26 November 2017

“Arising from the 2016 Census and the 2017 Constituency Commission Report the next Dáil must have more members than the current Dáil to stay within the rules as set by the Constitution.

“If the Oireachtas does not legislate to increase number of TDs the next Dáil Éireann will be in breach of the Constitution. Failure to enact legislation before a General election takes place would expose the newly elected Dáil to constitutional challenge as it would contain a fatal democratic deficit.

“Tomorrow morning, I intend to apply to the High Court for Declarations that legislation is necessary and if necessary to prevent the Taoiseach from dissolving the Dáil until such time as legislation is enacted to bring membership of Dáil Éireann to its correct level and to ensure that population requirements for each Dáil Deputy is within the parameters laid down in the Constitution.

“Census 2016 revealed that there was a growth in population of 170,000 people nationwide since the previous census returns in 2011. A Constituency Boundary Commission was established by the Government to bring proposals to remedy the democratic deficit created in Dáil representation.

“The Commission in its recommendations made it clear that an increase in Dáil membership and a change in Dáil constituencies is required due to the substantial population increase and to fulfil constitutional imperatives.

“To date the Government has failed to bring forward enabling legislation to effect the necessary changes. Thus a new Dáil elected on the basis of the old 2011 Census figures would be substantially out of kilter with constitutional requirements.

“Article 16.2.2 of the Constitution is crystal clear in stating that:

” The total number of members of Dáil Éireann shall not be fixed at less than one member for each thirty thousand of the population or at more than one member for each twenty thousand of the population.”

“The Constituency Commission has advised that arising from the 2016 census the next Dáil must contain between 159 and 238 members, and it recommended that it have 160 members. The current number, which would be applicable if an election were called now, is 158 – which is in breach of the Constitution.

“A good example of the issues at stake is to be found in my own constituency of Dublin Central which would be one of the least represented Constituencies in the State . At present, following the increase in numbers demonstrated in the 2016 Census, it falls outside the parameters of the 20,000 to 30,000 population specified in the Constitution. To remedy this democratic deficit the Boundary Commission has recommended that an additional cohort of population be added to Dublin Central and that it have an additional TD, to again become a four-seat constituency.

“Failure to implement the Boundary Commission’s recommendations would seriously breach Art. 16.2.2 of the Constitution and would leave the people of Dublin Central without the representation they are entitled to have in a new Dáil.

“I will be asking the High Court to make a determination that dissolution of the Dáil and the calling of a General Election at this time before the democratic deficit is addressed through legislation would be in breach of the Constitution.”

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