Redrawing of South Dublin political map sees winners and losersMike Finnerty 05 Sep 2023
The publication of the Electoral Commission’s constituency reviews is akin to Eurovision or Christmas for political geeks, and there is a lot to digest for voters in South Dublin.
Significant changes to electoral areas and two extra TDs are the headline-grabbers from the report, with the political map of South Dublin undergoing something of a makeover.
Dublin Mid-West joins Dublin South-West in having 5 seats up for grabs, while Dublin Rathdown has gained a seat to bring its total up to 4.
Dublin Bay South, Dublin South-Central and Dun Laoghaire remain on 4 seats.
While much has been written about the abundance of 3-seater constituencies across Ireland and indeed just up the coast on the Northside, the South Dublin constituencies have a lot to shout about, with Fine Gael chipper about their electoral hopes as a result of the new boundaries.
Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill tweeted she was “very sorry to lose the Foxrock area as a TD after the election but I know my colleagues Josepha Madigan and Neale Richmond will be proud to have the opportunity to look for their support in the next election.”
The transfer of Foxrock and more electoral areas surrounding Leopardstown was welcomed by Madigan, saying she was “delighted to welcome” them into the Dublin Rathdown constituency.
“I have proudly served the people of Rathdown as a TD since 2016 and look forward to continuing to do so with the added areas.”
While Wicklow-Wexford will serve as the backdrop to a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome-style showdown between the under-pressure Simon Harris and Stephen Donnelly, the Minister-heavy constituency of Dublin Rathdown can be forgiven for thinking they’ve escaped the “group of death” in this set of boundary changes.
Indeed, the three current TDs for Dublin Rathdown, Madigan, Richmond and RTÉ battler Catherine Martin will welcome the addition of an extra seat.
An Rabharta Glas councillor Liam Sinclair commented that Tallaght being split between Dublin South-West and Dublin Mid-West was “insane.”
“It is insane that an area with a distinct character and personality like Tallaght is split across two constituencies,” he said, pointing to Tallaght and Tallaght-Kilnamanagh being transferred to Dublin South-West, but the area of Tallight-Fettercairn is being transferred to Dublin Mid-West.
Dublin Mid-West, the stomping ground of Eoin Ó’Broin and Mark Ward, may well see Sinn Féin run a third candidate in the constituency considering Ó’Broin and Ward scooped nearly 43% of first preference votes between them in 2020.
Dublin South-Central, where Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh took home 39.3% of first preferences last polling day, will see part of the Kimmage electoral division added, and with the retirement of Bríd Smith confirmed, Sinn Féin might chance their luck with a running mate for Ó Snodaigh.
With 88 seats now needed for a majority, Mary Lou McDonald’s proposed Haughey-style strategy of running at least one candidate in every constituency across the country may encourage her to really get bang for their buck and run a third candidate alongside Ó’Broin and Ward if they are to make up the next Government.
Dublin Bay South remaining on 4 seats will make the constituency one to watch at the next election, with Sinn Féin’s Chris Andrews, Labour leader Ivana Bacik, Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan all looking to fend off challenges to their seat.
An extra seat being added to Dublin Bay South seemed unlikely according to the Electoral Commission, with the report noting a “modest” population increase of 5.8% since the last time the constituencies were redrawn as the major factor in it remaining as a 4-seater.
Considering back a seat in Dublin Bay South is a major target for Fine Gael next time around, popcorn will be in high demand among political anoraks the next time the nation goes to the polls.
The constituency is also losing nearly 4,000 voters from Kimmage as part of the changes.
Discussing the changes, Green Party representative and local election candidate Feljin Jose told Southside People “I think it’s a mixed bag for us and for other parties. Some of the changes are good for us, some aren’t – that’s the way these reviews always go.”
Of course, this is only one set of reviews; Jose points out the Electoral Commission is now a permanent fixture in Irish politics, which makes future changes like this “much easier.”
As many as 21 seats could have been added to the Dáil, and Jose said “I expected a few more seats to be added if I’m honest.”
“We’re currently experiencing a period of rapid population growth and it’s clear that the boundaries and number of seats will have to change again after the next census. The Electoral Commission is now a permanent body and that makes changes like this much easier.”
“For an election nerd like me, it’s good to know that we’ll get to have all this fun again in a few years!”