National Loan, 1959. - Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1959—Second Stage.

Wednesday, 28 October 1959

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 177 No. 3

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Minister for Local Government (Mr. Blaney): Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the constitutional provisions for the revision of Dáil constituencies. [378] These provisions are quoted in the explanatory memorandum which was circulated to Deputies with the Bill, and it is unnecessary for me to take up the time of the House by quoting them again here.

Under the Bill, it is proposed to reduce the number of constituencies from 40 to 39 and the number of Deputies from 147 to 142, or two less than the maximum permitted by the Constitution on the basis of a population of 2,898,264 as ascertained at the census in April, 1956. These provisions of the Bill will, if accepted by the Oireachtas, come into effect on the next dissolution.

In deciding to recommend to the Oireachtas a close adherence to the maximum number of Deputies permitted by the Constitution, we were influenced by the consideration to which the former Taoiseach referred in the House last January. From each Dáil a Government must be formed and, assuming that the membership of the House is divided into two approximately equal groups, representing Government and Opposition, then you will have only half the total membership of the House from which to choose the members of the Government and Parliamentary Secretaries. I do not think that the fact that two Ministers can be appointed from among the membership of the Seanad is significant to this argument. It would obviously be undesirable to have the number of Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries too high a proportion of the Government side of the House.

Many Deputies on the other side of the House supported the arguments then for maintaining the membership of the Dáil at, or near, the maximum permitted by the Constitution. I am sure that Deputy Dockrell, Deputy O. J. Flanagan and Deputy O'Sullivan will not take it amiss if I refer to some of the arguments they used. Deputy O'Sullivan referred to the fact that as many as one-third of an outgoing Dáil may fail to secure reelection at a general election. This limits severely the pool of experienced legislators from which a Government [379] or Opposition may be formed. The other Deputies referred to the amount of work which a Deputy must perform on behalf of his constituency or as chairman or member of Dáil committees, and pointed to the obvious risk of increasing this burden unduly by a severe reduction in the total Dáil membership.

The allocation of the numbers of Deputies to be returned by each constituency is governed by subsection 3 of Section 2 of Article 16 of the Constitution which provides that the ratio between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, so far as it is practicable, be the same throughout the country.

In applying this Article, we must, as a legislative assembly, have regard to special circumstances and the practical problems facing a Deputy who takes a responsible view of his duties. In general, such special circumstances are mainly geographical or topographical, though in some cases the claim for special consideration on these grounds may be reinforced by economic factors. As evidence of the importance of such economic factors in particular areas, I need only refer to the legislation dealing with the Gaeltacht or undeveloped areas which the Oireachtas has enacted. One principle, however, which I submit is fundamental in the matter, is that it should be made as convenient as possible for all citizens who may wish to interview their Deputy on any serious matter affecting themselves, their neighbours, or their district, to do so.

Equally it should be made as convenient as possible for a Deputy to keep in touch with his constituents. Indeed, it is more than a matter of convenience for, as we all know, it is in a Deputy's ability to keep in touch with the affairs and interests of his constituents conscientiously and continually, that much of his strength and value to the House and to the nation lies. This presents a very practical problem in some of the large sprawling rural constituencies. As [380] Deputy O'Sullivan said when speaking on an amendment to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill last January:—

“Consequently, it is vital that we should have taken into account not alone the factor of population in deciding the outlines of constituencies and the membership of the House, but also that we should bear in mind that in rural constituencies Deputies are called upon to do a great deal of travelling in order to maintain that contact with the electorate which is desirable, if they are to reflect public opinion.”

That is from the Dáil Debates, Vol. 172, No. 2, Col. 242.

The extent of the variation in the density of distribution of the population can be quite startling. In Dublin City, the number of persons per 100 acres is 1,892. In County Dublin, it is 83. In Cork City, the figure is 2,391 which is considerably higher than in Dublin City. At the other end of the scale is County Clare where the figure is 9.8 persons per 100 acres. I do not think that any Deputy would suggest that such discrepancies should be ignored in the interests of statistical uniformity.

The people a rural Deputy represents are not, for the most part, concentrated in small areas but are scattered over a wide area and sometimes in remote and rather inaccessible places. Such people do not enjoy the same facilities for consulting with a Deputy as people who live close to, or in the same town or city as their representative. At this point I might mention that people in such areas are generally entitled to a greater variety of State benefits, some of these provided exclusively for such areas, than people living in the more fertile districts, and consequently they have to enlist the aid of a Deputy more frequently.

The nature of the western seaboard adds considerably to the difficulties of a Deputy in keeping in touch with his constituency. I may be permitted to mention my own constituency of East Donegal. Travelling from Fanad Head to Malin Head—two points distant 12 miles apart as the crow flies—involves [381] a journey of 88 miles. This is further than a journey from Dublin to Monaghan and almost as far as from Dublin to Thurles. Much the same instances of cases where long journeys over mountainous territory have to be made could be given in the case of the other western constituencies.

I need hardly emphasise that a mere recital of distances and special circumstances can give only a faint idea of the amount of work which a Deputy, representing a constituency in these counties, may have to do if he is to keep in touch with his constituents and gather from them their views on matters of immediate day-to-day concern on which each Deputy must depend as the basis for the views and opinions which he himself will express, and seek to promote in this House. The difficulties of keeping in touch are clearly out of proportion to those of an urban Deputy who is elected to represent an area of high population density.

It is for these reasons that the proposals made in the Bill may appear, if viewed in a purely statistical light, to err on the side of leniency, so far as rural representation is concerned. In our view, however, they go as far as it is practicable to go to ensure equal representation for urban and rural constituencies alike in compliance with the constitutional provisions.

In the 12 years since the last revision took place, changes in population, as recorded in the census taken in 1956, by which we must be guided in this matter, have thrown the ratio of population per member in many constituencies seriously out of line. In the County Dublin constituency, the ratio is one member to each 45,153 of the population—by far the highest ratio in the country. In the adjoining constituency of Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown, it is 33,921 to each member. On the other hand, in the city, the ratios are in many instances extremely low. It will be a surprise to many people to know that in Dublin North (Central), largely because of Corporation slum clearance and demolition work, the ratio had fallen, at the time the 1956 census was taken, to as low as one member to each 14,120 of the population. In South (Central), [382] it is one member to each 17,324 and in the constituency of Dublin South (East) it is one member to each 18,325.

The extension of the city boundary affords a convenient way of lessening these disparities. At this point, I may perhaps be permitted to remind Deputies that the areas brought within the city do not automatically become part of the city constituencies. Large areas in what is now the city of Dublin have, up to the present, remained in the County Dublin constituency. Those areas, which include the Artane, Baldoyle, Ballyfermot, Beann Éadair. Coolock, Crumlin West, Finglas East, Finglas West, Rathfarnham South and Santry Wards, contain a population, according to the 1956 census, of 70,916. Unfortunately, this population was insufficient to bring the city constituencies up to the average for the Dublin area as a whole and we found it necessary to propose a departure from the city boundary to make up the deficiency. The most suitable area for this purpose, from the point of view of size and homogeneity, was that about Dundrum, Merrion, Milltown and Roebuck, containing in all a population of 22,687; and we propose the addition of this area to the city for the purposes of Dáil elections.

The changes in the city constituencies follow more or less as a corollary of these alterations. On the north side, the new constituencies will generally be the same as the old ones but will include the contiguous areas from the county constituency and some minor modifications to make the new constituencies conform with the ward boundaries.

On the south side, our task was complicated by the necessity to which I have referred, of going outside the city boundary for the requisite additional population. The new constituencies on the south side depart, unavoidably, to a greater extent than the north side constituencies from existing administrative boundaries, though this departure is not so serious as it may seem at first sight.

The area around Dundrum, Merrion, Milltown and Roebuck is made up of complete townlands. It is proposed to [383] include this area in the South (East) constituency. The area is urban in character and its interests are not incompatible with those of the rest of the constituency. The same applies to the area in the Rathmines West ward which will also be added to the South (East) constituency to balance the loss of portion of the Pembroke East and Pembroke West wards to Dublin South (Central).

The South (West) constituency will lose portion of Rathmines West ward to South (East) and portion of Kilmainham ward to South (Central) and, on its outer boundary, will gain the Ballyfermot, Crumlin West and Rathfarnham South wards.

I have dealt by implication with the accretions to the South (Central) constituency which will result from these changes.

The new boundary of the county constituency will follow the city boundary from Baldoyle to Churchtown where it will leave it to follow the old union and rural district boundary southwards to the county boundary. At present the boundary of the county constituency in this area leaves the city boundary at Templeogue and follows the western boundaries of the district electoral divisions of Rathfarnham and Whitechurch southwards to the county boundary. The change here means a gain to the county of the two district electoral divisions from the Dun Laoghaire and Rathdown constituency.

In addition to this loss, the Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown constituency will cede the area about Dundrum, Merrion, Milltown and Roebuck which will be transferred to the South (East) constituency and, on the south, the part of the district electoral division of Rathmichael which was transferred to County Wicklow in 1957. This last change does not involve much territory and the population in the area amounts to 774. The change is proposed in accordance with our policy of conforming with present administrative boundaries to the greatest possible extent.

[384] Our task of dealing with population changes in other areas did not involve quite so many alterations as in the Dublin area. In each of the four constituencies of Cavan, Longford-Westmeath, Roscommon and Wexford we propose a reduction of one member without any alteration in the boundaries.

The Cork area is, after Dublin, that containing the largest concentration of population in the country, with a total representation at present of 17 Deputies.

We propose no change in the present representation or boundaries of Cork city constituency but a reduction is proposed in the number of members to be returned by the county from 12 to 11, as well as a re-drawing of the constituency boundaries in the county so as to constitute one five-member constituency in mid-Cork and two three-member constituencies in East Cork and West Cork to replace the four existing three-member constituencies.

In County Limerick, a minor change is proposed in order to transfer some of the surplus population from East Limerick to West Limerick. The number involved is 2,582.

Since the last constituency revision, a small part of County Dublin, as I have mentioned, has been added to County Wicklow and now forms part of the Bray urban district, and the Waterford County Borough has been extended to include an area which was formerly in County Kilkenny. It is proposed in the Bill to alter the boundaries of the Wicklow and Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown constituencies as well as the boundaries of the Carlow-Kilkenny and Waterford constituencies in order to make them conform with the changed administrative boundaries.

The provisions of the Bill itself follow the lines of the 1947 Act and do not, I think, need any elaborate explanation at this stage.

In conclusion, I may perhaps save Deputies some expenditure of time and trouble in calculation by saying that the Bill provides for eight five-member [385] and nine four-member constituencies and for exactly the same number of three-member constituencies as exist at present, namely, twenty-two. There are at present nine five-member and nine four-member constituencies.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  It seems to me that the Minister delved into Dáil reports for quotations from Opposition Deputies even before he began his speech on this Bill and that indicates that even before he is attacked he is on the defensive. He has good grounds for that belief. So far as we are concerned, this Party recognises the fact that the introduction of this Bill is a constitutional requirement and in so far as the principle involved in the Bill is the principle of compliance with the constitutional requirements, naturally we must, and we do accept that principle. But I must suggest to the Minister that strict adherence to the constitutional requirements on his part, as Minister standing over this Bill, is necessary and were it not for the fact that he referred to it in the explanatory memorandum which he issued in connection with the Bill—I think he also referred to it in his speech—I should have thought the Minister was not aware of the constitutional provision when he drafted this Bill.

As set out in the explanatory memorandum, the provision dealing with the revision of constituencies and the rules to be adhered to when that revision takes place is set out in Article 16 of the Constitution. Article 16.2.3º requires that the ratio between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency, and the population of each constituency as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, so far as it is practicable, be the same throughout the country.

I have studied the Minister's reply to Parliamentary Questions put down to him last week asking for certain figures in relation to the changes he proposes to make and I find that on those figures the Minister proposes to the House that there should be four constituencies with a lesser population than 17,000 per seat, while there are [386] five constituencies with more than 23,000 per seat. Does the Minister seriously consider that, having regard to that discrepancy between the figures of population per seat in these four constituencies, on the one hand and the five, on the other, there is any true proportion being maintained in this Bill as required by the Constitution when it says that the ratio, as far as practicable, shall be the same throughout the country?

Under the Bill, the broad line is that there are 19 constituencies with less than 20,000 population per seat; there are 20 constituencies with more than 20,000 per seat. Of those with less than 20,000, seven constituencies have less than 18,000 population per seat; 11 constituencies have more than 22,000 population per seat and I have already said there are four with less than 17,000 and five with more than 23,000.

The constitutional requirements, I suggest, are not being complied with in the Bill which the Minister has presented to us. The ratio required by the Constitution is not being maintained. The Minister himself conceded that when he said—if I heard him aright— that the Government were erring on the side of leniency, so far as rural constituencies were concerned. I should like the Minister to ponder over that statement made by himself in opening this discussion. He concedes straight away that the Government are erring on the side of leniency so far as rural areas are concerned.

I have read the Constitutional provision governing this matter. As far as I can see, the Constitution does not allow for errors on the side of leniency or any other side by the Government. The Constitution lays down a general rule which must be adhered to by the Minister or by any other Minister who follows him in revising a Dáil constituency. Yet we have here in the opening of this discussion an admission by the Minister to the House that in drafting this legislation he has erred on the side of leniency for the sake of the rural constituencies.

This Bill has been described as the Government's revenge on Dublin for the defeats which this Government met [387] at the hands of the electorate of Dublin. It will certainly take far more than the statement which the Minister for Local Government made this afternoon to rid the people of Dublin of that impression. The present Government faced the electors of Dublin on three occasions in recent months and on each of these occasions they suffered a rebuff at the hands of the electorate of Dublin. They were defeated in their Referendum. They were defeated in the Presidential Election and they were defeated in a by-election in Dublin South (West). Is this the Government's answer to the people of Dublin?

We find in the legislation which the Government presents us with now that they are deliberately asking this House to adopt an Electoral Bill which makes the Dublinman's vote worth less than the countryman's vote and which makes the vote of the ordinary person in Dublin of less importance in electing a Dáil and a Government than the vote of his country colleague. Surely the constitutional provision set out in Article 16 of the Constitution is for the purpose of preventing Governments doing just that? Surely the whole idea behind the constitutional provisions governing this matter is that one vote will be of equal value to another vote, whether one lives in Donegal, Galway, Dublin or Cork? The Bill which the Government is asking us to accept is definitely a Bill which curtails the power and the value of the voters in Dublin.

I have not made the calculation as to the exact fractions concerned but, talking generally, it seems to me that what the Government are trying to do in this Bill is to ensure that the Dublinman's vote in future will be worth approximately only three-quarters of the value of the countryman's vote.

Is it unfair to the Government to ask the question whether or not that is being done because of the fact that, on three separate occasions in recent months, the people of Dublin voted against the present Government? It is no excuse for the Minister to refer to geographical or topographical [388] aspects in relation to rural constituencies. There might be some force in that argument if the Government were, in fact, reaching the maximum number of seats permitted by the Constitution but they are not.

They could deal with this matter by giving Dublin the additional seats to which the people of Dublin are entitled even without altering any other constituency or any other proposal made by the Government in this Bill. So far as other constituencies are concerned within the terms of the constitutional provisions there are still two seats which the Government could allocate to Dublin. They are not doing it and, because they are not doing it, they are reducing the value of the Dublinman's vote.

The Minister, in opening, already referred to this before there was a word uttered from this side of the House. He gave us quotations from speeches made by Deputies from this side of the House during the discussion on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. We do not imagine that any of the Deputies quoted by the Minister will withdraw what they said. It is a compliment to them and to this side of the House that their words should have taken such deep root in the mind of the Minister when he was preparing this Bill but there is not one of the Deputies quoted by the Minister who made the argument that there should be this inequality in the value of the votes as between one part of the country and the other.

As far as we on this side of the House are concerned, we accept the fact that this Bill is introduced because it must be introduced. It is required to be introduced by the Constitution and, for that reason, we are prepared to accept this Stage of the Bill but I want to give the Minister due notice of the fact that it will be necessary for him to give plenty of time for the Committee discussion on the Bill.

The Bill, naturally enough, is principally one for discussion in Committee. I want to ask the Minister at this stage to ensure that there is sufficient time allocated for the Committee [389] discussion on the Bill; that every Deputy will get an opportunity of having his say and that we shall not be discussing the Committee Stage of the Bill with the fear of the Government guillotine hanging over our heads.

It is not the fault of the Deputies on these Benches that this Bill was not introduced earlier. For the past 12 months or so the Government have occupied the time of this House and the attention of the people of this country in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. During that time this House could have been, and should have been, giving its attention to this Bill. The fact that the Bill, which according to my reading of the Constitution is required to be passed by the Oireachtas before the end of next month, is only introduced now practically at the end of October is entirely the fault of the present Government. Perhaps, I am technically incorrect there. I should have said the previous Government led by the present Uachtarán. This Government did not come into being until after that. However, it is the same Party even though it has a different leader. I take it that the present Taoiseach will accept responsibility for the actions of the Government which immediately preceded his.

My only reason for referring to this is to tell the Minister that I believe it essential there should be plenty of time given to the House in Committee. So far as this side of the House is concerned, we shall want that time. We shall want to consider this Bill fully in Committee. We shall want to have adequate time to study it, and put down amendments which appear to be desirable. I hope that the opportunity of doing this will be given by the Government.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  As far as I am aware, the Taoiseach, some few months ago, stated that in relation to distribution there would be little or no change and that, whatever changes might be effected, would be shown to affect the eastern side of the country more or less. It may happen that, since the statement made by the Taoiseach, there has been a realignment of forces within [390] the Government circles with advisers offering their services to the Minister and suggesting that the policy should be extended to make alterations in other areas.

I thoroughly agree with the Minister for Local Government in relation to the necessity for proper representation of the rural areas. I have never supported those people who, for various reasons, advocated a large reduction in the number representing the various constituencies of the Twenty-Six Counties. I have never agreed with the view that a reduction in the number of Deputies representing rural Ireland would make such a financial difference to the State that many of our problems would be solved overnight. On the other hand, I believe that larger representation gives the people the added advantage of a variety of representatives and gives a political Party the advantage, which is very important, of getting within its ranks members who may hold somewhat divergent views which combine to mould the outlook of the Party.

Let us take two constituencies of Monaghan and East Cork. They are not being affected by the Bill but, if they were, what a difference it would make to this House if we did not have amongst us the able representative of Monaghan in the person of Deputy Dillon and the outstanding personality from East Cork, Deputy Corry. I am being in no way sarcastic when I say that it must be admitted that, to the Parties of which they are members, they have brought a colour and talent that may have helped to keep their respective Parties within certain lines.

It would be a very sad day for any political Party if, by a reduction in the number of constituencies or seats, the membership of this House were reduced to such a state that most of the members would be merely “yes-men” of the Parties to which they belonged. Therefore, I thoroughly agree with the statement made by the Minister in relation to the rights of the people in rural areas to have fair and just representation in Dáil Éireann.

[391] As the Minister for Local Government said, if we take the distance between the two points in County Donegal to which he referred, the distance as the crow flies may be short. A member of Dáil Éireann or a candidate for Dáil Éireann cannot travel as the crow flies but must travel by road, in which case the distance cannot be shortened. The constituents who may wish to avail of the assistance of their representatives will have to travel the long way around also. Therefore, I fully appreciate the view of the Minister for Local Government as to the necessity for representation for the various interests in rural Ireland.

There are a few points to which I would like to draw attention and I hope the Minister will be more helpful when he is concluding the debate than he was in opening.

In respect of many constituencies a full list has been given of the electoral divisions. In some cases the list occupies half a column and in other cases a little more. In regard to the constituency which I have in mind, namely, Mid-Cork, instead of listing the various electoral divisions, we are informed that this new constituency will comprise the administrative county of Cork except the portions thereof which are comprised in the borough constituency of Cork and in the county constituencies of East Cork and West Cork. Of course, the plain truth is that if the Minister had supplied to the House in the Bill as presented the various electoral divisions of the proposed Mid-Cork constituency they would occupy at least two and a half pages.

The Minister referred to the population of North Cork county and Cork borough and county and perhaps wished to console himself for his reduction of representation from the county by one seat and his alteration of the boundaries by saying that the population was so high. In no other county is there such a differentiation as between the city and county. Waterford city and county are one as is shown in this proposal for Cork [392] unit, and rightly so. Limerick city is included with Limerick county. That is also the case in regard to Galway and other cities. That is quite correct.

In order to justify his line of approach in regard to this peculiar subject, the Minister finds it necessary to draw particular attention to the population of Cork borough and Cork county. Taking Cork borough and Cork county as one unit for population purposes, there are 17 members, five for the city and twelve for the county, each one representing 19,804 persons. If the Minister wishes to escape from the dilemma in relation to that figure, he can take the county, which at present carries twelve representatives, each one representing 18,713 persons, according to the 1956 census. The Minister considers that that is not enough. His answer has been to reduce the number of representatives from twelve to eleven and he then gives a figure for Cork county, that the eleven are to represent 20,415 persons. That seems fair provided the figures for other constituencies would stand the same examination, but can they?

While the Minister touched very briefly and politely on the position of County Donegal, he forgot that there are nine representatives in County Galway. I do not have to go into the Party alignment there; we all know it.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  The last refuge.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  The nine representatives in Galway, taking it as a county entity again, each represent 17,283 persons, which is somewhat lower than the County Cork figure at present.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Take the area.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  Fán nóimead.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Nine and seventeen —compare them.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  Even in this House it may be known as the city and perhaps the County of the Tribes now. That will emerge in the discussion of this Bill. We shall deal with the area. [393] I am taking counties with more than one constituency. In Kerry, where there are two constituencies and seven members, each member represents 17,439 people. Limerick is good; each of the seven members represents 19,696 people. In Tipperary, each member represents 18,487 people. That is a border line case and they too are entitled to their representation. But the outstanding case is Galway where each of the nine members represents 17,283 people. Mayo is good with each member representing 19,006 people, but then we come to Donegal and each member representing the tidy figure of 17,437 people.

Apparently, there is to be no change in these constituencies I have mentioned. In the future, provided there is no emigration, each Deputy will represent practically the same population as is shown in the 1956 census. What advice then prompted the Minister's brainwave in deciding that the figures obtained in County Cork were not sufficient? In South Cork, each Deputy represents 19,382 people; in East Cork, 19,448; in North Cork, 18,867 and in West Cork, 17,158. It would not have been hard for the Minister to bring up West Cork a little because in Cork Borough, each of the five Deputies represents 22,420 people. If the Minister were prepared to treat the problem on a non-political basis, the obvious solution would be to give a little of the western side of South Cork constituency to West Cork, to give a small part of the southern portion of North Cork to West Cork and a small portion of the city suburbs to South Cork.

Mr. Galvin: Information on John Galvin  Zoom on John Galvin  We want that.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  Of the five Deputies in Cork City, three represent the Government. Fianna Fáil are stronger in the suburban areas and the three city Deputies would not agree to a change in that area. That is the answer to it.

Will the Minister tell us why the position remains unchanged in Donegal West, where there are three members, each representing, according to the 1956 census, 16,700 people? Two out of the three members there represent [394] the Government. In East Donegal, three out of four members represent the Government, and each member represents 17,990 people. If the Minister were concerned about the minimum figure of 20,000 population, surely he could make Donegal a six-seat constituency and bring up the representation almost to 20,000 per Deputy; but, of course, on a political basis, that would not pay him. The Government hold two seats out of three in West Donegal and three out of four in East Donegal. Therefore, the attitude was: do not touch it. Of course, some repayment had to be given to a member who loyally supported the Government in their battle for the straight vote.

I challenge the Minister to prove why a change should be brought about in Cork County and why the representation there should be reduced from 12 to 11 members, while in Donegal and Galway and other counties where the Government could not possibly hope to improve the situation, the figures have been allowed to stand. In a written reply to a question to-day, the Taoiseach gave the figures of the numbers in the constituencies in 1947 after the last census in 1946. At that time in Galway West, each Deputy represented 18,995 people; in Galway South, the figure was 17,632; in Galway North, 18,438. Again we come to Donegal. In West Donegal each Deputy represented 19,775 people. Even Donegal East, 19,775 people. Even in view of the decreased population in Galway and in Donegal, is the Minister saying that, because he cannot find increased accommodation for his Party in those counties, he will leave things as they are, whereas in County Cork, where the Government could not hope to gain an extra seat, the number of Deputies is to be reduced, thus adversely affecting some Opposition Party? Cork County is being denied justice and the rural areas their fair proportion of representation.

One Minister is very interested in maritime affairs. I wish he would lecture the Taoiseach and the Minister for Local Government on the points of the compass. I expected that the Minister for Local Government, [395] coming from a seaboard area, would know the points of the compass, but obviously the Minister for Transport and Power will have to show him where he is wrong. Prior to 1937, the western side of Cork Harbour was known to be a part of the constituency of West Cork. From that point, right up to the Kerry boundary was West Cork.

In 1937 the Fianna Fáil Government decided to make a change. For various reasons they considered that that area was not truly within the compass of what might be termed the western area proper. That southern portion then was tacked on to a piece on the eastern side of Cork Harbour, and it was called South-East Cork. Again, probably because of the interest of certain prominent people in County Cork in the councils of the Fianna Fáil Party, it was appreciated that it would be more correct to call it South Cork. Truly, it is South Cork. Now, South Cork is to go.

We have been promised maps. So far they have not been forthcoming. When they are made available, I shall be pleased if any Deputy of this House, either on the Government benches or in Opposition, can show me on those maps how the western approach to Cork Harbour can now be considered as mid-Cork. I am afraid most of us will have to go back to school again and re-learn our geography.

The furthest point of the present South Cork constituency is a little village known as South Ring, about one mile south-east of the town of Clonakilty. It is pretty far removed from Cork City. Yet, it has been considered reasonable to include it now in Mid-Cork. If we take South Ring as the start of our journey and travel from there to the limit of this proposed new constituency of Mid-Cork, the journey entails a distance of roughly 100 miles. There are parts where it might possibly be longer. Again, from South Ring to the extreme limit of the present South Cork constituency, involves a journey of between 55 to 60 miles. Indeed, the shortest route would be nearly 60 miles.

[396] The Minister stressed in his statement how important it is that a constituency should be compact; how important it is that an elector in the constituency should find it convenient to call on his representative; how important it is that the Deputy representing the constituency should be in a position to represent it to the best of his ability. Can the Government claim that a representative of this proposed new constituency of Mid-Cork will be in a position to do his best for his constituents? Frankly, I do not think it would be humanly possible for any Deputy to do his best in such a constituency.

It may be the ambition of some to be elected to Dáil Éireann and, having been elected once, they will hope to have enough support to be re-elected at the subsequent election. But, first and foremost, each one of us must answer to his own conscience as to whether or not he is giving proper service to his constituents. None of us has a right to sit in this Chamber unless he is giving proper service to his constituents. That is one of the worries I can see in relation to this new constituency of Mid-Cork.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  What does the Deputy suggest we should do?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  I am prepared to put my cards on the table. I suggest that that piece should be given to West Cork. That will bring West Cork up to the Donegal and Galway figures. If that is not sufficient—I believe myself it is sufficient—take a piece of the western part of South Cork. Cork city, with 22,000 odd per Deputy, could afford to give a piece to South Cork. That would still mean three Deputies in each part of the county. Is there anything wrong in that?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The Deputy says, in effect, that we should leave Cork as it is.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  Exactly. There is another suggestion, and it is one which has the support of members of the Government Party; the suggestion is that Cork should be divided up in proportion to the Cork County Council health committees—the northern health [397] area, the western health area, and the south-eastern area. Four Deputies in each of these would give 12 representatives. That should be a workable proposition. At present there are three Deputies in South Cork. Three may be elected out of five following on this amalgamation. The remaining two will be honest enough to say that, even if they were elected, they could never hope to give proper service to their constituents around Millstreet, on the Kerry border around Rathmore, and up to the border of County Limerick. How could a man on the northern side of the proposed constituency be expected to give proper service to his constituents in the southern part of that constituency? That is the problem.

I endorse the remarks of the Minister in relation to what the approach should be to the problem of representation in the rural areas. I agree that representation should be on a basis which will give satisfaction to the people and not merely to the political Parties. That is the first essential that must be considered in the demarcation of the constituency boundaries. It is my wish here this afternoon, even with Deputy Donnellan on my side——

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Oh, not at all.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  ——to draw attention to the figures today and the figures of 10 years ago for Galway.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Take them for 50 years ago.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  In 1947, the average number per representative in Galway was 18,356. I am taking the whole county now. Today it is 17,284. It is below that in some areas. In Cork County, without any change, each of the 12 representatives represents 18,714 people. It is even higher in South Cork and in North Cork. I am taking the average. Taking the figures for Galway as having dropped, they still hold the same representation. Taking the figures for Cork, there is no justification for the reduction proposed in this Bill. Probably the Galwaymen and the Kerrymen have an advantage over other areas in that perhaps the case made for them was on the basis [398] of their being supporters of the G.A.A. rather than anything else. The point is that on the case submitted by the Minister there is no justification, in my opinion, for the proposed reduction in Cork. I should like to know from the Minister what justification he can give.

In the making of a new constituency with five members, there is to be a population of somewhat over 109,000 persons. In no other constituency with five members, outside of Dublin and Cork, is there such a high figure. In no constituency with five members are there 100,000 persons, and yet under this proposal, six members, or five, must now give service to over 109,000 people. Added to that problem, as the Leas-Cheann Comhairle is aware, is the fact that in South Cork each one of us represents 19,382 people.

We have another problem. In Cork city or borough area, out of the total population, there are between 33,000 and 34,000 living in the suburbs who come within the Cork city area for Dáil elections but for local authority business they come within the ambit of the Cork County Council. Therefore, the two members for South Cork who are also members for the Cork rural area on the Cork County Council, must give service to a higher percentage than does any member in any other part of the country, because in the Cork rural area for county council purposes, bringing in the city suburbs, each member must represent well over 8,000 people. That does not apply anywhere else. Though people in the suburban areas may not be in our Dáil constituencies, that does not give us, as members of Dáil Éireann, the right to forget them when they call for our services in relation to anything which may affect them, and particularly in relation to local authority business, because we are elected here as members of Parliament to serve the people to the best of our ability. Therefore, adding these 33,000 persons to the 109,000 we get in the so-called mid-Cork area, I can see a colossal problem confronting any man representing them, no matter to which Party he belongs.

The Minister glossed over the [399] reason in his opening remarks, and I hope he will be more explicit when concluding as to why he found it necessary or advisable to make changes in Cork county. No figures he can produce will support him in his claim and no figures will stand an examination in relation to any proposals for a change in Cork as against the other counties. If the Taoiseach himself gave another seat to the so-called mid-Cork area and made the number six instead of five, if that were to be a disadvantage to any other part of rural Ireland, I honestly would say to him: “Keep it.” I have no right to ask for extra representation for any part of Cork at the expense of any other county, but I again say that the Minister has no right, even in political manoeuvring, to deny representation to Cork when he is giving it to other counties which cannot possibly stand the same examination and scrutiny as Cork can.

On this stage of the Bill, I shall leave my remarks at that point. If the Minister shows how he has arrived at these figures, it will be interesting. I again say to the Taoiseach, by-passing the Minister, that alterations can be made within the boundaries of South Cork, West Cork and East Cork giving fair representation to all constituencies, fair representation to the people in the areas and satisfaction to Cork people as well as to supporters of the Minister and my colleague, Deputy Donnellan.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  The last few words of the previous speaker completely mesmerised me, so to speak, for the simple reason that, up to that point, his attack was on rural areas but he finished up by saying that if the Minister had some way out by giving another seat or two to Cork—I suppose they would take three if they got them —he would not mind rural areas. But in his speech his attack was on the rural areas.

So far as this Bill is concerned, I welcome it. There is no use in blaming the Minister for Local Government and saying that it has been prepared for political purposes. Any man who spent even a short time in Government knows that things are prepared which the [400] Minister must come in here and defend, many of them, any of them, which are not of his making. They are matters which have been decided by people who know and, have no doubt, the Minister for Local Government had no say in any change that may follow on the enactment of the Bill before the House tonight.

May I congratulate the Minister and say that so far as rural representation is concerned, and I say this as a Galwayman—I think there is only one other Galwayman in the House listening to me; I am looking for Deputy Killilea but I do not see him—they got due consideration. I listened to the Deputy from Cork——

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  The rural areas.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  I remember when I went to school, and that was quite a long time ago, I was taught the counties of Ireland. Cork, Galway, Mayo, Kerry and Tipperary were the largest counties at that time. I do not know if there has been a change since. I heard the Deputy from Cork—he is a good friend of mine—saying that they have only 17 seats, and that Galway has nine. He says they have nine in Galway and that they should not have it. There was the example. Cork, Galway, Mayo, Donegal, Kerry and Tipperary—the largest counties in Ireland. The Deputy who spoke represents Cork, the largest county, and they have 17 seats. Yet he said that the second-largest county should not have nine. That is ridiculous coming from a representative from Cork, although the Acting-Chairman is a Corkman, too.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  On a point of order. I would ask Deputy Donnellan not to misquote a Deputy. I never suggested they should have fewer than nine.

Acting-Chairman (Mr. MacCarthy): Information on Seán McCarthy  Zoom on Seán McCarthy  That is not a point of order. It is a point of explanation.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  It is important to have it straight.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  It is more important to some of the Deputies from Galway. I welcome this Bill and I [401] will vote for it as it stands because it gives consideration to rural Ireland. Deputy O'Higgins spoke about Dublin City. If the population of Dublin City or of Cork City is built up, may I ask where those people have come from? Have they not come from the rural areas? That is what has built up those populations in a few short years. They got chances and opportunities that our people in Galway, Mayo, Donegal, Sligo and Kerry did not get. Our children had to go there and that is what has built up the population in the cities. They will go there rather than emigrate to foreign countries. I do not blame the present Government for that. It has happened for generations in this country. They have the opportunity of getting employment in factories established in Dublin City, Cork City and in other cities and even in Belfast, if I may put it that way: we may as well take it in and the sooner the better. Our people have gone to those cities rather than emigrate to foreign countries.

I listened to some Deputies talk about the distances they have to travel in their constituencies and about the larger number of people that have to be represented in each constituency in Dublin City and in Cork City. Consider County Galway, which I have the honour to represent. The parish of Cleggan is the nearest parish to New York and the parish of Shannonbridge is the nearest parish to Leinster House. Nevertheless, we have only nine representatives. Take Cork City and Dublin City. A three-penny bus ticket would enable a Deputy to travel all over his area. What does it cost in Galway? I am one of three Deputies who represent that area. The distance between Ballinamore Bridge and Irishtown in Mayo is 75 miles. The distance between Ballymoe on the brink of the Suck and Clare-Galway on the brink of the Corrib is 80 miles. It is all very well to say that there are only 19,000 persons for each representative whereas in Cork City——

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  What about the Aran islands?

[402]Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  The Deputy can make a case for them himself. I am trying to point out the differences that exist in a city as against a rural area. I do not need to speak for Donegal as I see Deputy O'Donnell is here and the Minister himself is a Donegal man. The position there is somewhat similar to that in my county and somewhat the same as in Kerry. Apparently the idea in the minds of some people is to take all representation away from those rural areas. Somebody on this side of the House may say that so many people in Galway voted Fianna Fáil or did not vote Fianna Fáil and that so many people in Donegal, Mayo or Kerry voted in a certain way. It does not matter a damn how they voted. They are entitled to their representation. That is why I am supporting this Bill.

There are more representatives for Dublin City than for the whole province of Connacht. Is that fair? I do not think it is. It may be argued in the fashion in which Deputy O'Higgins argued it, but I hold that mathematics are only one aspect of the matter. How many people now residing in Dublin City had to leave the province of Connacht because they had to do so? These people are a loss to Connacht and to the Irish nation because if they could have remained in Connacht they would have produced raw materials, what I would call “new money,” for this country. By and large, the pattern in Connacht is the same as in Donegal and along the west coast. Instead, they came to the city and got a good job. However, they merely exchange money one way or the other. They would have been much more valuable to the nation if they could have remained in Connacht.

It is only nonsense to make a long speech on this Bill. I must congratulate the Minister on the Bill. I am voting for it just as it stands, word for word. It gives not accurate representation to rural Ireland—it never got that—but it is an attempt to help and, therefore, speaking on behalf of the group of which I am a member, we are supporting the Bill wholeheartedly. Even though we could find many more faults in this respect than representatives of Cork City or any area in [403] Cork, or Dublin City either, we are supporting the Bill because we consider it a good effort. We think it is the best than can be done at the moment. I hope that when the time comes again—12 years hence, according to the Constitution—the rural community will be built up at the expense of the urban community, the reverse of the situation to-day.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I would ask permission to intervene at this stage. I had intended to speak on the debate in any case but there are reasons why it has to be now. It may indeed be no harm to say something now in order to remove some misapprehensions which appear to be affecting the minds of Deputies who have already spoken. When we were preparing this Bill we were very conscious of the fact that no matter what proposals we brought here somebody would suggest that they were designed to serve our Party interest. I am sure that Deputy O'Donnell, when he was preparing a Bill as Minister for Local Government, did not expect to escape that allegation, if he found himself in the position of bringing a similar Bill to the Dáil. I think one can talk a great deal of nonsense about that because the movement of public opinion amongst the Irish people takes place fairly uniformly over the whole country. No matter how you divide them into constituencies you cannot thwart that movement by any such arrangement. That has been the experience in the past and I am sure it will be the experience in the future.

Deputy O'Higgins, however, suggested that the provisions of this Bill were not in accord with the requirements of the Constitution. The Constitution requires that the constituencies should be equal in size, equal in the number of residents in relation to the number of Deputies, so far as practicable. That obligation on the Government to have regard to practicability cannot be overlooked. I think the Dáil must be considered to be the judge of practicability in a matter of that kind.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  While the [404] Taoiseach is on this point, would he also deal with the point that the Government have held two seats in reserve less than the maximum provided and will he deal with that in relation to practicability?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I certainly shall do that. However, I wish to bring in this question of practicability because there is an obligation on the Government to justify the differences which appear in the Bill in the relationship between the number of residents and the number of Deputies in the constituencies proposed.

Most of us would regard it as impracticable to cross a county boundary in preparing Dáil constituencies. We did at one time try to solve the problem of the shifts of population in the realignment of constituencies by putting a bit of one county into a constituency mainly consisting of the whole of another. Clare, at one time, had a bit of Galway in it; there was a bit of Roscommon in with Longford, and it proved quite unsatisfactory. The people in the part of the county transferred to the neighbouring constituency could never effectively influence the election in that constituency. They could not return a Deputy from their own area and they ultimately began to lose interest in elections because of that situation.

We decided therefore in the case of the previous Act to avoid any such arrangement, to stick to county boundaries, so far as it was practicable, and to fix the number of Deputies for a county in accordance with the county population to the nearest possible extent. We have adhered to that practice in this Bill. We also took a decision to make the fewest changes possible because there are very good reasons why changes should be minimised. The public become accustomed to particular political divisions, to belonging to a particular constituency; they become familiar with the Deputies of that constituency and any undue change should be avoided because it would only create public inconvenience.

The reference to practicability also requires us to have regard to geographical features. Deputy Desmond spoke [405] about Donegal. The Government gave a good deal of thought to the problem in Donegal. I do not know if Deputy Desmond is aware that Donegal has this peculiarity; the east and west of it are divided by a range of mountains with only four passes by which people can travel from one to the other. Therefore you cannot alter the arrangement in Donegal by taking a bit of East Donegal and putting it into West Donegal; it is just not feasible. The only alternative would be to make the whole of the county a six-member constituency, which under P.R. would be somewhat of an abortion. We ultimately came to the conclusion that there was no need and no justification for altering Donegal at all and once we took that decision there seemed to be required a similar decision regarding Kerry and Galway.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  Where is the range of mountains in Galway?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I say that the key decision which affected the ultimate decision to leave Kerry and Galway unchanged was taken in regard to Donegal.

There is also the important practical consideration of the travelling facilities available to Deputies. There is obviously no comparison between Dublin constituencies and the constituencies of West Galway, West Donegal, or West Cork. That is surely a practical consideration we are entitled to take into account when determining the constituencies in accordance with that Article of the Constitution. I agree that if none of these practical considerations existed our obligation would be to make each constituency as near as possible exactly the same size in respect of population as the others but, taking these practical considerations into account, it seems to me that the variations from that rule that are proposed here are quite justifiable. This idea that, within the limits fixed by the Constitution, we should tend to give greater representation to rural than urban areas has appeared in all the Electoral Acts we have passed here. This is not a new idea. It is not the first time the idea has been presented to the Dáil. It was in fact done, as far as I [406] know, on previous occasions and there is surely as much justification for doing it now as there was previously.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Was there not only one change since this Constitution came in?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I do not think, in that respect, that this Constitution is much different from the one preceding it. Deputy O'Higgins said that we decided to make these proposals regarding the city of Dublin because we were influenced by the knowledge that we had suffered some electoral defeats in the Dublin area recently. I do not know if the people of Dublin want any more Deputies than they have. Certainly the decision we took was that the number of Deputies for the city of Dublin should be the same as previously, and the obligation placed upon the Minister for Local Government was to prepare proposals for an arrangement of the constituencies which would keep that over-all limit and also an arrangement which would keep the existing constituencies in so far as it was possible to do so.

One could certainly play around with Dublin a great deal if it were thought desirable but again it seems to me there is very good reason for keeping the existing framework of constituencies in Dublin. I have given that reason in regard to country constituencies; it applies equally to Dublin. We have in the past divided Dublin into six constituencies; three north of the Liffey and three south of the Liffey, with an eastern, central and western constituency on each side. We decided that, rather than create completely new constituencies, which would be in the Dublin context exceedingly confusing to the public, we should stick to the existing constituency framework and try to bring them up in population to the level which was required to justify their existing membership. That was not too difficult because, of course, the city boundaries had been extended and the change was, by and large, effected by bringing the existing constituencies out to the new city boundaries.

There is a consideration there which we are entitled to take into account although I would not argue it as necessarily [407] the type of practical consideration that the framers of the Constitution had in mind. We are working now on a census taken in 1956. Every Dublin man knows that in that year the population of the central city areas was at its lowest. There had been large movements of people from the central city areas out to the suburbs and the areas they had vacated were, in the main, vacant sites being prepared for flat construction, but on which the flats had not yet been built. That situation in 1956 was quite obvious to everyone who travelled through the central city areas. That process is now being reversed. The flats are being built in the central city and the population is coming up again in these areas. I think we should have some regard to that fact when we are preparing a scheme of constituencies that is to operate for 12 years to come. I do not say that that is a constitutional requirement, but I think it is one that would strike the commonsense of all Deputies faced with the task of preparing these constituencies.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  On that argument Dublin should get more seats.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  That is the point I want to discuss. There are two possible additional seats. Having regard to the overall constitutional limitation, it would be possible to increase the membership of the Dáil by two additional seats. As I understand it, Deputy O'Higgins urged that those two seats should be in Dublin.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  That is on the basis of leaving the Bill as it stands for rural constituencies.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I do not know if the Deputy is speaking as a Dublin Deputy or expressing the view of his Party——

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Both.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I would not represent this Bill as something which is completely unchangeable. A great deal of thought went into it and, in practice, it would be very difficult to [408] change one of the proposals without its necessitating consequential changes in other instances but if there is a strong view in the main Opposition Party—a Party view, not the view of individual Deputies only—that we should put these two possible additional Deputies, which the Constitution would permit, into Dublin, that could be considered. However, I would ask them to consider that Deputy Desmond thinks one should go to Cork. Deputy Corish will argue that one should go to Wexford and I am quite sure that before this debate concludes, other suggestions will have been made for disposing of these seats.

Should we increase the membership of the Dáil at all? There is a public sentiment in favour of reducing membership of the Dáil. It comes generally from people who have given very little thought to the matter but the indications are that the small reduction in the Dáil membership for which this Bill provides was generally welcomed by the people—at any rate in so far as the newspapers, national and local, reflect public opinion. I have on occasion argued against that point of view, not merely because I think the proper representation of the people requires maintaining the existing relationship between the number of Deputies and the number of electors, but for other reasons also.

Those who have argued in favour of reducing the membership of the Dáil have rarely given thought to the problem confronting a Taoiseach forming a Government. In most cases, he will have only half the total membership to draw from and he has to find some 14 or 15 Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. That would be an exceptionally high proportion of the membership of this House, having regard to similar circumstances existing in other Parliaments—to get from half the total body here people who would not merely have the ability to hold Ministerial office but who would, at the same time, be willing to accept the obligations of doing so and to abandon other occupations in which they were engaged for the period in which they would be in Government. [409] So that when one comes to consider the size of the Dáil, one has to consider not merely the question of representation of the people in Parliament but also the problems of Parliament itself from which those who are to carry Ministerial responsibilities must be chosen. Therefore I would resist this sort of uninformed campaign which one sees conducted in newspapers in favour of a drastic reduction in the membership of the Dáil. I think it would be bad for the country——

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  ——and make it exceedingly difficult to carry on Government effectively. At the same time I do not feel that we should, when we are preparing electoral Bills, go to the maximum number permitted by the Constitution. Two seats below the maximum is not a very great reduction——

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  But it does unbalance the voting.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  If we aim at maintaining the six constituencies now in Dublin and merely at bringing up their populations so as to justify their existing representation it will not. I think it would be undesirable to carry out a complete overhaul of Dublin constituencies. Even those Deputies, like myself, who represent Dublin constituencies sometimes find it difficult to know where a constituency begins and where it ends.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  The Taoiseach has the existing city wards which have been there since the year of dot.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  That does not help very much. Moreover, there is a good case to be made on the grounds of practicability for lowering the representation to some extent in favour of rural areas. Nobody can pretend that there is any similarity between the task of a city Deputy in keeping in touch with his constituency and the task of a Deputy representing a western constituency in the same respect. I feel quite certain, and I know the city of Dublin as well as most, that [410] there is no demand from the people in the city for a larger number of Deputies in the Dáil. Furthermore, in so far as the prosperity of this country is concerned—its progress depends very largely on the success of our efforts to rehabilitate rural areas, to get increased prosperity from increased rural production—it is good for the whole country that there should be a distinctly rural bias among the members of Dáil Éireann.

As far as we are concerned we worked on the principle that we should change as few of the existing constituencies as possible, that we should, in any case, work within the limits of the existing county boundaries and that subject to that, we should keep the membership in the rural areas to the highest point at which it would be reasonable to do so having regard to the population, without increasing the membership in Dáil Éireann from the city of Dublin. If we are to dispose of these two seats, I would find it difficult to argue against the contention that, having regard to the requirements of the Constitution, they should have to go into Dublin, but I again emphasise that putting two additional seats into Dublin, having regard to the general framework of this Bill, will not be easy. It would completely rule out the possibility of considering the Cork situation, the Wexford situation, or any other situation that Deputies want to have considered.

Deputy Desmond spoke for a long time about Cork. Cork is the other area in respect of which one major change was decided upon. In the circumstances I have described, it is clear that Cork, as a whole, must lose one Deputy, if the principles upon which the Bill is framed are to apply there. The problem really arose on the western side of the constituency. There was, as Deputy Desmond remembers, an original division on that side between a five-seat Cork South constituency and a three-seat Cork North constituency, and that original Cork South constituency was completely impractical. It stretched from Cork Harbour to Castletownbere and it was impossible for any Deputy to pretend to be in touch with [411] all parts of it, or to represent the people of all parts of it.

On the last occasion, we decided to change the Cork situation by creating four three-seat constituencies in the county of Cork, and I think Deputy Desmond would prefer that situation to remain; but it cannot remain, if we are to have one seat less. There were three alternatives for dealing with that problem. One was to reproduce something like the old Cork South constituency, giving it five members and leaving Cork North with three members. The second was to leave West Cork with three members and create a five-member constituency in Mid-Cork, and a third was to create two four-member constituencies. I am sure that the third alternative would not recommend itself to anybody.

I think there is a good reason for a Mid-Cork constituency. Deputy Desmond need not worry about the name. If he can give it a better name, then all the better. He can call it “the best part of Cork,” if he likes but, by and large, it is an area more or less uniform in its economic interests and similar in size to the other five-member rural constituencies like Laois-Offaly, Longford-Westmeath, and Sligo-Leitrim, and of the three alternatives, as we saw them, it seemed to us the best and that is why we are recommending it to the House.

With regard to the comparison which the Deputy is making between Cork and other Western constituencies, I think it is fair to point out that a major factor in that is density of population. There is the important difference that in County Cork the density of population is 13.9 persons per 100 acres. In Donegal, it is 10.2; in Kerry, 10.5; and in Galway, 10.6; so that it is quite obvious that the point Deputy Donnellan made is sound, that the area over which a Deputy has to fulfil his functions as public representative is relatively much larger in these western constituencies than it is in Cork, and that would justify some lower number of residents per Deputy in these counties than in others.

One other point I want to deal with is that Deputy M.J. O'Higgins talked [412] about the need to have the constitutional requirement fulfilled, to have this Bill enacted by the end of November. I think that is a very theoretical point. We all know that this Bill will not come into operation until the next general election, and that will not be for another two and a half years. From a practical point of view, there is no urgency about getting it enacted, and it seems to me that the Government have fulfilled their obligations in bringing the Bill to the Dáil with time to enable it to be enacted within the constitutional period.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  Nobody can say a word to us if it is not passed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The Constitution does not provide for what happens, if it is not passed by 26th November. It can be passed by 26th November, but I do not regard the constitutional requirement to have it passed by that date as strong enough to justify the Government steam-rolling it through this House, or imposing a closure, as Deputy M.J. O'Higgins suggested.

Here is the Bill. Deputies want time to consider it and, as far as I am concerned, we shall give the time, but I want it understood that the scope for consideration is very limited. There are certain questions which can be settled by the House—one is whether to leave Dublin as it is with the same number of Deputies as it has, or increase the number of Deputies from Dublin. The maximum increase is two and if we put them into Dublin, there can be no claim heard for Cork, Wexford or anywhere else. If we decide to put two more Deputies into Dublin, how are we to do it and at the same time produce an intelligent, workable system of constituencies for Dublin? If we do not put them into Dublin, should we leave the situation in the Bill as it is, making the number of Deputies in the next Dáil two below the maximum we could have, or do we consider increasing the representation proposed for some other areas?

If you accept the principle of making as few changes as possible, then most of these constituencies settle themselves. It is clear that working on the limits of the county boundaries, [413] Cavan, Roscommon, Longford-Westmeath and Wexford must lose one seat and there seems to be no alternative to that, unless we are prepared to put part of another county into all of these constituencies. We could have an alternative arrangement for Cork but, as I have said, there are only three alternatives.

Deputy Desmond one time seemed to suggest the possibility of three four-member constituencies covering the whole of Cork. I can calculate for myself that would be very much to the advantage of my Party but I think it would be a bad system for County Cork. I think we should maintain the principle of keeping as many constituencies as possible with an odd number of Deputies to be elected in them and that means, in County Cork, that we have only two alternatives: either a five-member central constituency with a three-member western constituency, or a five-member western constituency and a three-member central constituency. From the point of view of the character of the country covered and of transport facilities, the proposal in the Bill seems to be the better of these two. However, if we are pressed to reopen the question of Dublin, with the purpose of putting in two additional members there, then Cork cannot but lose a member, but, if the proposal to put two extra members into Dublin is not pressed, then perhaps they can be put into other areas.

The margin for manoeuvring is very limited and we were very conscious of that when we were framing the Bill. We deliberately framed it as it is. We did not aim to produce a reduction of two members from the maximum number permissible. We took the decision that the representation of Dublin should remain unchanged and that the population of each constituency should be built up to justify that representation. However, if the feeling in this House is that we should go up to the maximum permitted by the Constitution, we are prepared to consider that, but it will cause a great deal of difficulty and it will be impossible to get agreement as to where these two additional members should be. I can see a great deal of argument [414] and possibly risk from the point of view of constitutional challenge to putting these two additional members anywhere else but in Dublin, but there are good reasons for not doing that.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  The Taoiseach mentioned that there was some constitutional requirement which obliged the Government to have regard to geographical boundaries.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  No, I did not say that. I said the constitutional requirement is to have all constituencies equal in size so far as is practicable. I think we are required by that provision to have regard to practicality, and I would strongly argue that it was impracticable to arrange a constituency consisting of one county and a bit of another county. Incidentally, I think Deputy Desmond is under a misapprehension. The maps which we promised have been in the Library for the past fortnight or so. They are available there for examination by Deputies.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  Is it not correct that it was stated that these maps would be made available here in the Dáil Chamber?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  They are in the Dáil Library.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  Since when?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  For the past fortnight or so.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  I was not aware of that.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  It is interesting to hear the Taoiseach's definition of the requirements of the Constitution today. He admits that the mere introduction of this Bill would comply with the Constitution and that it might not be necessary to have it passed by this day month, November 26th, to be exact. I distinctly remember speaking here on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, the Bill for the abolition of Proportional Representation and I remember saying, when the Taoiseach—then Tánaiste—gave us as a reason for urgency in passing that Bill the fact that the constituencies would have to be revised before the 26th November, that I thought the Constitution would [415] be complied with if the Bill were merely introduced and allowed to stand over. I am glad to see that the Taoiseach has now come round to that point of view in regard to the constitutional requirements although I think we shall both admit that we are not constitutional legal experts.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I think it would be desirable to have the Bill passed by the 26th November. I must not be misrepresented in that respect, but I would not think there is any constitutional obligation on the Government to force it through the Oireachtas if the Oireachtas wants to take more time than that to consider it.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  I agree with the Taoiseach so far as that is concerned. I also agree with him that no matter what Minister is in charge of a Bill such as this he will be accused of political gerrymandering. There is no doubt of that. I know, and I can assure the House that when I was charged with introducing this Bill I decided to leave it to the officials of the Department to prepare for me a revision of the constituencies based entirely on the requirements of the Constitution.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The Deputy could not have made a bigger mess of it.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  I think the Taoiseach will agree that we can stand over at all times the actions of the officials of the Department of Local Government. I have never found them dishonest in any way.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The officials are not under discussion.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  No, but they are being dragged into it by Deputy Corry and I think it is but right that I, as one who was at one time responsible for their actions, should protect or endeavour to protect them.

It is most difficult to arrange such a revision of constituencies without a charge of political corruption or gerrymandering, but we must look at the overall picture. It has been the policy of the present Government and its Fianna Fáil predecessors to centralise [416] industry, to bring the people from rural Ireland and give them employment in Dublin. That is, and has been the policy of Fianna Fáil since 1932. The Taoiseach has pointed out that political opinion is something that is very slow to change in this country and he says that is one of the reasons why rural constituencies should not be changed.

There is an old saying that where Dublin leads today the country follows tomorrow and there is no doubt that Dublin strongly supported Fianna Fáil down to 1948. When you look at the representation given by the then Fianna Fáil Government under the 1947 Act, you find that in the City of Dublin the representation was 21,700, 14,100, 20,200, 18,300, 17,300—in other words, on an average each 16,000 or 17,000 of the population in Dublin City was in a position to elect a Deputy. What is the proposal today? Where I have read those figures out, it is 22,700, 22,600, 22,500, 23,900 and 22,300 of the population——

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The Deputy is not suggesting that these are the figures representing the position as it was in 1947?

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  Yes, the first ones were.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  These figures represent the constituencies as they are now, not as they were in 1947.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  In the City of Dublin approximately each 17,000 or 18,000 of the population elected a Deputy under the 1947 Act.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  But not in 1947.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  Under the 1947 Act. But under the 1959 Bill it will require 22,000 of the population of Dublin to elect a Deputy.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Look at the figures for County Dublin.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  I am referring to the City of Dublin. It will take an average of 22,000 of the Dublin population to elect a Deputy. We must remember that the population of Dublin has increased by the denudation of rural Ireland of its population and they are brought in here.

[417]Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  More civil servants.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  I agree. The policy of the Government since 1932 has been to increase the number of civil servants. These people are being brought in here but now, having enticed them into the city, we are going to disfranchise them.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Do you object?

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  I am objecting. I think the people of the City of Dublin are entitled to the same representation as the people of rural Ireland. As a County Donegal man, I welcome the fact that we are to have seven Deputies in County Donegal under this Bill, but I think under the Constitution there is no doubt that we are entitled to only six. There is no doubt that the population of Donegal were convinced that we were to lose a Deputy which would mean that East Donegal would have three and West Donegal would have three by a portion of the population of East Donegal going to West Donegal under constitutional requirements.

We saw the Independent Deputy for East Donegal voting in favour of proportional representation, as Deputy Desmond pointed out. We now see the consideration for his having so supported the Government. The consideration is that we are going to leave him a safe seat in East Donegal, which he or his successor may retain for the next 12 years. That is the consideration given to him for his support of the Government.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Oh, no.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Patrick O'Donnell  Zoom on Patrick O'Donnell  I am glad to see Deputy Corry hold up his hands. Deputy Desmond who is impartial, who is a Corkman like Deputy Corry, pointed out this before I even mentioned it. Although as a Donegal man, I am glad we are still to have seven Deputies, as a citizen I object because I do not think it fair that we should disfranchise the citizens of Dublin and at the same time give this representation to my own county.

Prior to the present Bill, under the 1947 Act, each 19,000 of the population in East Donegal elected a Deputy. Under the present Bill, 16,700 will be [418] in a position to elect a Deputy. Those are the figures for East Donegal— 19,700 elected a Deputy. Under the present Bill, 17,900 will elect a Deputy. Why should we increase the representation for Donegal on a population basis and at the same time, decrease the representation in the city of Dublin per capita of the population? Why should we do that? There must be some reason for it. There is one reason and one reason only. We gave them more representation in respect of fewer of the population under the 1947 Act when Dublin was supporting Fianna Fáil, but, as Deputy O'Higgins pointed out, Dublin has switched and turned against Fianna Fáil.

They defeated them on the Referendum on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. The majority of the citizens of Dublin voted against them in the Presidential election and in a recent by-election, the majority of the votes were recorded against the Government. Is this not the punishment inflicted on the people of Dublin for daring to oppose the Government? I think it is.

As the Taoiseach and other speakers have pointed out, this is purely a Bill which should be considered on Committee Stage. It is not a Bill into which we can go very much on Second Reading. I should like to see the same representation given to the city of Dublin as is given to the other parts of rural Ireland. I think that Cork is entitled to another Deputy but should we in rural Ireland, in Donegal or some other parts of the West suffer? I think that the people who have been persuaded, coaxed and enticed to leave rural Ireland and come to the city should not be disfranchised under this Bill.

Mr. Russell: Information on George E. Russell  Zoom on George E. Russell  I do not wish to say very much on this Bill at this stage. I should like to go on record as continuing the views I expressed in the debates on the P.R. issue. I personally favour a reduction in the number of Dáil Deputies. I know the Taoiseach argues very strongly in favour of maintaining a number near to the maximum allowed by the Constitution. I [419] do not think we should overlook the fact that prior to 1947, for several years, this State was represented by 138 Deputies and the population at that time was at least 70,000 or 80,000 greater than it is today. As in 1943, 1944 and 1945 up to the time of the alteration of the constituencies in 1947, we could find a Government and an Opposition with 138 Deputies, it should be possible to find a Government and Opposition today, particularly as the Deputies represent a substantially smaller population.

I do not know what the minimum number of Deputies is to provide the necessary Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. But I suggest that at least eight to ten Deputies could have been taken from the present number without violating the Constitution, while, at the same time, giving reasonable representation particularly to the rural areas. Personally, I favour the leniency which the Minister has shown in allowing a smaller number of rural people to elect a Deputy. I think he could not but take into consideration geographical difficulties and considerations but at the same time, I find it hard to accept the Taoiseach's argument that a mountain range in Donegal decided the attitude of the Government to turn a blind eye to the over-representation in Galway and Kerry. I think that a reduction within the counties of Galway, Donegal and Kerry could have been achieved without reducing the representation in these three counties below a fair and equitable level.

The Minister for some reason unknown to me, has decided to transfer five electoral areas in my constituency of East Limerick into West Limerick. In his introductory speech, he gave the reason as being a transfer of the surplus population of East Limerick into West Limerick. I do not know what the Minister means by the surplus population of East Limerick, because, according to the representation at the last census in 1956, each Deputy in East Limerick was elected on an average by 20,819 electors. That does not show a very grave population surplus problem in our constituency.

In West Limerick, as it stands, it [420] takes 18,202 electors to elect a Deputy. As it stands, West Limerick is above a number of other constituencies which the Minister has decided not to touch at all. It seems to me that on the general spirit of leniency with which he has decided to treat the western part of the State, he might very well have left the constituencies of East and West Limerick alone. It does not seem to be a sound argument to transfer 2,500 people from East to West Limerick—people who have got used to voting in their constituency over the past number of years and who will possibly resent their transfer to another constituency.

East Limerick is two-fifths a rural constituency and three-fifths a city constituency. This alteration will ensure that part of County Limerick in East Limerick, which was formerly represented by Deputy Tadhg Crowley for a number of years, will never again elect a Deputy to Dáil Éireann and that part of the constituency will have to rely on the Deputies of East Cork to look after their needs. If anybody not familiar with the area takes the trouble of looking at the new constituency of East Limerick, he will see a strange animal stretching a distance of 40 miles. I do not think I can be accused of exaggeration when I say I do not think that is fair or equitable to the electors of East Limerick.

I could not help smiling at some of the arguments put forward by some of the Deputies from the rural constituencies. It seems to me that they were making a very good case for single seat constituencies. Possibly this is not the time or place to consider that now. It is obvious to me that the arguments put forward, most of them my own, at the time of the famous P.R. debates are largely being reinforced now by the arguments of certain rural Deputies who have pointed out the difficulty of having to travel long distances to give their constituents proper representation.

I do not know what the Minister has in mind or whether he is open to arguments in favour of altering the Bill. I think, in equity, that this Dáil could be reduced by at least three members by reducing the constituency representation [421] in Donegal, Galway and Kerry. Even that would leave them with adequate representation. I appreciate that they are large counties. The population is sparse and they have to travel long distances. We all know that a Deputy is not elected on a constituency basis. He is elected largely on a local basis. The people who vote for him are those who live nearest to his locality. He might get a handful of votes at the other end of his constituency but, by and large, the bulk of his votes come from the parishes close to where he lives.

I should also like to suggest to the Minister that, having regard to the unnecessary interference with the borderline between East and West Limerick, he might very well leave this matter alone. I have a great deal of sympathy with the views put forward by the Cork Deputies. It does seem to me unfair and unjust to leave the counties in the West that I have mentioned alone and at the same time, take a seat off Cork when the entire county of Cork has 12 Deputies at present for an average of 18,713 electors. That is substantially higher than some of the constituencies which it is not proposed to alter in any way.

The Taoiseach is quite right in saying that, irrespective of what Bill is brought in, there will be some objections. I do not put mine forward in any carping spirit but in a spirit of reasonableness and with a sense of justice to the areas that are being altered, while some of the constituencies being left unaltered could afford to lose some of their representatives.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The views I wish to express on this Bill have been very largely strengthened by the statement made here tonight by the Taoiseach. There is an old saying: three removes are as bad as a fire. I say that this is my fourth remove and I will survive it. I merely suggest that it would have been far better if, where divisions were to be made in a county, the matter were sent to the local authority, despite the hatred we know the Department of Local Government has of local authorities.

The Taoiseach here tonight dealt [422] with the inadvisability of dividing counties and the anxiety to work within the limits of the existing county boundaries. To all intents and purposes, Cork county is three separate counties. There is North Cork. It has a separate county surveyor for roads; it is a separate area for public assistance charges, a separate area for housing and sanitary purposes. For every purpose it is a separate county. There is a separate county in West Cork; there is a separate county in South Cork. They are three separate areas and three separate counties to all intents and purposes and there should not have been the slightest difficulty, if there were to be changes, in making a reasonable division. If they wanted to take a seat from Cork, they could have had four seats in North Cork, four seats in South Cork and three seats in West Cork. That would be reasonable but, of course, the devilment that has always existed in the Department of Local Government could not have that; it has had to do something queer and this is the result.

I would ask the Minister to reconsider the casting of Cork county in that way. There are local representatives there. A Deputy is generally consulted on matters besides Dáil matters. I suppose three-fourths of our time is occupied on local authority matters. Now, the man from the northern portion of the county will be coming down to Deputy Desmond or Deputy MacCarthy about a labourer's cottage, a road or something else that Deputy MacCarthy and Deputy Desmond cannot look at because it belongs to the Northern Committee and the Northern Committee deals with it. I have had to put up with that condition of affairs since the last change in the constituency, since the bit that North Cork did not want has been thrown across to me. I had to endeavour to smooth out matters but the difficulty still exists there. If there were to be three parts made of the county, these three natural divisions are there and there was nothing to prevent that reasonable solution to the problem being adopted.

I do not mind what Deputy O'Donnell says. I know there is fellow [423] feeling amongst Deputies from the same county and I could quite understand the Minister for Local Government, another Donegal man, leaving a seat in Donegal for fear we would lose Deputy O'Donnell from the House. I am sure none of us would like to lose him. I can quite understand that. But, when he talks about political manoeuvres, I say that I firmly believe that there was political manoeuvring in the new Mid-Cork constituency, whether it was because of fellow feeling that the Minister for Local Government has for a fellow benedict or not. A couple of years ago a Deputy from North Cork moved 60 miles away and took a wife in Bandon and lives there and suddenly the constituencies of North Cork and Bandon are welded together. It was good enough for the Deputy to marry in South Cork but this is another kind of wedding.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Deputies' marriages may not be discussed on this Bill.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  In view of the allegation that has been made here in regard to a Donegal Deputy and a recent allegation in this House that because of the manner in which he voted, certain things were done in Donegal, I think I have an equal right to deal with the manner in which Deputy O'Sullivan's constituency in North Cork has now been married to where he has married, Bandon.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  And that has been done by the Minister for Deputy O'Sullivan?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Yes. I am prepared to guarantee that unless Deputy O'Sullivan does something extraordinarily out of the way, that constituency as it is will always give him a surplus between the wife's pull and his own pull.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy might get back to the Bill.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The Deputy is dealing with the allegations that were made here about your own county, Donegal, a while ago and the reasons why a certain seat was kept there.

[424]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is indulging in personal matters.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  And advocating divorce, by implication.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The very same thing happened in Mid-Cork, with this extraordinary result. I sympathise with Deputy Desmond. Deputy Desmond got a chance to have a lovely, handy little constituency around his own house where he would always be elected. For two months, he shouted all over the country that he did not want it. Now he comes in and tries to get the areas put together for him. I would not have much sympathy for him. A five-seat constituency does not work. It is happy enough——

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  If you have three of them.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  ——in a city, where a twopenny bus fare will take you from one end to the other.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  A twopenny bus fare? The Deputy is out of touch.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Anyway, the bus will take you. If you go to the Old Head of Kinsale and make out for the Kerry bounds, you are still in your constituency. It is the most ridiculous constituency ever. When I first examined it —from the point of view of electing a farmers' representative in it—it was happy enough; but when I thought of the fellow in South Cork looking for a price for the barley and the fellow in North Cork looking for cheap barley for the pigs, I began wondering whether it was as happy as I thought.

I had to fight four elections in a five-seat constituency, two back in 1927; another in 1932; and another in 1933. The five-seat constituency is too big and unwieldy to work. You would nearly want a helicopter to move around it.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  Is that necessary?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  It is necessary if a man is to do the job he is elected to do. I know many of you do not look at it in that light, but I do. You have to travel around a big rural constituency [425] like that. You get a letter saying that 500 acres of land are to be divided at the other end of the constituency and you are invited out to meet the local people that night. You start for home about one o'clock in the morning——

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  After dividing it.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I never attempted a job I did not succeed in doing. You open your post and there is a letter saying you are wanted in Charleville the following morning and you have to go. Constant travelling from pillar to post has to be done.

I have seen three Deputies elected in North Cork within five miles of one another and no Deputy representing the other side of the constituency at all. That was purely a political manoeuvre. You had three lads in one parish representing an area 60 miles away and everyone who wanted to see them had to travel the 60 miles to find them. I had to face these difficulties from 1927 to 1937. Then there was a change. I found I was in South Cork in a three-seat constituency. I found it a lot handier.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  Was that the time the Deputy had another candidate canvassing outside the area?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  If I had the Deputy down there I would give him something to do.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  If the Deputy has finished his remarks on the Bill he might sit down.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I was explaining the difference between a five-seat and a three-seat constituency. It is only two months since we had posters around the country: “The local Deputy can give you better service.” How can you expect your local Deputy at the Old Head of Kinsale to give better service on the bounds of Kerry and Limerick? It all points to the smaller constituency. A five-seat constituency is impracticable. I suggest that when the Minister is bringing in the next Payment of Members Bill, he double the pay for the boys in that constituency. They need it. I would urge him also, in view of what the Taoiseach said to-night about working within the limits of the existing county [426] boundaries, to take into consideration the three separate health areas at present in Cork—South Cork, North Cork and West Cork— and to work on those boundaries. I should like to thank him; he did not interfere with me too much this time, though he took a couple of thousand votes off poor Bat Donegan and passed them across to my colleagues, John Moher and Dick Barry. I have no quarrel with that. I am a generous kind of fellow. I have no objection to that, but I have an objection to what is being done so far as the over-all picture is concerned. Something wrong is being done in Cork. I am prepared to make every possible allowance for a man in love, as I know the Minister was when this Bill was being prepared, but I suggest people should not be made to suffer because of that for the next ten or 12 years.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin  Zoom on Denis Larkin  In considering this Bill, we should, I think, divorce ourselves completely from any consideration of the convenience, or otherwise, of the members of this House. The Bill proposes to change constituency boundaries and to restore a correct balance in representation to this Dáil. In the period which has elapsed since the last Electoral Bill was passed, a very serious imbalance has occurred because of the continued emigration from certain counties along the western seaboard and the continuing influx of people to Dublin and its environs. As a result of that, substantial changes have taken place in population.

We are all familiar with the impossible situation which exists in County Dublin at the moment; in 1956 the population was 135,000 and that population was represented by three Deputies. It is to-day still represented by three Deputies. The population per seat, on that basis, is 45,000. The situation is almost as bad in Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown. Even in the urban areas proper, representation is to some extent out of balance. Having regard to that, I do not think we can accept as tenable a proposition that the citizens of Dublin City and County have a lesser right to representation than the citizens of Donegal, Galway, Kerry and so forth.

[427]Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  Look at the good Deputies they have in County Dublin.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  The Deputy is big enough anyway.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin  Zoom on Denis Larkin  The present proposals will have the effect of perpetuating the existing imbalance in representation as between Dublin and Cork and Galway, Sligo and Kerry. Galway men, Sligo men and Kerry men who happen to be domiciled and working in Dublin, rearing their families in and around Dublin, will find themselves with an unfair representation as compared with the Galway men living in Galway, the Kerry men living in Kerry and the Donegal men living in Donegal.

When this Bill is enacted, the basis of representation set out in it will continue for a period of at least 12 years. While I do not think the Minister can be expected at this stage to deal with the Bill on the basis of what the situation may be five years hence, nevertheless he should be aware of the fact that there has been and is this constant shift in population. He should ensure that the areas to which the population has shifted should not have representation weighted against them. To accept the proposition that an area like Galway should have a basis of representation of 9,000 electors to a seat as against 12,000, 13,000 and 14,000 in the Dublin constituencies is to support the argument that, if the population of Galway continues to contract as it has contracted in the last twelve years, then there may be at no very distant date as few as 5,000 electors per seat in Galway as compared with Dublin.

Changes have had to be made in the boundaries in the city of Dublin. These changes may or may not affect the sitting members in these constituencies. That is a chance every Deputy has to take. It is the over-all result which appears to me to be one undeserving of support, that is, the over-all result in the constituencies in Dublin where in each and every case, the Deputy, irrespective of Party, will find himself representing a substantially greater number of electors and a far greater number of people than his counterpart [428] in the other areas to which I have referred.

One can appreciate, and we all, I am sure, do appreciate that there is no possible amendment of this Bill which would provide that each Deputy in Dáil Éireann will represent exactly the same number. Possibly for a Dublin Deputy to venture into the sacred soil of Cork is a rather dangerous experiment but there appears to have been a peculiar development there. One constituency has been suppressed in Cork and yet the figures show that the population in Cork, as a whole, would be much more entitled to keep the number of Deputies they have, than the population in at least three other areas. Consequently, I feel that possibly this situation could bear some further examination. In so far as the all-over picture in Dublin is concerned —that is the city and county of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire and Rathdown— the proposals in the Bill indicate that less consideration is being given to those who live in these constituencies than to citizens who live in other parts of the country.

I shall not discuss the question of the convenience or hardship to the Deputies because the convenience or hardship to Deputies can vary substantially from one constituency to another. In a constituency that may be a bit widespread but where there is fairly substantial employment, the calls on the time of Deputies might be much less than in another constituency which is not so widespread but where serious under-employment and hardship exist. Similarly, in one area where the population may be divided over, say, sections such as farmers generally and those employed on the land, and another area where the population covers a very wide section such as unskilled labourers, semi-skilled labourers, craft-workers, professional workers, shopkeepers and industrialists, the Deputies' problems might be multiplied by the type of, or the sections of, the population in those areas.

I do not wish to delay the House but I just want to mention that I feel, when the Government were faced with this problem of rearranging the constituencies, [429] an effort should have been made at least to do so without keeping their eyes on where the Fianna Fáil Party was strong. It appears to me that the areas which have received the kind attention of the Minister for Local Government are those areas which have, in recent times at least, strongly supported the Party to which the Minister belongs. Perhaps they are entitled to that reward—I do not know—but if they are entitled to it, the people who expressed their views in other districts and in other ways on proposals brought before them by the Government should not be punished.

The Taoiseach indicated that there were two seats available or that there was a possibility of two seats being available. I am not suggesting that the two seats might be allocated to any particular area, but I think the people in Dublin, the people in Cork, the people in Wexford, or the people in other areas, are quite as much entitled to consideration as the people in the three counties which appear to have been selected for special consideration in this Bill, and that consideration might be given to them by the Minister before the discussion on this Bill concludes.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  I should like to point out in all fairness—I do not want to jump my turn—that a speaker offered on your right, Sir, and I do not think you caught his eye.

Mr. Ryan:  I bow to Deputy Corish.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  It is only right for me to say at first that in about 80 per cent or 85 per cent of this Bill, the Minister did reasonably well. We can well approve the express desire and intention which the Taoiseach said he and the Government had in preparing this Bill. One finds oneself in difficulties in discussing a Bill of this kind because enemies begin to spring up like mushrooms when one begins to talk about one's constituency and compare it with or relate it to another. I must say I was not too impressed by the attitude of the Taoiseach here today when he tried to justify the distribution of seats in the city areas, in the industrial centres, and in what he called the rural centres. When I heard him speak I asked myself the question, in respect [430] of any representation in this Assembly: what is important? Are places important or are people important, or must people take second place to particular areas or the size of areas in the whole country?

I do not care who hears me say that I believe the Government are pursuing a policy in this Bill, which seems to be embodied in much of the legislation that comes from the Fianna Fáil Government, of paying special attention to certain portions of this country. In this case again, they paid special attention to a portion of the country, namely, the western seaboard. I know there is justification for that sort of attention in respect of many things. I know the Government have expressed it in their policy down through the years. I know they want to give a certain amount of assistance to the western counties because they are poor, in some cases, and because they want to make an effort to retain the Irish language. I do not think that policy should be pursued when it comes to representation of the people of the Twenty-Six Counties in this Parliament.

The Taoiseach said the Government, in framing this Bill, tried to provide special representation for the rural areas as distinct from the populated areas, as in Dublin city. That policy seems to have been pursued and that special attention seems to have been paid to certain parts of the country, but the policy was not broadly applied and certainly it was not applied in Cork county. It was not applied—I shall talk about it later, vis-á-vis other counties—in Wexford or in many of the midland counties.

We are now told that extra representation over and above other places must be given to counties such as Donegal, Kerry and Mayo because Deputies have big areas to represent and to cover. I would point out this interesting fact about provinces before I start to talk about particular constituencies. As far as I can find out, in 1956, Leinster had 1,338,942 of a population and under this Bill it will have 60 Deputies. Every 22,315 persons will be represented by a Deputy. In Munster, with 45 Deputies and a population of 877,238, there will be a [431] Deputy for every 19,494 persons. In Connacht, with a population of 446,221, there will be 24 Deputies, each representing 18,590 persons. The three counties of Ulster, with a population of 235,863, will have 13 Deputies, each representing 18,143.

What is the difference between the people in these various provinces? I appreciate that it is not possible to have an exact number of persons in each constituency represented by one Deputy, but I suggest there is a big difference between the 18,000 odd in Ulster who are represented by a Deputy and the 22,000—an increase of 4,000—who have just one Deputy, as they have in Leinster. I do not want to make a special case for County Wexford because I appreciate that there are four or five other constituencies in respect of which a similar case could be made. However, because it is my constituency, I want to put certain points before the Minister and, on the Committee Stage, to make certain proposals to see what the feeling of the House is on them. The natural area known as County Wexford is still to be a constituency. In 1956, the population was 87,259. Up to, the present, it has had five seats, namely, one Deputy for every 17,452 persons. Now it will have four seats, each Deputy representing 21,815 persons. I appreciate that, with five seats and each Deputy representing 17,452 persons—say 17,500 persons— it was somewhat below the average but certainly not below many of the constituencies which are left unchanged, the constituencies in Kerry, Galway, the two constituencies in Donegal and, I think, the constituency of Monaghan.

For some reason or other, on the occasion of the second-last change in the constituencies in, I think, 1938, the then Minister for Local Government suggested, and the House approved of, the addition of an area in County Carlow roughly akin to the county electoral area of Borris. I suggest the Minister should now consider adding the county electoral area of Borris, which has a population of 6,681, to the county of Wexford, making a total of 93,940 persons, [432] giving it the extra seat and thus having 18,785 persons represented by one Deputy. I might add that the taking off of those 6,681 persons from the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency would not reduce the total population of Carlow-Kilkenny to a size that would mean taking a seat from the five they have at present. It would leave them with one Deputy per 18,431 persons.

I know it is not very popular with the Galway Deputies for me to talk about County Galway, but I must do so in relation to myself and in relation to my constituency, as others must do in relation to their respective constituencies. Galway West at present has a population of 55,103, three seats and each Deputy representing 18,368 persons; Galway South has a population of 49,726, three seats and each Deputy representing 16,575 persons; North Galway has a population of 50,724, three seats and each Deputy representing 16,980 persons.

Wexford has lost a seat because, with five seats, each Deputy represented only 17,452 persons. But South Galway is left the same and one Deputy still represents, under the new proposals, 16,575 persons. North Galway still has its three Deputies and each Deputy represents 16,908 people, but the constituency of Wexford having 1,000 more electors per Deputy was deemed to be too low, and it is proposed under this Bill that it should lose a seat. The Minister might argue that these are three constituencies and each constituency must be taken on its own, but I think we must have regard to the whole county. There is nothing sacrosanct about the divisions between West Galway, North Galway and South Galway. I do not say that I intend to propose an amendment on these lines.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  There is something sacrosanct. Fianna Fáil have six out of the nine seats.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  I am talking about boundaries, not political affiliations. However, the total population of the County of Galway is 155,553 and for that they have nine seats; in that one Deputy represented 17,283 and under [433] the present proposals one Deputy still represents 17,283. But because Wexford had 17,453 it has to lost a seat. I cannot understand that. As I say, it is not for me to propose an amendment but I cannot understand why the Minister did not introduce some proposals to provide for different boundaries in Galway and a different number of seats. I am not talking about Galway in particular. There are two or three other places that could be treated similarly. If Galway were reduced to eight seats it would mean that each Deputy would represent 19,444. The proposal in respect of Wexford is that each Deputy should represent something like 22,000 people.

I do not know why the Minister did not have a further look at his own county. I shall not throw the constituency of West Donegal into his face as strongly as it has been thrown but any honest Deputy needs to think about the position in Donegal and the proposal for the whole County of Donegal under this Bill. Donegal-West has a population of 50,101. It has three seats and each Deputy represents 16,700. Under the proposals in this Bill each Deputy will still represent 16,700 but, because a Deputy in Wexford represented only 17,450, the Government thought it necessary to take a seat from the county.

Donegal-East has a population of 71,958. It has four seats. Under this Bill it will still have four seats and each Deputy will represent 17,990. We must, however, consider the over-all position in Donegal as well. We discover the total population is 122,059. They have seven Deputies and each Deputy represents 17,437, still fewer than the number represented by a Deputy in County Wexford; nevertheless Wexford loses a seat and Donegal retains the seven they had heretofore.

Another example is that of Kerry. North Kerry has a population of 71,928. It has four seats and each Deputy represents 17,982. South Kerry has a population of 50,144. It has three seats and each Deputy represents 16,715. The total population of Kerry is 122,072. It has seven seats at present. It is proposed to leave the seven seats, each Deputy being a representative for 17,439, still fewer than Wexford. I will [434] admit it is not much less than the present representation in Wexford but if there is a justification for a reduction in the number of seats in Wexford there surely is a justification for a reduction in the number of seats in the three constituencies of Kerry, Galway and Donegal.

The Taoiseach said here today he was not wedded to the idea of not availing of the maximum number of seats we could have in the whole country, and for that I applaud him. I was pleased to hear his reply to the criticism of people who write the leading articles in many of our newspapers, that we have too many Deputies. I fully subscribe to most of the sentiments of the Taoiseach in that respect. I am often inclined to think we have not enough Deputies and I realise it is not sufficient for me to say that without giving reasons for it. There is, fortunately or unfortunately, a tradition built up around Deputies. It would be fair to say— and I refer to this not knowing the details of the work of Parliamentary representatives in other countries—that the main type of work in which public representatives engage in other countries is Parliamentary work, that is the framing and consideration of legislation and the general Parliamentary work we know. In this country it is different. Where the tradition came from I cannot say—I do not know whether Deputies are to a large extent responsible for it—but whoever named the members of Parliament here as “Teachtaí Dála” were very apt in their description. It means, as far as I am aware, “messengers to the Dáil”. I do not think I need make any further comment about that.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  “Messengers to the Departments” you mean.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  I do not know whether it is “Messenger of the Dáil” or “to the Dáil” and for that reason I do not think we are overburdened or overcrowded as far as Deputies are concerned.

The Taoiseach this afternoon spoke of the vastness of Galway, the vastness of Kerry and the inaccessibility of parts of Donegal. However, he will find the constituencies of the eastern [435] seaboard, the midlands and the south can be just as vast and in many cases as inaccessible as some of the constituencies over in the West. In fact I would prefer—and I do not say this as a criticism of the Wexford County Council—to travel some of the excellent roads over in the West than to travel parts of my own constituency, bearing in mind how favoured the constituencies in the West have been in regard to the various types of road grants they get to provide employment over there.

I mention that only incidentally but I would favour the idea the Taoiseach had in his mind this afternoon of making provision in this Bill for the full complement of Deputies and would tell him not to be afraid of public criticism because the type of criticism that members of Dáil Éireann get is mainly malicious and very ill-informed. Unfortunately it comes from a section from which one would not expect it to come, the Press. I do not blame the Press as a whole when I make a remark like that. I blame many of the cranks who are prone to writing these leading articles. However, this is a Bill on which one cannot make a detailed Second Reading speech and therefore it would be better to reserve my remarks in favour of my own constituency for a later stage.

Mr. Ryan:  Not to mince words, this Bill is outrageous. It is an insult and flies in the face of every Irish democratic conception. To that insult is added the insult to our intelligence and injury to the basic principles of the arithmetic that we learned in school, an injury inflicted on us by a man who I knew was audacious but who today showed a greater capacity for audacity than anyone who preceded him in office. I am referring to the speech of the Taoiseach which was as brazen as it was inaccurate.

I hope in my few remarks, by doing some simple sums in arithmetic, to draw his attention and the attention of the Irish people to the flagrant violation in this Bill of one of the basic principles of democracy. The Taoiseach was wrong when he said that this House is the final judge of what [436] is practicable. It is not. The Supreme Court can determine whether or not this Bill is a practicable distribution of the influence of the Irish people and, even though the Taoiseach marshals his majority in this House to support this Bill, there is another place in which it can be tested and destroyed. Therefore I would ask him to have the Bill thoroughly revised so as to avoid the necessity of having to refer it to the Supreme Court.

The simple rule of democracy which I thought we all had accepted is that each and every person within the State should have equality of political power. This Dáil has rightly voted in the past against the property vote; this Dáil, rightly I believe, has voted against the educational vote. All democratic Parliaments in the world, realising that the essence of democracy was that every person should have equal political power, have seen to it that equality was given to their citizens.

The late Professor Canon O'Keeffe, Professor of Politics in University College, Dublin, used to say with a smile that the peculiar thing about democracy was that the village idiot and the University Professor of Politics had an equal say in the selection of a Government. We either accept that principle with all the drawbacks it has, or else we reject it. It is rejected in this measure because in this Bill the vote of the urban dweller in Dublin or in Cork is deliberately made equivalent to three-quarters of the vote cast by one of his country cousins. If four men come from Donegal to Dublin, from Galway to Dublin, or from Kerry to Dublin, one of them will lose his political strength. So far as their voting strength is concerned one of them might as well have stayed at home. That is something which could easily have been avoided as Deputy Corish, Deputy Larkin and many other Deputies have pointed out in the course of this debate.

Taking the counties Donegal, Galway, Kerry and Waterford, and amalgamating the nine constituencies in those counties so as to rule out any small pocket, we find that the average number of people per Deputy is to be 17,468 as against—amalgamating the Dublin constituencies—23,465 per [437] Deputy in Dublin. It needs 6,000 more votes to be elected in Dublin. That means that the Dublin people must have an extra 6,000 votes to elect a T.D. and the ultimate effect of that will be to reduce the political power of the people of Dublin. The reasons this is being done are obvious.

Deputy O'Donnell has already pointed out that it is being done to destroy the political power of the people of Dublin which is a very effective power, a power that is thrown from one side of the House to another as election follows election. But if we are to have lively politics and the mature political development which is so necessary, we must see to it that Irishmen collected in the cities are given political power equal to that of their cousins living in the country.

It is pertinent to remark that the Republican Dáil from which this House has descended was, in the majority, representative of urban middle class Ireland. At the time that the revolution took place here, there was only a 10 per cent. representation of agriculture in this House. Surely that indicated that the revolutionary thought came from the city and towns, from the urban centres. If this country is to progress, and if we are to have the tremendous economic and cultural revolutions so badly needed, we can only get them by giving adequate political power to that section of the Irish people which is inclined to think ahead, and not do as we are doing in this Bill, reducing the political power of the people who can bring about revolutions, reducing it as against those who, by reason of their occupations and the nature of their background, tend to be more conservative.

I trust that nobody will be so unfair as to quote my remarks as being those of a “Jackeen” against a “culchie”. They are not intended as such. They are intended as a humble endeavour to secure equal representation for Irish men and women, whether they live in Ballyfermot, Ballydehob, Dingle or Donnybrook. That is the situation and it is deceit for anyone to say otherwise.

As Deputy Corish has mentioned, County Galway is a clear example in which a change is quite practicable. If [438] you were to amalgamate the existing constituencies of Galway South and Galway North, which between them hold six seats, and reduce their representation by one, the ratio of population per T.D. would be 20,090, and that would be a lower density of population per T.D. than exists in 20 other constituencies. It would be lower than in over half of the other constituencies. If you were to amalgamate the constituencies of East and West Donegal, which together are represented by seven T.D.s, and to reduce the representation to six, the ratio of population per T.D. would be 20,243, a lower figure than for 17 other constituencies throughout the country.

If the new constituency of Dublin South (West)—which will be the largest constituency in the country as far as population is concerned, containing 128,900 persons—were to be given an additional T.D., without changing its boundary in any way, making six T.D.s instead of the proposed five, the population per T.D. would be 21,483, higher than in the amalgamation of the Galway constituencies and higher than in the amalgamation of the Donegal constituencies. With 21,483 of a population per T.D., it would have a higher number of people per T.D. than 24 other constituencies throughout the country. These statistics do not make an interesting speech. You have to write them down and compare one set of figures with another, but these three examples I have quoted must show this House that practicability was not the basis on which the Government decided to arrange the constituencies in the manner in which it has been done.

With respect, I would say that there is another fundamental principle of democracy to which attention is not being paid in this Bill. It is the principle that Edmund Burke and the great American Republic crystallised so long ago—that there should not be taxation without representation and likewise, I say that taxation and representation should be equal. As it is at the moment, the urban centres are paying taxation to subsidise the country. By and large, from the national point of view, the majority [439] of urban dwellers are quite content to do so, but surely if they are not to be given greater representation, they should be given equivalent representation and not, as proposed in this Bill, less representation?

Those urban centres, in Dublin in particular, are subsidising transport in rural areas, subsidising electricity in rural areas, subsidising agriculture, subsidising the improvement of farmers' dwellings, subsidising rural road works, subsidising land drainage, subsidising the establishment of new industries down the country, and subsidising the Gaeltacht. Yet, despite the fact that the urban dweller is contributing so much more than he is getting out of the Exchequer, he is given lower representation. All I am asking is that justice be given to all sections of the Irish people, particularly when it is so clearly practicable to do so.

The Taoiseach said that an effort was made in this Bill not to upset the arrangement in Dublin, and he tried to lead the country to believe that no such change was being made. May I direct the attention of the House to the fact that the Taoiseach represents the constituency of Dublin South (Central), a five-seat constituency of which four representatives are members of the Fianna Fáil Party? The trend of population in Dublin South (Central) at present means that it should be represented by four and not five T.D.s. It was quite practicable for the Government to reduce Dublin South (Central) to four members but instead, wanting to maintain that Fianna Fáil stronghold, if he can, the Taoiseach has spread out the borders of the natural Dublin South (Central) constituency higgledy-piggledy, twisting and turning, as the Unionists arranged the borders of Derry City, down around corners, across greens and through streets in Ringsend on one side, while on the other side, the natural area of Kilmainham Ward has likewise been butchered to make Dublin South (Central) a five-seat constituency.

That constituency could have been left as a four-seat constituency with a [440] direct loss of one seat to Fianna Fáil, and that one seat could have been given to the existing constituency of Dublin County, which would have meant a direct increase of one seat for Fine Gael. It would be quite possible to do that with less change than that proposed so dishonestly in this Bill. If we are asked to apply the test of what is practicable and what is not, then this simple solution is something the Government could have done, if they had really wished to do so.

These are my respectful views and I am asking the House to approve of them, not from any partisan point of view, but in order to preserve what this Dáil has done so much to achieve, equality of political strength for every Irishman, irrespective of his property, his education, his background or his geographical location. People in Dublin and other urban centres are being punished because of their geographical location. If they were to move down the country, they would increase their political power by one-quarter. If it were a case that could not have been avoided, I think the urban voter would accept it, but, without any difficulty whatever, it would have been possible to give fair representation to the urban voter.

Apart from redistributing constituencies, this is also a Bill to amend the law relating to election of members to this House and I am disappointed that two possible amendments have not been included in it. In the first instance, I refer to the fact that members of the Garda Síochána, under the Electoral Act of 1923, are prohibited from exercising the franchise in Dáil elections. The Government and their predecessors stated that they agreed with the principle that members of the Garda Síochána should be given a vote. This Bill provides a good opportunity to do this and I respectfully suggest to the Minister that he might consider between now and the Committee Stage an amendment to repeal those sections of the 1923 Act which prohibit members of the Garda Síochána from voting.

If the Garda were given a vote, I presume it would have to be a postal [441] vote and I think this opportunity should be seized to increase the class of persons who can vote by post. This privilege is at present confined to members of the Defence Forces. I suggest that two classes of persons be given postal votes: (1) people confined to hospital and in respect of whom medical certificates can be produced; and (2) persons the nature of whose occupation takes them from home, such as commercial travellers. Suitable arrangements could be made for the registration of these people well in advance of an election.

If this House is to remain truly representative of the Irish people, the most important thing is that everybody who can vote be given the opportunity of voting and that every person who can vote goes to the polling booth in the knowledge that his vote will have the same effect in the election of the Government as that of any other Irish man or woman exercising the franchise.

Mr. Carty: Information on Michael Carty  Zoom on Michael Carty  It is news to me to hear that Dublin is keeping rural Ireland together, that they are keeping the Gaeltacht, the farmers and everything else going and that but for Dublin, we would have no rural Ireland. I wish Deputy Ryan were down the country and could hear the farmers in my constituency and in every other constituency giving their views on that subject. It might surprise him because those people maintain there would be no Ireland without the farmers and certainly there would be no Dublin. If the solution advocated by Deputy Ryan were to be adopted and if we could get another Pale and cut off Dublin from the rest of Ireland, we would see how long Dublin would last.

It came as news to me also to hear that, in the first Republican Dáil, the representation was 90 per cent. urban and that rural Ireland was represented to the extent of only 10 per cent. I cannot question the accuracy of those figures now but I shall certainly investigate, and if the representation was in that proportion, it will take some explaining.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  They were all in jail at that time.

[442]Mr. Carty: Information on Michael Carty  Zoom on Michael Carty  The last speaker also mentioned the great American Republic where there is no taxation without representation, and where there is equality of voting. He might explain to the House why the State of New York, one of the biggest, and the State of Pennsylvania which is also very big, and the State of California each have only two Senators in the United States Congress. That is the same representation as the small State of Rhode Island or the small State of Maine. There is no regard to the population basis.

The Minister is to be complimented on this Bill, especially as he made so few changes. The more changes made in this kind of Bill, the more the motives of the Minister become suspect. In all, I think only four constituencies have been reduced; there is a rearrangement in the county of Cork and I think a revision of boundaries in the case of the Dublin constituencies. I think the Minister has reduced the number of constituencies by only one. While it is right and proper to reduce the five-seat constituency and the four-seat constituency, if the movement of population so demands, it is entirely wrong to interfere with three-seat constituencies, unless there is a very big movement of population.

County Galway has come in for a fair amount of criticism from some speakers and so have counties Donegal, Kerry and Mayo. From what speakers on the opposite side have said, it might be gathered that these are all strongholds of Fianna Fáil. There are three constituencies in County Galway and one of them is marginal. From 1948 to 1951, North Galway had two Fianna Fáil Deputies and one Opposition—if I may refer to it that way. From 1951 to 1954, it had two Opposition and one Fianna Fáil. From 1954 to 1957, it had two Opposition and one Fianna Fáil and from 1957 to date, it has two Fianna Fáil and one Opposition. The overall position in County Galway has alternately been six to three in favour of Fianna Fáil or five to four so that County Galway cannot be regarded, except for a very short period, as a Fianna Fáil stronghold.

[443] Taking Mayo, we find that the North Mayo constituency has always been marginal and in South Mayo, Fianna Fáil has only broken even. In Roscommon, another Connacht county, it has been three to one against Fianna Fáil from 1948 and it is still so to-day.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  Is that why it is being cut?

Mr. Carty: Information on Michael Carty  Zoom on Michael Carty  I know nothing about that. I shall leave that to the Deputy. From 1948 to 1959, Sligo-Leitrim has been a marginal constituency. The speakers in favour of the city of Dublin want us to reduce our representation from the 24 we are given in this Bill to 20 and to increase the Dublin representation—I mean County Dublin and the constituencies that form Dublin city—from 30 to 33 or 34. In other words, it is suggested that Connacht should have only 20 seats for its five counties and that the county and city of Dublin should have 33 or 34.

The Minister was perfectly right in biassing this Bill—if I may use the word—in favour of rural constituencies. If there is political immaturity in this country—and we may have had examples of it here this evening—it it certainly in the city of Dublin to judge by some of the speakers I heard. It is quite wrong that great national or economic issues or changes of Government should be decided by a handful of Dublin Deputies. Stability has always existed in the rural areas, more or less. There has been more balance of thought and ideas and more maturity in rural Ireland.

I agree with the Taoiseach and Deputy Corish and others who criticised the people who are always recommending as a panacea the reduction of the number of T.D.s. All the crackpots of the country are writing to the newspapers, whenever a crisis arises, to suggest that everything would be solved if the number of Deputies were knocked down to 60 or even to 20. That theory reached fulfilment in some continental countries where they got rid of Deputies [444] altogether and ended representation of the people, but what was the result? We all know.

We who represent rural constituencies know the long distances we have to travel; we know how far our constituents have to travel to visit us when they want to see us; we know the hardships they have to endure. We know the difficulties we experience when we go to meet our constituents, to address meetings, or to organise for different political Parties, whereas, in the city of Dublin, a constituent may visit his Deputy at the cost of a three-penny bus ticket and for a few pence the Deputy may visit any part of his constituency because the constituencies are so compact. These are the very people who want more and more T.D.s. There are not enough of them, they tell us. I think there are too many Deputies in Dublin. If I had anything to do with it, I would not even give them the 30. I would reduce them to 25 and they would have enough even at that figure.

Mr. Sherwin: Information on Frank Sherwin  Zoom on Frank Sherwin  Broadly speaking, I have no great complaints to make about this Bill. It is necessary and as few changes as possible was the policy of the Minister in respect of it. It was necessary to make changes in certain areas, particularly in urban areas. I represent the smallest area in the Twenty-Six Counties—Dublin North (Central). There was a big shift in population to the outskirts. I represent in Dublin North (Central) approximately 14,000 people on the register at present, whereas a ridiculous position arose in County Dublin where each of three members represented 40,000 people. That was because of the buildup in Ballyfermot. Changes were necessary. It seems that the Minister was correct in making as few changes as possible.

It is not right to change around too much because certain representatives have got to know their constituents and constituencies and the people have got to know their representatives. Therefore, the aim should be to change them as little as possible. The Minister should have helped the Deputies by distributing to them some kind of map [445] of the country with an outline of the areas as they are and what he hopes they will be. That would give us some idea of what we are talking about.

I do not know anything about the country areas; I do not know what they are like. I should like to know whether an area was compact or not. We are in the dark in regard to large sections of the country. We know only our own areas. I should like to see a map showing the position of the different areas. We would then know whether the proposals in relation to them were good or bad.

I know it is difficult for any Government to redistribute seats like this. There are always complaints. Some people will profit, while others will lose by it. As far as my own area is concerned, I have 24,000 voters to worry about. I do not mind that anyway because I have always represented them. I have made it my business in this city to represent not only the people in my area but anyone who came to me. I have been actively working for the people I represent since I became a member of a local body. Now I will probably head the poll—thanks to the Minister, unless some of my enemies in North Central change around now. I do not believe they will be able to chance their arm. As far as I am concerned, those 24,000 voters worry me, but I will do well in the area because I have always worked there. I have nothing to complain about. Admittedly, I have more work to do, but I have a better chance of getting in and, perhaps, heading the poll. Work does not worry me because I work day and night and I cannot do any more.

Mr. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  Why did the Deputy vote against P.R.?

Mr. Sherwin: Information on Frank Sherwin  Zoom on Frank Sherwin  The main reason for the Government's proposals to abolish P.R. was that it would reduce the constituencies to such a size that one person could very easily represent the area and——

Mr. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  Getting 24,000 more is the Deputy's trouble.

Mr. Sherwin: Information on Frank Sherwin  Zoom on Frank Sherwin  The arguments for the [446] abolition of P.R., like the arguments of many political groups, are not to be relied on. I said before, and I say it again, that the object was to get an advantage whereby a minority could possibly beat a majority and it was expected that certain gentlemen would remain in power like the crowd in Northern Ireland. I believe that was the main purpose of the Bill. Almost all the arguments on the P.R. issue were false. I do not go in for statistics. I go in for what I know. I am more concerned with what human beings do than with what figures say.

As far as representatives are concerned, you get workers and you get slackers. It is my experience that two-thirds of the members of this House avoid trouble. They do not look for it. The majority of the representatives here very cleverly keep far away from it. If the Minister had a one-seat area throughout the whole country, each person would then be responsible for a compact area. He will be obliged to represent them. The people will expect him to be always available. Under this Bill, the slacker can take cover behind the active representative. If a representative is required to attend a meeting, the active representative will attend and the slacker will not, but the people will not mind so long as there is a representative present. If there is only one seat, the slacker will have to be there because, if he is not, there will be complaints in the Press. He will be obliged to work. This Bill gives the slacker the same opportunity to hide behind the representative who is active.

Mr. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  It is a great pity the Deputy did not make that speech at the time of the proposal to abolish P.R.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Palmer): Information on Patrick W. Palmer  Zoom on Patrick W. Palmer  P.R. is not under discussion. Will the Deputy speak to the Bill?

Mr. Sherwin: Information on Frank Sherwin  Zoom on Frank Sherwin  All I am saying is in relation to the Bill. The Bill is certainly related to the proposed abolition of P.R. They are intermixed.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  The Deputy should not talk about P.R. now.

Mr. Sherwin: Information on Frank Sherwin  Zoom on Frank Sherwin  In connection with the [447] Minister's remark that he was erring in favour of the rural areas largely because of geography, I suggest that the Minister should have erred in favour of the urban areas. A representative of an urban area is in immediate contact. He is so near his constituents that he is unable to slack as easily as he might otherwise do. A Dublin representative is expected to be available to his constituents at all times and, consequently, has a great deal of work to do. There is always a knock at his door. If, in addition, he is a member of a local body, he is worked to death. Nine complaints out of ten are of a local government nature. That being the case, the Minister should have erred in favour of the urban area rather than the rural area.

In a huge area, only a small number of people can contact their representative. People will not spend 10/- or 15/- to travel to see their representative in his house. A Deputy who does not like work has the excuse that he does not meet his constituents and that, therefore, they cannot say he ignores them. In Dublin, there is no excuse. Constituents are at the door of the Deputy all day and find out where he works or meet him on the street. A rural representative who wants to slack can do so easily. A city representative who is active is worked to death. The Minister should have erred in favour of the urban area.

I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that the tendency is for the city population to increase. The reverse is the case in rural areas. In the next 12 years, before the constituencies are again redrawn, there will probably be another 100,000 people in the city and so many fewer in the country. Instead of giving the city less representation, the Minister should give it more.

Mr. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  What does a city man know about milking cows?

Mr. Sherwin: Information on Frank Sherwin  Zoom on Frank Sherwin  What has that got to do with it? Deputy Ryan suggested that the Guards should have the right to vote. If he mentioned that and got away with it, I may mention a similar [448] matter. As this Bill is going through the House, I do not see why the Minister cannot amend the 1923 Act and allow persons of 18 years of age to vote. Men and women marry at that age. In times of war, men of that age are conscripted and asked to die for their country. If they commit an offence, they are considered of sound mind and responsible for their actions and convicted criminals of that age are liable to capital punishment. At that age, they are not allowed to vote. It beats me. Two-thirds of the old I.R.A. of the Tan War period were under 21. They fought for the freedom of the country and most of them had not got a vote. The vast majority of the Defence Forces and the L.D.F. during the Emergency were under 21.

I do not understand why they are denied the vote. A man can be hanged at 18 years of age but he cannot vote. There may be a reason for that. Perhaps the vested interests do not want these people to vote because they might endanger their power. The alleged democracy that one hears so much about is so organised that the democrats have very little say because the powers that be and the money interests still dominate. That must have a lot to do with the Government's attitude in respect of persons of 18 years of age not having a vote. I was in jail at 16 years of age. I had no vote. I was a man at 18 years of age, or think I was, but I had no vote.

The question of travellers has been raised. What about all our people who are domiciled here and who are living only temporarily in England and keeping their wives and children here? They should have a vote. They are helping the economy here, remitting part of their wages to their wives and families. They are not a drain on our social benefits.

I am not finding any great fault with the Bill. At the same time, the Minister did not demonstrate that there was much sincerity in his proposal to abolish P.R. and the arguments on which it was based when he still creates five-seat constituencies. I have a speech here by the Taoiseach. I [449] shall not bother to read it. A large section of it deals with the importance of having a small area and a single member representing the area and the contact that could be made between the representative and the people. That is all “boloney.” What else can it be when, now that they have the opportunity to do something about it, they do not do it?

Mr. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  Did the Deputy not vote against it?

Mr. Sherwin: Information on Frank Sherwin  Zoom on Frank Sherwin  On certain grounds, I said that I would meet the Taoiseach half-way, but, as it was an attempt to keep small people out of the House, I voted against it.

Mr. Collins: Information on James J. Collins  Zoom on James J. Collins  The Deputy cannot have it every way.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  I have not a great deal to say on this Bill, but I should like to remind Deputy Sherwin that the Minister for Local Government is precluded by the provisions of the Constitution from fixing a constituency with fewer than three seats and that is why Deputy Sherwin's remarks relative to the single seat constituencies are wholly irrelevant in this debate.

I understand that some criticism has been levelled at the Minister because the number of Deputies on the western seaboard has not been substantially reduced and because the number of Deputies in Dublin has not been substantially increased. I propose to talk here only about what I know, that is, the conditions along the western seaboard from Donegal to Kerry, including Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare. You have very scattered constituencies where, as Deputy Carty pointed out, people have to travel 90 miles to see their representative or the representative has to travel 90 or 100 miles to see them. The plain fact is that it is very difficult to give adequate service to people in a very scattered rural area. I regret that the Minister was forced by the figures to reduce another scattered constituency, Roscommon, from four to three seats. But the facts are there.

I would remind Deputy Sherwin that a great deal of information has been afforded to Deputies in replies [450] to question in this House and also in the provision of a map, the very thing Deputy Sherwin was complaining he had not got. In point of fact, the map was made available earlier this month and the figures were published in response to questions tabled here in the first week after we returned.

Even though the Minister was faced with the necessity of reducing the strength of the House by some few seats, his desire was to make as few changes as possible—a very good decision in principle. From an examination of the figures it is obvious that he decided to make reductions where the figures indicated he should do so. You will find on examination of these figures that the lowest five-seaters and the lowest four-seaters were reduced. These minor reductions alone were made.

A very good case was made by Deputy Carty in connection with the decision in principle not to give more seats to Dublin. I do not know very much about conditions here. The problems here are vastly different from ours; different types of complaints and questions have to be investigated. At the same time, it is plain—and I think it is admitted by impartial Dublin Deputies—that it is very much easier to get a close acquaintance with constituents in a confined urban area than it is in a scattered and sometimes mountainous rural constituency such as the one I represent and the constituencies of Galway, Kerry, and Donegal.

Galway has come in for a certain amount of criticism, too. Surely, Galway, of all constituencies, is the one that falls into natural divisions? There is the west, which is confined principally to Connemara. It is a huge physical area, yet one with which an energetic representative doing his duty would be expected to keep in reasonably close contact. There is then the northern part of the county which, in the main, is a small-holding part; and then the southern part, which is the sheep-rearing and richer part of the county. Generally speaking, the way of life of the people in North Galway is rather more like that of Mayo than it is of South Galway. Having lived for a time in both parts of the county, [451] I know that the conditions and viewpoint are very much different between the one and the other.

Taking things all round, the Minister has done a splendid job. It was with regret that he found himself obliged by the terms of the Constitution to make reductions in certain rural areas, which are, perhaps, as equally widespread as those I have mentioned. I should like to see the seat restored to Roscommon but, unfortunately, I do not think that is possible. The number of four-seat constituencies has in general been reduced. I do not know that that is a good thing. I think that four seats is a suitable number for the type of scattered rural area to which I have been referring. Consideration should always be given to the pattern of the country rather than to the absolute demands of the statistics of population. Distribution of population is probably as important in this matter as actual population itself. I congratulate the Minister and hope that the House will give full support to this Bill.

Mr. Manley: Information on Tadhg Manley  Zoom on Tadhg Manley  This Bill sets the pattern for the representation in this House for the next twelve years. For that reason it should be examined most carefully and discussed in all its aspects. The Bill spotlights one regrettable fact, but certainly one that is undeniable—that there has been a major drop in our population since a similar Bill was presented in this House in 1947. We all regret that. There are many outside who believe that the reduction now envisaged is an act of reform by this House itself. It should be made clear that the reduction has been necessitated by the drop in population and that is the sole motive behind the reduction envisaged in this Bill.

The Bill will be accepted with certain misgivings because, as the Taoiseach has admitted, there is a growing volume of opinion that this House should be reduced in numbers. I held that view for many years, and my convictions have been consolidated by my saddening experience here. A better Parliament and a great saving would eventuate if this House were reduced in membership. Besides that, we all [452] realise that Government expenditure has gone beyond control. It will continue to soar until such time as some Government will have the courage to start at the top and make the necessary economies in order to stabilise the opinion of the country behind the actions of the Government.

This House should be an inspiration for our people. It should be the one institution they would always admire and respect. That is not so today. Many people think of this place in a spirit of cynicism and mistrust. They believe that the numbers here are excessive and that it is wasteful. I hold that view from my own experience here. After 37 years of growth, development and experience, we should be in a position now to bring about those necessary reforms so that this country will endure and stand up to various repercussions from year to year. It is somewhat paradoxical to find that we have today a greater membership of this House than we had in the early days of the State when the institutions of the State had to be built up and when we had no experience of civil service and no experience of Departmental working. How different is the position today when we have a Civil Service so competent and so efficient, with experts in every Department, always there to advise and guide even Ministers themselves and point out to them the complexities in the administration of their respective Departments?

As well as that, we have a regionalised system of local government. We have local authorities in every county, in every municipality and in every borough. I take off my hat to the members of our local authorities. They certainly give an extraordinarily generous measure of their time to the public weal. Let us bear in mind that they are responsible for the disbursement of well over £40,000,000 every year. Their administration is both complementary and supplementary to that of Government. Indeed, their existence is one argument for a reduction in the numbers in this House.

The views I express are my own views. My opinions are not dictated opinions. They spring from my own [453] convictions. I make that explanation in fairness to my colleagues. We all know—it is something we all regret— that four elected representatives after the last election have never taken their seats here. Does any Deputy contend that the efficiency of this House has been impaired by the absence of these four elected representatives? Of course not. Neither would its efficiency be impaired by the absence of 24, or even 34. If any Deputy took the trouble to calculate the average hourly attendance here, he would be convinced of my argument as to the necessity for a reduction in membership.

The Taoiseach said this evening that there is a well-informed volume of opinion that this House should be reduced in membership. That is the opinion held by many of the younger, well-educated people of the country today; they believe this House has never realised earlier expectations. That is the opinion held by those who suffered much and long for this country. This House is not producing the results expected from a national Parliament in this glorious little island of ours, with its proud heritage, its traditions and its history.

I wonder is the Constitution being trifled with in this Bill? Have the words in it their ordinary connotation? There is a good deal of controversy about Dublin and the large number of voters for whom a Deputy will have to cater. No Deputy will be asked to represent even 24,000 electors under this Bill. I do not think the Government have any grouse in that respect and I hope the Minister will resist strongly any effort to increase representation for Dublin.

Dublin is the one place that benefits because of the existence of the national Parliament. It is in Dublin Parliament sits. Deputies have to come to Dublin, and to stay in Dublin for the greater part of the week. Ministers have to live in Dublin for the greater part of the week. All national functions take place in Dublin. In various ways, Dublin benefits through the existence of this House. How different is the situation in the rural areas? That is one reason I would resist strongly any [454] effort to increase representation in the case of Dublin, or even of Cork. I have sympathy with the rural areas. There is no comparison between the work of a rural Deputy and the work of a Dublin Deputy, for instance. Rural Deputies have to travel long distances to meet their constituents. The Dublin Deputy has his constituents around him. He can meet them at a specific centre, to which he can travel by bus, or any other means of conveyance he likes, and meet his constituents in the minimum of time.

Again, the Dublin Deputy has the advantage of the comfort of his own home as against the rural Deputy who is compelled to leave home frequently and be away, on occasion, for quite lengthy periods. These are all cogent reasons in calculating representation in the remote rural areas. I would not advocate any increase in representation for any area, despite my sympathy for the rural areas. It is time some effort were made to come down to realities and achieve some reduction in representation here.

The Minister for Finance announced a new National Loan this afternoon. It is my earnest hope and sincere wish that that Loan will be fully subscribed within the minimum of time. We are all anxious about the economic position. We are all anxious to see new projects started. If we reduced the strength of this House tomorrow morning fresh hope would be created and our people would, because of that hope, gladly put their hands in their pockets and subscribe to the Loan.

Again, let me repeat that these are my own views. They have always been my views and I would be a coward were I to fail to make them known to this national Assembly.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  I had hoped that on this measure we would have had a sensible and reasoned discussion as to what the functions of a Deputy are. We have reached the end of an era. The end of the Civil War bitterness is in sight, with the departure from the political scene of the former leader of Fianna Fáil, who is now our President, and the foreshadowed departure of Deputy General Mulcahy. The time [455] is ripe to sit back and assess the whole position with regard to this Parliament and the functions of members both inside and outside the House. I must confess I have been gravely disappointed that the opportunity offered has so far not been availed of, particularly when one remembers that this legislation, if passed, will operate for the next 12 years.

I have no doubt that what I say here tonight will go in one ear and out the other as far as the Government is concerned. I believe no serious consideration has been given by the Minister, or his Government, to the proper functions of this Parliament. First of all, let me pose a question: how many Deputies do we need to represent the people of the Twenty-Six Counties, to represent them efficiently and carry out the functions for which they are elected, namely, those of legislators? Is it necessary that we should have 140 to 147 Deputies in order that Parliament can function efficiently? If it is necessary, then, on that basis, we must accept that if, by some miracle, our Six Counties were restored to us tomorrow morning, we would have to add a minimum of another 60 to 65 representatives, bringing this House to a total of over 200 Deputies.

On our population basis, is there any sensible person here who would be prepared to suggest that it is essential to have over 200 Deputies to represent even a united Ireland in order to carry out the functions of Parliament efficiently? Let us remember that, practically since 1922, the reins of Government have been in the hands of the same individuals. It is not necessary to have 100 or 147 Deputies in order to select the so-called best brains to run the country. The same brains have been running this country since 1922; if it was not Fine Gael or an inter-Party Government, it was Fianna Fáil.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  That does not seem to arise.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  Of course it does. I am discussing the question of the number of seats which are essential in [456] this House and I suggest that the number of seats had no bearing whatever in the past 30 years on the efficiency or capabilities of those selected as Cabinet Ministers. Consequently, it is not necessary under any circumstances, especially nowadays as Deputy Manley has so sensibly suggested, to have 140 members in this House in order to get ten or 12 people with sufficient capabilities to administer the Government. I have not the slightest doubt that what we have had for 35 years has failed miserably and perhaps one of the reasons was that they had too much support from people who were elected on the basis of being a disciplined force ready at all times to carry out the duties——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is not relating his remarks to the Bill.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  I wish to relate them in this way: What are the functions of a Deputy in this House and outside it? Are they to act as legislators? Are they elected as messengers to this House or are they selected and elected as messengers to the various Departments of State so that most of their precious time in the city is spent in answering correspondence, visiting Departments, trying to get favours for various constituents, setting up a competition in the various constituencies amongst themselves and between the different Parties as to who can get something for his particular supporters.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  May I point out to the Deputy that the Bill relates to the fixing of the number of members in the Dáil and the revision of the constituencies. The question of the duties of Deputies is not open for discussion.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  I have listened to reasons from the Taoiseach and the Minister as to why it was necessary to overload certain constituencies and why representation should be, in the words of the Minister for Local Government with reference to particular constituencies, on the basis that it was essential in some areas that the people be in a position to enlist the aid [457] of a Deputy to get the benefits which they deserve. Am I not entitled to answer that and to point out that there are people in this House and outside it who have a mistaken idea of the duties of Deputies? We have county councillors and city fathers all over this State and, I suggest with great respect, quite a number of people in this House also who have that mistaken idea.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Again, the question of the duties of Deputies does not arise. The Minister mentioned it in passing and the Deputy is entitled to refer to it in passing, but he will not be allowed to debate the question. It is not relevant.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  It would appear that you significantly select me to prevent me from offering criticism of the reasons why certain constituencies are overloaded, and as to why a form of gerrymandering is taking place in connection with this Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Chair is pointing out to the Deputy that he is not in order.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  If I am not in order in discussing the reasons given by the Taoiseach for giving extra representation and the reasons given by the Minister, I do not know what I am entitled to speak about.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is entitled to refer to the remarks made by the Minister and by the Taoiseach but he is not entitled——

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  With your consent, I shall refer to the various remarks. I do not want to delay this debate by dealing sentence by sentence with the speech of the Minister, or sentence by sentence with the contribution of the Taoiseach. I have no desire to hold up the House and I shall endeavour to give a precis of what they tried to convey in the shortest possible time and with your permission, Sir.

As I have suggested, the Minister for Local Government put forward an [458] argument as to why certain constituencies have been allowed to keep representation, which, on the figures and the statistics available, they no longer deserve. One of the reasons put forward was the size of the counties concerned and the geographical set-up. Again, may I refer to the fact that the Taoiseach himself added to the remarks of the Minister by suggesting that Donegal, East or West, was an area that, for geographical reasons, could only be in the form of two separate constituencies.

Having accepted that point of view, let us get down to some of the reasons put forward by the Minister for the favours conferred on Donegal, Galway and one or two other areas. They were the large areas involved and that the type of terrain was such that it was very difficult indeed for Deputies to get the views of the people they represented, for the people themselves to meet the Deputies and put their grievances and also to enlist the aid of the Deputies as the Minister said in connection with grants and so forth to which, in my opinion, the individuals have a right, without having to approach any Deputy.

It would appear that there is a volume of opinion in the Government that a Deputy's main duty is that of grievance officer or that he is a person whose main function is to listen to grievances and take the necessary steps as a public relations officer to have those grievances rectified. If too much emphasis is given to that aspect of a Deputy's work, his work in this House will suffer, and even though we may not think it of ourselves as individuals, we are charged with the responsibility, as members of the House, of scrutinising all Bills and all suggested legislation which come before us. I would ask any Deputy in the House now to say honestly how long it would take him to make a study of the Bills which come to him in the post each week. If he honestly gives his time to a study of those Bills, is he in a position to carry out this work of acting as a messenger between the Departments and his constituency? Alternatively, if he has to concentrate on being a messenger between Departments and his constituency, is he alive to all sections of [459] Bills coming before the House which may, in the long run, be prejudicial to the interests of the community?

I mention these matters because I feel this debate should, to a great extent, have dealt with matters of that nature and I feel that the time is now ripe when, as I hope, the line of approach will no longer be the question of the sides taken in the Civil War and Deputies can get down to brass tacks, read the Bills and study them and come into this House armed with the necessary information on how to criticise constructively the various measures before them.

Debate adjourned.

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