Under the last constituency boundary changes, a small portion of Meath East was moved into Cavan Monaghan to permit West Cavan revert to its traditional home and the number of TDs increased from four to five in time for the 2020 General Election.

Slice of Meath should be returned to home constituency

A slice of County Meath stranded in the Cavan-Monaghan constituency should be returned to its traditional constituency, suggest a number of submissions made to the Electoral Commission. A record number of submissions were this year received for the constituency review, which attempts to fairly address anomalies for Dáil and MEP elections across the Republic. Of the 556 submissions received by the Commission from interested groups and individuals, 14 related to Cavan-Monaghan constituency.

The over-riding concern relating to Cavan-Monaghan is the seven County Meath electoral areas, which were severed from Meath East and transferred into this constituency under recommendations from the last review in 2017.

The fate of Meath East was one previously experienced by West Cavan when it was sliced from Cavan Monaghan and added to a patchwork constituency, which included Sligo, Leitrim and South Donegal.

Deputy Brendan Smith (FF), who was prominent in the campaign to have West Cavan returned to Cavan-Monaghan constituency in time for the 2020 General Election, this year made a submission to the Commission on behalf of his Royal County constituents.

It was the success of the ‘Reunite Cavan’ campaign that inadvertently led to the partition of East Meath. The circa 400 Meath votes were required to pass the population threshold to justify five Dáil seats.

In his detailed submission, the Fianna Fáil deputy notes the preliminary census results, which show the population of Cavan has grown by 6.6% to 81,201 since the previous census; while Monaghan’s population has swollen by 5.6% to 64,832 in the same period.

“The total combined population of the two counties alone now stands at 146,033 – a population size that warrants and justifies five Dáil seats,” Deputy Smith asserts.

He further notes that by returning to the Cavan-Monaghan county borders, the constituency more closely meets the target population of 27,950 per TD.

“This would bring a two-county Dáil constituency of Cavan Monaghan more in line with the national average,” he said.

Deputy Smith observes that the Meath constituents stranded in Cavan-Monaghan constituency have a natural affinity with their own county, and that should be respected. “Though it is a privilege to represent the seven Meath electoral areas, it is only fair to say that people in that area have never readily identified with Cavan-Monaghan as their constituency and would, understandably, much prefer to be part of Meath.” Similar submissions were made by Senator Robbie Gallagher (FF), and Peter McLoone, Chairperson of Fianna Fáil Meath East CDC. One Meath East resident, Peter Ludlow outlined in his submission: “Our affiliations are very much with County Meath in all areas of day to day life. We have a Meath TD living three miles from us and yet we cannot vote for that person. Our nearest existing TD is some 23 miles away! “It just makes no sense to have us, in this little area of County Meath, hived off just to make up the numbers in the Monaghan/Cavan constituency, particularly as we really have no tangible day to day business or social connection with Monaghan/Cavan.” The Electoral Commission’s Constituency Review recommendations will be presented to the Oireachtas by August 30 at the latest.

A further factor in the Commission’s determinations is the request by the Oireachtas to make a recommendation to increase the number of TDs from the current 160 up to between 171 and 181 TDs for the next election.