CONFIRMATION that the population of the county has shown a five per cent increase could see a return of the Donegal North East and Donegal South West constituencies, and a return to six TDs in Donegal.
The recently created Electoral Commission is already examining Dáil boundaries and is expected to report its findings by the end of August.
Since 2012, Donegal has been served by one constituency, electing five TDs. Controversially, nine electoral area divisions in south Donegal are part of the neighbouring Sligo-Leitrim constituency.
But that may all be about to change again. The latest summary Census figures published this week show a five per cent increase in the population of the county in Census 2022. The number of citizens in the county on Census night, Sunday, April 3, 2022 was 167,084.
These figures may lead to a redrawing of the Dáil constituencies in line with the Constitution which requires one TD to represent between 20,000 and 30,000 people.
The possibility of the change was welcomed this week by outgoing Fine Gael TD and former Minister Joe McHugh(pictured).
He confirmed to the Donegal News that he is definitely not seeking re-election in 2025.
“I have my mind made up. I am not standing in the next general election,” he said.
“On the issue of the constituency boundaries I did make a submission to the Electoral Commission proposing that Donegal become an electoral area respecting county boundaries.
“Anyone I spoke to from South Donegal wants to be part of the Donegal constituency. I don’t think it is fair and proper that people in the south of the county are part of North Roscommon, Leitrim and Sligo.
“It is too diverse an area for all of them to be represented that way. I think we should go back to the two three seat constituencies,” Deputy McHugh said.
He added that the Fine Gael organisation is waiting until the Electoral Commission makes its decision by the end of August before deciding on how many candidates to run. The decision cannot go beyond September as parties in the constituencies will need to begin organising for the general election.
John Lohan who worked in Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s office is overseeing the organisation of the party in Donegal.
Based on the new Census figures it is anticipated that Donegal will get a sixth Dáil seat which will see the county revert to the status quo which operated from 1981 to 2011.
The impact for the political parties and independents will be substantial ahead of the next general election which must be held by the start of March 2025.
The Electoral Commission received 556 submissions from elected representatives, political parties, academics, sports and community groups and interested individuals.