MEP for Dublin, there’s no difficulty in letting people know what part of the country you stand for. For the other two constituencies, it’s a smorgasbord, as our Swedish friends would say.

The South constituency is massive and takes in the whole of Munster plus a raft of counties in South Leinster. So you have both Wicklow, which includes suburbs of the capital, and west Cork in the same constituency.

The worst is Midlands-North-West. The clue is in the name there. It’s a mess. There are counties from three provinces in it and it goes all the way from Inishowen in Donegal to within 10k of Dublin City Centre.

Until this week there were 13 counties in it. And now, following the decision of the Electoral Commission, there are 15 with the addition of Laois and Offaly.

The decision was widely expected and evoked little surprise. Since Ireland was given an extra seat for the next European Parliament (because of population growth) all the speculation has been to the seat going to this constituency.

Is this a good or a bad thing? Well, even though I’m not a fan of these sprawling constituencies where it’s hard to have a sense of belonging, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Counterintuitively, the addition of Laois and Offaly gives the constituency a bit more definition. When I think of the midlands, I think of Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, West Kildare, South Longford and East Roscommon. Mostly, though I think of Laois and Offaly. So adding those two counties joins them back to what I consider to be their more natural hinterland.

Pictured: Seán Ó Neachtain… defied the odds in Euro election.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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