Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, announced today (15th November 2012) that he has established a Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee.
The Committee will review and make recommendations on local electoral area boundaries in the context of the results of census 2011 and the Action Programme for Effective Local Government published on 16 October 2012. The Minister has asked the committee to report to him as soon as possible and in any event no later than 31 May 2013.
The Minister has appointed the following persons to the Committee:
· Mr. Gerry Kearney, former Secretary General in the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs who will act as Chairman
· Mr. Joe Beirne, former Director of Services, Mayo County Council
· Professor Gary Murphy, Head of the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University
· Mr. Peter McCann, former Principal Officer in the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
· Ms. Marian Vickers, Chief Executive, Northside Partnership Dublin
The Minister said that the establishment of the Committee is an important next step in implementing the Action Programme for Effective Local Government and in reforming local government structures. The review will have a specific goal of achieving a much better balance and consistency in representational ratios, while taking particular account of factors such as the location of towns in the new municipal governance arrangement. The terms of reference for the review also ensure that there will be adequate representational and governance provision in lower population counties.
In carrying out its work, the committee must have regard to the Action Programme for Effective Local Government and in particular the proposals for a new municipal district structure for local government in counties outside Dublin. The recommendations on local electoral areas will provide the basis for the configuration of municipal districts. The Committee will also have regard to the decision of Government to merge the councils of Limerick City and Limerick County, North Tipperary and South Tipperary and Waterford City and Waterford County and make recommendations accordingly.
The terms of reference of the Committee are as follows:
TERMS OF REFERENCE
To review and make recommendations on the division of each council area, other than Cork City, into local electoral areas, and to make recommendations on the number of members of each council to be assigned to each local electoral area.
The Committee should have regard to the population as ascertained at census 2011, to the Government’s Action Programme for Effective Local Government and to the decision of Government to merge the councils of Limerick City and Limerick County, North Tipperary and South Tipperary, Waterford City and Waterford County and make its recommendations accordingly.
(a) The recommendations on local electoral areas will provide the basis for the configuration of the municipal districts to be established in counties outside Dublin. Local electoral areas should be formulated to facilitate this and the Committee should have regard to the Government’s Action Programme for Effective Local Government in doing this.
(b) Generally, each municipal district will consist of a single electoral area. However in some particular circumstances, for example for reasons such as geographic coherence, population, or other factors related to the configuration of municipal districts such as the definition of ‘metropolitan’ municipal districts within the unified authorities in Limerick and Waterford, a district may comprise more than one local electoral area.
Local electoral areas should be designed, as far as possible, around the existing boroughs and other municipal towns and large urban centres which do not currently enjoy municipal status. Local electoral areas should generally be named accordingly.
In recommending changes to local electoral areas, the Committee should take due account of local and community identities and linkages and, as far as practicable, of existing local authority electoral and administrative areas.
The number of councillors representing a local electoral area should typically be 7 and not more than 10 or less than 6.
Within any city or county the variance in representation of each local electoral area from the average for the city or county should, as far as practicable, be within a range of +/- 10%.
The number of members shall be fixed at 63 in Dublin City Council. The number of members shall be fixed at 55 in Cork County Council.
Subject to a minimum total of 18 and a maximum total of 40 members of every other council-
· there should be one member for every 4,830 population in each council area;
· in addition, and subject to a maximum of four additional members per council except where councils are merging:
In counties where there are existing town councils there should be four additional members per Borough Council and one additional member per Town Council, and
In cases where the city and county councils are being merged, i.e. Limerick and Waterford, there should be five additional members.