Tuesday, 26 March 1974
Dáil Eireann Debate
and in the administrative county of Wicklow the district electoral divisions of Cronelea, Coolboy, Coolattin, Shillelagh, Aghowle, Killinure, Rath, Money, Carnew, Ballingate in the former Rural District of Shillelagh”.
Mr. R.P. Burke: I was making the point that the proposals in Deputy Molloy's amendments were just not only to the people of the Dublin region but also to the people of the country. The people of Dublin do not expect favoured treatment. Under the Minister's proposals the country areas are getting reduced representation. Deputy Molloy's amendments would redress the balance.
I mentioned my own constituency of North County Dublin and the effect the Minister's proposals will  have on it, and I contrasted them with Deputy Molloy's proposals. At present the North County Dublin constituency is represented by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Seán Walsh and myself. It stretches from Balbriggan to Walkinstown. The Minister proposes to change this to a three-seater in an area from Santry and Ballymun to Balbriggan. Under the Fianna Fáil amendment it would be a five-seat constituency. It is publicly known that the Coalition Party members from that area and prospective candidates favour the idea of a larger constituency.
Mr. R.P. Burke: They feel that the people of North County Dublin would be better represented in an area electing five Deputies rather than three. West County Dublin is a completely wrong name for a constituency stretching out into the middle of County Kildare, out to Maynooth, and taking in Leixlip which everybody knows is not in County Dublin. It should be Dublin-Kildare rather than West County Dublin. The Minister proposes that this should be another three-seater. Then he goes around the country again to a place which he calls Mid County Dublin. If ever there was a mis-titled constituency this is it because Mid County Dublin as proposed by the Minister is not in County Dublin at all. There is one portion of County Dublin and quite a large portion of the city. I am sorry to see the Parliamentary Secretary leaving the House because he is known to be involved in this area. It also involves portion of County Wicklow. Even the title “Mid County Dublin” should be amended because nobody in his wildest imagination could describe Rathfarnham, within the city boundary, as being in Mid County Dublin.
Mr. R.P. Burke: Who could  describe Wicklow as Mid County Dublin? In his reply to Deputy Molloy the Minister said that constituencies represented by uneven numbers of Deputies were ideal having regard to the working of the PR system. He conveniently forgot his proposal about Dún Laoghaire. He suggests that it should be a four-seater. I was thinking about this during Private Members' Time. I had thought of making the point that the Minister decided on this because it is the Taoiseach's area and the Minister has a colleague in the area, and it was probably his intention to make sure that the Taoiseach would have an easy ride together with a Labour candidate. I thought that would be implying improper motives to the Minister so I decided I would not say it.
The Minister proposes that Dún Laoghaire should be a four-seater whereas every other constituency in County Dublin and in the greater Dublin area is to be a three-seater. I wonder why the Minister picked this constituency out of all the others in the Dublin region? Mid County Dublin is to be a three-seater. North County Dublin is to be a three-seater. South County Dublin is to be a three-seater. West County Dublin is to be a three-seater. Dún Laoghaire—surprise, surprise—is to be a four-seater. Dublin (Artane), Dublin (Ballyfermot), Dublin (Cabra), Dublin (Clontarf), Dublin (Finglas), Dublin North-Central, Dublin (Rathmines-West), Dublin South-Central and Dublin South-East are all to be three-seaters.
Mr. R.P. Burke: It would be appropriate for the Minister to say that. Obviously this is the attempted gerrymander of the century, without putting a tooth in it. When the 1969 Bill was going through the House there were accusations that it was a gerrymander Bill purposely designed to keep Fianna Fáil in power. It has been shown that this was not so because, if it were, the Minister would be sitting over here and we would be sitting over there. It was a democratic Bill designed to give the people a choice. The Minister does  not even attempt to justify his decisions. This is a bald attempt to copperfasten the present regime in power.
I know the Minister had a problem and that he would like to have seen a three-seater in Dún Laoghaire but, being a member of a Government comprised of two parties, he has to bow to the wishes of the other party on certain occasions and in particular to the Leader of the other party. That is fair enough. Earlier on in the debate Deputy Molloy made points in a spirit of fair play and spoke about the representation that the people in the country and in the city were entitled to. The Minister should justify some of the decisions rather than attack Deputy Molloy and what he stands for and the amendments he proposed.
The Minister spoke a lot about fair play. He is recognised and likes to think of himself as a person who considers the rights and interests of others. This could be seen in the Minister's own statement when he mentioned the constitutional situaation, something which I should like to deal with with the indulgence of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. In 1968 when the Constituency Commission Bill was introduced the present Minister said, and I quote from column 1136 of the Official Report for 26th November, 1968——
I believe the Bill introduced by Deputy T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan) which, according to the Minister for Local Government would have been proposed if his previous proposal had been carried by the country, is the proper way to draw up the constituencies for the country. We believe also that if we do not do that we will have what both he and the Taoiseach desscribed  as the danger of gerrymandering. We want the danger of gerrymandering eliminated——
I agree with the views expressed by the present Minister in 1968 when he was speaking on behalf of the Labour Party. I hope this is the last occasion on which we will ever see this type of legislation being introduced in this House irrespective of which side it comes from.
Mr. R.P. Burke: The fact that the Minister is getting one bite of the cherry should be sufficient. I believe that immediately after the passing of this Bill the Minister should establish a Constituency Commission which would mean that this type of legislation would not come before the House again.
The Minister made the point that his main aim in the Dublin area was to have as many constituencies represented by an uneven number of Deputies as possible. This is desirable but Deputy Molloy also considered what the Minister said and took him at his word in submitting these amendments. Deputy Molloy has proposed that North County Dublin should be a five-seater while the Minister has suggested it be a three-seater. There is still there the desirable uneven number which the Minister hopes will bring in a Labour man.
Mr. R.P. Burke: The amendments proposed by Deputy Molloy meet the same requirements considered necessary by the Minister when he introduced this Bill. The principle enshrined in the Bill, if legislation of this type can be described as a Bill, was that the Dublin area, and most constituencies in the country, should be represented by an uneven number of Deputies. However, we have had the glaring exception of Dún Laoghaire.
Mr. R.P. Burke: The Minister proposes three seats for North County Dublin while Deputy Molloy has suggested five seats. For the Dún Laoghaire area Deputy Molloy is proposing five because he believes that this number, an uneven number, meets the requirements and the wishes of the Minister. Deputy Molloy has proposed nine three-seat constituencies which are roughly the same as the three-seaters suggested by the Minister.
The constituency suggested by Deputy Molloy, and now represented by me among others, would be a much more fairly designed one than that proposed by the Minister. Take, for example, the Minister's suggested constituency of Mid County Dublin. It has nothing whatsoever to do with mid-County Dublin. It includes part of the city, part of the county and  part of County Wicklow. In his proposed constituency of West Dublin you have part of County Dublin and part of Kildare. There is my own area of Fingal. It should be called “Fingal and the City of Dublin”.
Then there is the butchery which the Minister has done on the city constituency which is now known as Dublin North-East. It is now to be Dublin (Clontarf), Dublin (Artane) and Dublin (Finglas). One of the professed aims of the Minister was to preserve the new town of Ballymun as a single unit. What he has done is to move the boundary there out a few yards and he has succeeded very well in splitting Ballymun. He may be preserving part of Ballymun but he is cutting up another part of it and, of course, his reason for this is to shore up the Labour Party in that constituency. He will not succeed. It is common knowledge that the Minister's party are a lost cause in that area.
Mr. R.P. Burke: The Minister is moving the satellite town of Ballymun into one constituency with the misconception that the people in that town will vote Labour. On the contrary, the people in that area are among my strongest supporters and I look forward to being their representative in the next Dáil.
Mr. R.P. Burke: It does not mean the Minister's gerrymander will succeed. The Minister has shown in his White Paper on Local Government that he does not have any concern for the people of greater Dublin. The people in the city, apparently, are far superior to and more equal than those outside. All of us in the greater Dublin area are first or second generation countrymen. My people originally came from Mayo. The Minister  did not touch that particular constituency except to add a little of Roscommon to it.
Mr. R.P. Burke: My nerves are sound, thanks be to the good Lord. The Minister's gerrymander attempt will fail miserably in the next general election. The people of Dublin cannot wait to get their hands on the Government who made so many wild promises.
Mr. Tully: I do not want anyone to be in a position to accuse this side of the House of wasting time. We have had one set of amendments on which we had two speakers, Deputies Molloy and Burke. Deputy Molloy spoke on the Second Reading for more than an hour. Neither of them has been prepared to come anywhere near the amendments. I do not know who drew up the amendments for them, but certainly they know very little about what the amendments propose to do. Deputy Burke's efforts were particularly puerile. Having accused me of putting four seats in Dún Laoghaire for the purpose of saving the Taoiseach's seat—I do not know how he expected the Taoiseach would lose his seat—he then said it was because I wanted to ensure that the Labour man would be all right. Deputy Molloy's proposal was to give five seats to Dún Laoghaire. How are we supposed to follow that kind of logic? I cannot.
In regard to North County Dublin, Deputy Burke spoke about shoring up the Labour Party there. I propose to give it three seats, he suggests that we give it five seats. He tries to give the impression that Ballymun is one big area and that everyone in Ballymun is affected in the one way. In  case Deputy Burke does not know, the last breaking up of constituencies resulted in Ballymun—the Towers, the new area—being put into three constituencies. I put them into one. The fact that the area, portion of which is known as Ballymun, the old area of Ballymun, is put in two other constituencies does not mean there is anything wrong with it. I have arranged for compact constituencies with local names which are easily recognisable all over Dublin. Nobody need have any doubt that the areas in this Bill are easily recognisable and will be well represented by three Deputies.
A sugestion has been made here that we are trying to do what Fianna Fáil Minister Kevin Boland attempted to do for Fianna Fáil and for which he got little thanks from them. He attempted to cement Fianna Fáil in power. He could not do it and nobody can do it. I want to make it very clear —I said it on the Second Reading and I repeat it—that in four years' time when the next general election comes along the result will depend on whether the Government have been doing well or ill. Anybody who attempts to get a crystal ball now to forecast what will happen then is not being realistic. The situation is that we have set up three-seat constituencies in Dublin and for the third time may I explain that since there were 43 seats in the area in 14 constituencies, I do not know in what way we could divide them except into 13 three-seaters and one four-seater, unless Deputies Molloy and Burke know some way of dividing a seat between three or four different constituencies.
Mr. Tully: At a later stage I shall remind Deputy Burke of the comments he made regarding whether the constituency should be called Dublin-Kildare or Dublin-Wicklow and I shall point out what exactly was done by Fianna Fáil when they were in office. For 50 years Fianna Fáil had the right to change constituencies but  now that right has been taken from them and, consequently, they are wailing like banshees. They must grow up.
Mr. Tully: Both Deputies Molloy and Burke indicated that they would be in favour of setting up a commission to deal with this question. Had not Fianna Fáil a sufficient number of years in which to make up their minds? The first occasion on which such a possibility was referred to favourably by a member of that party was when Deputy Jack Lynch, who, having conceded grudgingly that he had lost the general election, said almost in the next breath that it might be a good idea to set up a commission to decide on constituency changes. I wonder why he chose that occasion to indicate his favouring such a commission.
Mr. Tully: Our proposals for redrafting the constituencies are reasonable but after I have straightened out the position I shall still be of the opinion that it would be a good idea to set up a commission to deal with this question. First, though, I am endeavouring to undo 50 years of Fianna Fáil's gerrymandering. That is what is being done here. The Bill before us is designed to give a fair deal to everybody in the country. For 40 hours Fianna Fáil have discussed  the dots and commas of the first few sections of the Bill. They thought they were being clever and that in this way they were putting off indefinitely the day on which the Bill would be passed. For their information let me tell them that any time they waste now is their own loss because the more they discuss the Bill and the more they continue to bring in matters which are not relevant to it, the shorter will be the time for dealing with aspects of the Bill which they might consider important.
Mr. Molloy: We have received an outright threat from the Minister. He has indicated a vindictive attitude and in his contribution he has made no attempt to answer the points that we put clearly and simply to him. Any democratic institution would expect at least that a Minister charged with the responsibility of introducing legislation would make some attempt to justify the provisions of that legislation but there has been no attempt whatever on the part of the Minister to explain, for instance, why, in the west, a greater number of persons are to be required to elect a Deputy than is to be the case in Dublin.
Mr. Molloy: My amendments indicate that a fairer method of distribution could have been arrived at and I have shown that a fairer method should have been devised. The Minister has not told us why it takes fewer members of the population to elect a Deputy in the Dublin area than in the rural areas.
Mr. Molloy: My amendments are designed specifically to right the wrongs that we see in the Bill. All the Minister has done is to trot out a lot of nonsense. He has not attempted to give us any explanation for the discrepancy that I have mentioned.
Mr. Molloy: The Minister has a great facility for claiming that when we are on Second Stage we make Committee Stage speeches and that when we are on Committee Stage we make Second Stage speeches. Obviously, no matter what we say the Minister will wriggle his way out of it.
Mr. Molloy: The main point of the amendments we have tabled is to show that within the provisions of the Constitution and in terms of the decision of the Supreme Court on the question of a tolerance above or below the national average, the Dublin area should have been given only 41 seats. Can the Minister tell us why he has chosen to allocate 43 seats to the Dublin area? Instead of increasing that number by five, as proposed in the Bill, our amendment proposes to increase it by three. We want the Government to explain how they can justify their proposal for such an increase in this constituency while at the same time they are endeavouring to deprive the Munster region——
Mr. Molloy: My amendments were tabled for the purpose of showing that, having regard to the additional four seats which the Constitution allows by reason of the change in population as shown in the 1971 census and taking into account the Minister's proposal to take two seats from the west, his distribution is unfair and illogical and cannot be justified. Here we are on Committee Stage asking the Minister who introduced the Bill to make even one statement justifying his proposal to  add five new seats to the 38 already in existence in Dublin while depriving the west of two and not paying any attention to the population increase in Cork.
This is an extraordinary measure. It is outright gerrymandering; it is unbelievable that it should even have been attempted. There is no effort being made by the Minister to justify it. We are being told it will be rammed through this House by the use of a measure which is used very seldom and used very judiciously by any Government, the guillotine. We are going to see it in operation for the second time in a few short weeks.
Mr. Molloy: In considering these amendments one has to bear in mind what was the thinking applied by the Fianna Fáil party in drawing them up. We shall go through them individually if that is the way the Chair wants the debate to proceed. In the Minister's proposals the constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny is made up of the administrative counties of Carlow-Kilkenny and part of County Wexford. We are saying in the amendment that there was no need for the Minister to put such a large slice of County Wexford into the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency. We have shown here that a much smaller part of the county of Wexford could have been transferred to Carlow-Kilkenny than the Minister has taken. We propose transferring only the electoral divisions of Moyacomb, Newtownbarry and St. Mary's, in the former rural district of Enniscorthy. That is only three electoral divisions as compared with the Minister's proposals to transfer also from Wexford into Carlow-Kilkenny, Kilrush, Kiltealy, Rossard and Tombrack, and Ballybeg, in the former rural district of Gorey. Also in amendment No. 1 we propose adding to the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency, as well as that very small piece of Wexford—because taking those three electoral divisions away still leaves the constituency of Wexford within the  tolerance range and the constitutional limits for a four-seat constituency—part of Wicklow, because the constituency of Wicklow as it stands is a three-seat constituency. Its population now is in excess of the figure for a three-seat constituency, and it would have to cede some of that figure, but the Minister decides that it would cede into Dublin, which we feel is an extraordinary decision and shows urban-orientated thinking on the part of the Government. If anything needed population support, it should have been outward from Dublin not inward towards Dublin, and we propose ceding that part of Wicklow which is in excess of the maximum figure for three seats to the constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny which can absorb it along with the small part of Wexford. We feel we have left a tidier Wexford constituency in taking away only three electoral divisions and that we have made the right decision in relation to Wicklow——
Mr. Molloy: We had to make a decision in putting down the amendment, and that was our decision. We believe our decision was right and showed a greater recognition of the difficulties of rural areas as against urban areas, and the Minister's proposal displays very clearly the urbanised thinking of the Government. I am surprised that the Minister has succumbed to this, because he himself is one of the few to come from a rural constituency.
At no point in all the discussions that takes place here will I claim that what I have put down by way of amendment is an absolutely perfect solution. What I am anxious to show is that the overall distribution of seats could have and should have been done in a fairer manner. To prove my point I had to do a revision of the constituencies of the whole country. There could be small changes or even major changes in any proposals I have made. The important thing is that, in accordance with the over-riding principle the  population increase in the south, and in Dublin, and the population differences in the western area, it would have been fairer to have granted three seats to the Dublin area, one to Munster, one to North Leinster, and for Connacht to lose only one rather than two; even though it could have retained the two, but it would have involved dividing the county of Leitrim into three, and I do not think any of us would want to see that done again.
Mr. Molloy: There were no proposals when I left office. We are not saying amendment No. 1 is absolutely perfect but generally, we think it is fair. If there is a fairer way to do it that still allows the overall allocation of seats, we shall be happy to accept any arrangement of the size of the constituencies within the overall limit of the number of seats, whether it be three, four or five, I do not think we would have any serious complaint with the Minister, because this is a point on which opposing sides would always hold different opinions; even members of the same party will have different opinions as to whether it  should be three, four or five. Our disagreement is in regard to the lumping of five new seats into the Dublin area, which does not even want this special treatment. Not alone is this being foisted on the people of Dublin but it is being done at the expense of other areas, where it now takes more persons for a Deputy to be elected than in the Dublin area. There is no sense or logic to that state of affairs.
Mr. Molloy: I am on amendment No. 1, but I shall move on in a moment. This attitude is very surprising, especially for a Government who held out some ray of hope when they went into office that they would act in an enlightened manner. This is positive proof of the depths to which the Government have sunk. The next amendment, No. 8, proposes certain changes in pages 5, 6 and 7 of the Bill. It proposes deleting the entries relating to the constituencies of Mid County Dublin, North County Dublin, South County Dublin, West County Dublin and Dún Laoghaire, and replacing them with new constituencies.
The constituencies proposed by us in our amendment are : a three-seater in South-West County Dublin; a five-seater in North County Dublin; a four-seater in South County Dublin and a five-seater in Dún Laoghaire. There is nothing sacrosanct about the size, the names or the areas of those constituencies or about the areas included in each of the amendments I propose. I am not saying this is the most perfect way in which it could have been done. I am saying that changes similar to these would have allowed for the allocation of three of these new seats to the Dublin area rather than five. That must be borne in mind in all our thinking in drawing up these amendments. I have no strong feelings as to whether  North County Dublin should be a three, four or five-seater; whether South County Dublin should be a four, a three or a five-seater, or Dún Laoghaire a three, four or five-seater. I have shown that by availing of the tolerance allowed by the Supreme Court decision the Minister could have topped up these Dublin constituencies, still stayed within the constitutional limit and allocated three new seats to Dublin.
That is amendment No. 8. There is not much point in delaying the House with the actual details. My own words will indicate that I do not see much point in listing them here because I do not hold that it is the most perfect way in which to do it or that there is anything sacrosanct about the exact areas, names and sizes. But it is a way which, overall, would have meant a fairer result.
... to delete the entries relating to the constituencies of Dublin (Artane), Dublin (Ballyfermot), Dublin (Cabra), Dublin (Clontarf), Dublin (Finglas), Dublin North-Central, Dublin (Rathmines West), Dublin South-Central, Dublin South-East....
and then proposes to substitute the constituencies proposed in my amendment. Those constituencies are: a three-seater in Dublin North-Central; a three-seater in Dublin North-East; a three-seater in Dublin (Artane); a three-seater in Dublin (Finglas); a three-seater in Dublin (Cabra); a three-seater in Dublin South-Central; a three-seater in Dublin South-East and a three-seater in Dublin (Rathmines West). If one takes a closer look at my amendments one will see that, as far as possible, I have tried to apply what I imagined was the criterion the Minister was applying. He laid down the criterion that he wanted three-seater constituencies. He has not explained satisfactorily or adequately to the House why he choose a three-seater constituency in a densely-populated area like Dublin. But I have accepted that as the premise on which  I have made my amendments; that we draw up the amendments on the basis he has laid down, on his own criterion of three-seaters. By comparing the Minister's table in his explanatory memorandum, the population per Member, and the deviation from the national average population per Member as shown in that table, one can see that all I have done is to add further electoral areas—or wards as they are called in the county borough area of Dublin—to the constituencies and in that way, brought them above the population per Member that the Minister laid down in his Bill but still did not exceed, at any stage, the maximum number per population allowed by the Constitution.
This shows the clever, devious means used by the Minister to try to boost the number of seats in Dublin by taking a lower figure than was allowable. My amendments show clearly that by going for the higher figure per population per Member, staying within the maximum allowable by the Constitution and the decision of the Supreme Court, we could have ended up with something similar to the Minister's own constituencies, only slightly larger, but having the great difference that overall, we would end up with 41 under my amendments, which is 38 plus three new seats being created in those various constituencies and which we claim is the only fair way of doing it; fair to the people of Dublin and fair mostly to the people in rural Ireland. This has not been done. That was the thinking behind my amendments and I have shown that it can be done.
Marvellous statements and claims were made by speakers behind the Minister in the Second Stage debate on this Bill. It is quite obvious they made no study of the figures whatsoever. They got up, like good little boys, behind the Minister—as marshalled at that stage—supported him, told him he was doing a marvellous job because that is what they were told to tell him. But some people on the Minister's side made some stupid statements. Saying that there was not adequate population in the west to retain anything more than 28 seats  was an outright untruth; was a device used by Government members to try to justify what the Minister is doing here; to try to cover up what he is doing and cloak over the discrimination contained in this document.
In the Minister's Bill he proposes that the constituency of Kildare be a three-seater. I have followed that in my amendment. The Minister proposes that the constituency of Kildare shall comprise the administrative county of Kildare except the parts thereof which are comprised in the constituencies of West County Dublin and Meath. Therefore, we see that the Minister has put portion of Kildare into County Dublin and has put another portion into County Meath. According to the Minister he has been striving in this revision Bill to maintain county boundaries. It would be much wiser for the Minister to drop that claim because any reading of the Bill will show that that has not been done. Indeed, I accept that it would have been very difficult for the Minister to have complied with county boundaries, but it is rather ludicrous to continue to make the claim that he did make great efforts to maintain them. I suppose the Minister did make some effort but it was not very great because the crossing of county boundaries is quite substantial. The Minister's proposal is that there should be three seats in County Kildare, excepting the portions going into Counties Dublin and Meath.
It is interesting to note that the counties of Kildare and Meath have very similar population figures. In fact, in the 1971 census, there were more persons recorded as being resident in County Kildare than in County Meath. One could argue that if one or other  of these was to be made a four-scater constituency, on the grounds of fairness and justice, it should be Kildare. But the Minister choose to cut down Kildare by putting one portion of it into County Dublin and another into Meath, and made the four-seater constituency in County Meath which has not as high a population as County Kildare. When one sees something like that one has to look behind it and one wonders: why did he do that? Then one suddenly realises that that is the Minister's own constituency——
Mr. Molloy: The House can decide whether or not I am responsible. The Minister will not put me off that easily. There were six seats to be distributed. According to what the Minister has done with the west and the population changes, there were six seats to be distributed; he put five of them into County Dublin and one into his own constituency of Meath. He should not expect us to sit down as meek little boys and accept that piece of gerrymandering without commenting on it here. We know the Minister has the votes and can marshal it through if he can make sure he will have enough here when the time comes to vote.
Mr. Molloy: ——and the House knows that on the Health Estimate there would not have been any vote before 7.30 p.m. Certain members of our party had commitments, including our Leader and the Minister should not be so small as to cast against us that we did not have our full muster here this afternoon. We could not have.
Mr. Molloy: I was dealing with amendment No. 12 which comes under group A. I think I have shown to the House that the proposal in our  amendment is a fair one and one which would be much more acceptable to the community at large than what the Minister is proposing. Our arguments are somewhat negatived by the Minister's and the Government's indication of the use of the guillotine which implies that none of these amendments will be considered seriously. We can only act as any democratic Opposition can, make our case and explain why we are proposing certain changes. We can continue to debate this Bill in the fashion that is normally acceptable in any democratic parliament building in the world.
The Minister has made this debate exceptional by hanging over it this threat of no consideration being given to amendments and threatening to close the debate with one fell swoop whenever he so wishes. We will ignore that threat and continue to make our contributions in an orderly fashion despite no contribution from the Government benches and no justification from them for any of the provisions in the Bill.
We all accept that the total population for County Wicklow is in excess of the maximum figure for a three-seat constituency and that it either has to be topped up by the transfer from the surrounding area to make it a four-seat constituency or  it must concede some of its area to surrounding constituencies to allow it to continue as a three-seat constituency. The Minister has chosen to retain Wicklow as a three-seat constituency. Our amendment also proposes that it be a three-seat constituency. The only difference is that the Minister chose to transfer out of Wicklow, in order to bring it down to the required maximum figure for a three-seat constituency, an area to Dublin. He transferred part of Wicklow to Mid County Dublin constituency and another part to South County Dublin constituency. Our amendment clearly illustrates our endeavour to give fair play to rural Ireland, the areas where there are the greatest problems in this country. Our thinking is outward from Dublin, not inward as is evident in the Minister's proposal.
Mr. Molloy: I was referring to amendment No. 20 which deals with the constituency of Wicklow. I pointed out that the population in the constituency of Wicklow is in excess of the maximum figure for a three-seat constituency. As the Minister has indicated that he wants to retain Wicklow as a three-seat constituency some of its area had to be transferred to another area. Our amendment follows the Minister's criterion in this in that it proposes that Wicklow be a three-seat constituency, but instead of the area the Minister proposes to transfer to Dublin we propose that part of Wicklow be transferred to the adjoining constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny which, as it stood was within the tolerance range but sufficiently below the maximum to allow for the absorption of part of an adjoining constituency. In accordance with our philosophy of assisting weaker areas we thought it would be preferable for Wicklow to cede to Carlow-Kilkenny than to tie part of Wicklow up with part of County Dublin. That is what is proposed in the group of amendments we are discussing.
 To illustrate the overriding factor which determined our attitude to the Minister's Bill and which influenced our thinking in drawing up those amendments—the unfair distribution of the new seats—I should like to quote some figures. The county of Carlow has a population of 34,237. Kilkenny has 61,473. The county of Dublin has 852,219. Kildare has 71,977 and Wicklow 66,295. Those five counties make up a grand total of 1,086,201. In the Minister's Bill he proposes to allocate 54 seats to that area. Our amendment proposes allocating 52 seats to that area. If 54 seats are allocated to those five counties, as the Minister proposes to do it, it works out at an average population per Deputy of 20,114. I do not need to remind the House that the national average is 20,123, so the Minister has gone below even the national average, whereas he had a tolerance range of 1,000 above that again. Our amendment proposes allocating 52 seats to that area, which would work out at a population of 20,888 per Member. The figure of 20,888 is nearer to the type of average that the Minister has been applying in rural areas than the figure of 20,114.
The one big flaw in the Minister's proposals is that it requires fewer persons to elect a Deputy or to create a seat in the area under discussion than it does in the rural constituencies with which we will be dealing later. That is a bad philosophy on the part of any Government. It is extraordinary that any Government should attempt to give such electoral advantage to an area which is already advantaged vis-à-vis the rest of the country anyway. There is some strange thinking behind it which requires clarification and elaboration. We ask for some explanation of this discrimination against rural areas. We ask why the tolerance range has been applied to the advantage of Dublin and to the disadvantage of rural Ireland. We pose these questions in all sincerity. We have no wish to prolong discussion of this Bill in any way but we feel that it is a Bill that requires full and adequate consideration because there is quite a lot behind this Bill which the ordinary  public will not become aware of unless these facts are highlighted in this House. I would ask the Minister to reply to some of these points.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy must be making a mistake. There was a Second Reading in this House. He made a number of points on the Second Reading and they were replied to. In fact, I went into great detail in telling Deputy Molloy the reason when introducing and when replying to the Second Reading. I also went into great detail in pointing out to Deputy Molloy what he had in mind when he was Minister. He has introduced amendments which he first told us he had worked on for hours himself, more hours than we have spent on the Bill in the House, and we have had 40 hours already. He subsequently said the Fianna Fáil Party prepared them. I think he is not quite sure who prepared them. They do not seem to have been too well prepared anyway.
Mr. Tully: The Bill was prepared on my instructions by my officials. I did not hear Deputy Dowling complaining about the number of seats in Dublin either. He is quite happy. He is smiling and so well he might.
Mr. Tully: I am sorry Deputy Burke is not here. He spoke about the butchering of constituencies. Every time Fianna Fáil changed the constituencies they changed the Dublin boundary so as far as butchering is concerned, if that is the word he likes to use, we just followed the example of our predecessors, but we made a decent job of it and most reasonable people are satisfied with what we did.
I am glad Deputy Lalor has come in because we were talking about Carlow-Kilkenny and Deputy Molloy was suggesting taking a smaller portion of Wexford than was put into Carlow-Kilkenny. The situation is that I am arranging to take exactly the same portion as was taken previously; in other words, I am not changing that area.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy seems to think that if he and somebody else have thought of a way of changing constituency boundaries it must be right in the end; he seems to think that we should get up and cheer when he makes his suggestions.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy has queried the justification of giving 43 seats to Dublin. The simple answer is that this number is justified by population. From time to time I have heard the argument being made that a large area, irrespective of population, should be entitled to representation in the House. For instance, Deputy Cunningham spoke about the length of Donegal and what a large area that county covered. In some peculiar way he thought we should do better but he did not put down an amendment. He is quite satisfied that five seats make him safer and I am not quarrelling with that. He is satisfied to talk about other areas.
Mr. Tully: So far as Dublin and the areas covered by the amendments are concerned, the Bill before the House is the correct way to deal with the matter. The Opposition have not put forward any reason to show why a change should be made. Consequently, I do not propose to make any change.
Mr. Molloy: The Minister has said we have shown no reason to justify support for our amendments. The Minister has not answered a straightforward, simple question I put to him. why does it take 500 more persons in the west to elect a Deputy than in the east? Will the Minister tell me where is the justice in this?
Mr. Tully: The Deputy has been trying to make great play about this. We have remained within the regulations. Deputy Molloy has told us he did not propose anything but I have four different proposals——
Mr. Tully: I do not have to answer  the Deputy. It is his job to justify the amendments in his name. He does not know how to do this because he does not understand them himself. He read out the amendments and talked a lot of rubbish but he did not make a case for any of them. So far as the Dublin area is concerned, we were perfectly entitled to do what we did. We have not given over-representation——
Mr. Tully: The Dublin area is entitled to the number of seats it has got. If Deputy Molloy felt as strongly about this as he now claims, is it not extraordinary that since the census of 1971 he did not make any move except to doodle in his office and to have four different proposals drawn up regarding the constituencies? Was it a case that he could not get agreement with the rest of his Cabinet? He got the chance to introduce a Bill if he wanted to but he did not do so despite the fact that the onus was on the Government to do so before the last election. They did not do so because they could not get agreement.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy has accused us of doing something wrong because we have introduced a Bill that gives, a fair distribution of seats to the people throughout the country.  I wish to repeat that it is people who are represented, not areas. The Deputy has asked me to explain certain matters. Is it any wonder I do not pay much attention to what he says when five or six of his party, Deputies Cunningham, Haughey, Faulkner and Lalor and himself said that there should be at least 148 Deputies in the new Dáil and that they would support that view. In fact, Deputy Haughey thought there should be 200 Deputies. After expressing that view they voted against it.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Cunningham said that the Opposition spokesman for Local Government was not challenging a division. Later he said, “We on this side of the House are prepared to give the Minister section 2 of the Bill”. After that they walked through the lobby and voted against it. I have told the Opposition that the sooner they grow up and realise what they are doing the better.
Mr. MacSharry: My question is a follow-up to those asked by Deputy Molloy. The Minister has said that Fianna Fáil are attempting to give representation to areas rather than to  populations. Can the Minister tell me why it takes 1,718 more people to elect a Deputy for Sligo-Leitrim as against Dublin South-East? Why does it take 1,772 more people to elect a Deputy for Sligo-Leitrim as against the Meath constituency while in Donegal it takes 1,864 and in Roscommon-Leitrim 1,881 more people to elect a Deputy. People in the north-west are being deprived by the Minister of fair representation. In the Dublin constituencies there are areas of less than two square miles. We have areas in the north-west stretching from 75 miles up to 130 miles.
Mr. Crowley: On a point of order, this arose at an earlier stage today and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle ruled that we could refer in passing to these things without going into detail because, as Deputy Molloy pointed out, every constituency is dependent upon every other constituency.
Mr. MacSharry: If I am to make my point in relation to the Dublin South-East constituency I must exemplify the area deprived of representation as a result of this revision in the north-west of Ireland. The Minister has accused us of not making a logical approach. The fact is that the population of the north-west is being deprived of fair and proper representation. I would like the Minister to clarify this because people are entitled to know why they are being deprived of representation here. Goodness knows, they have been deprived of much already and now they are being deprived of this also. Why does it take so many more people, as against the Dublin South-East constituency, in Sligo-Leitrim 1,718, in Donegal 1,864 and in Roscommon 1,881, to elect a representative to this House as compared with the Meath constituency, which is on the east coast and therefore in a more advantageous position? I am very concerned about this. I could not care less what Minister for Local Government reorganises or revises constituencies because it is the people eventually who will decide what representatives they will have here. Let no Minister for Local Government think and this has been proven, that any constituency revision will copperfasten any political party or combination of political parties in control in this House. That has been proven. The Minister asked today why should he accept this amendment since it would take 1,000 more people to elect a TD in Dublin than it would in Cork and that was his reason for not accepting the amendment.
Mr. Tully: What I said was that it was illogical for Deputy Molloy to make the point about Dublin while at the same time suggesting that Cork would require the reverse. I think that was a logical argument. Remember, I put five seats in Donegal.
Mr. MacSharry: And the Minister put four in Meath for himself. I am amazed that rural Deputies on the  other side of this House have not made this point or sought the clarification to which they are entitled on behalf of those they represent. This large section of the rural community should not be deprived of representation and let no one think that public representatives will get away with it. We are entitled to clarification.
Under the proposed tolerance areas constituted of two square miles in the cities will be over-represented and it will take many more people to elect representatives for a great many more square miles in the north-west. The Minister has categorised this argument as cynical and foolish. He said we were seeking representation for acres of land. The Bill shows that the Minister is depriving 1,864 people in north-west constituencies per Deputy of proper representation here. The Minister must explain this.
Mr. Tully: Deputy MacSharry was talking about the fact that representation was close to 1,000 more in the  west than in Dublin. This is the type of selectivity which has been engaged in by Fianna Fáil in this Bill. In fact, the tolerance ranged from a plus 996 to minus 976——
The court declared that there is “no direction whatsoever contained in the Constitution that these matters of difficulties of communications, differing economic interests, differing modes of life or the convenience of constituents or the difficulties of deputies or any of the other matters relied on by the defendant, should be taken into consideration when the legislature is performing its functions in enacting the electoral laws”.
The court concluded that in determining constituences the legislature was required to aim at the achievement of as near an equality of the parliamentary representation  of the population as can be attained.
Mr. Tully: I am being selective. I am entitled to be selective when they are being selective in the very same way. Under the Bill there are 54 seats in the Dublin region with a population of 1,860,201. That is an average per Deputy of 20,114. It is very close to the national average of 20,123. Deputy Molloy's proposal would give 22 seats to the same population which would be an average of 20,888. Fianna Fáil cannot have it both ways. We stuck close to the national average. We stayed within the Constitution. We have done everything correctly and the only thing worring Fianna Fáil is that they may possibly lose a seat. How can they lose any more seats in the west? They lost them the last time and they cannot lose them again. What are they moaning about?
Mr. Callanan: I must say a couple of words on the tolerance question. The Minister has said almost what I intend to say. He admits that he is being selective. This is where the difference comes in. I was never in favour of a commission because I think it is the duty of the Minister to do what he is doing and stand over it whether we like it or not. There is a tolerance of 1,000 one way or the other. They are being selective in favour of urban Ireland.
Mr. Callanan: Admittedly the amendments are selective in favour of rural Ireland. That is the difference. It is as simple as that. One favours urban Ireland and the other favours rural Ireland. Both are legal. It  annoyed me when western Deputies got up on the far side of the House and said you could not give the seats to the west. You certainly could. That would be favouring the country. There is no doubt about that. The Minister is entitled to favour the city and that is what he has done.
Mr. Callanan: I intend to say a lot about Galway when we come to it. The tolerance is there and when people say they could not give us the seats they are not telling the truth. They had 1,000 to play with up or down and they favoured the city.
Mr. MacSharry: In answer to the few questions I asked the Minister read out the ruling of the court of which we are all aware. He said that he did not have to go by area or the convenience of Deputies and so on. We will accept that much. An argument he was pursuing prompted me to ask him those questions. He accused us of not knowing what we were doing in putting down the amendments and of not being in a position to discuss them. He said that we were asking for something that looked to be very stupid which was representation in this House for square miles of land.
Mr. MacSharry: Amendment No. 9, dealing with Dublin South-East. I do not even know whose constituency it is. To enforce our arguments about the population of the west, and the north-west in particular, we must give these examples. The Minister can call them what he likes, selective or otherwise, but the facts are there. The general public should be made fully aware and his own backbenchers from the same area will, I hope, make the public fully aware of the fact that they are being discriminated against. As I said, it takes 1,718 fewer people to elect a Deputy in Dublin South-East than it takes in Sligo-Leitrim. I am entitled to make that point on these amendments.
Mr. MacSharry: I am grateful to the Chair for allowing me to go as far as I did. While the Chair was being relieved by the Leas-Cheann Comhairle the Minister was pursuing this argument. I sat here and listened for quite a number of hours while he talked about us.
Mr. MacSharry: The Minister said that we were stupid enough to be looking for representation in this House for areas or tracts of land and that we were not putting forward the case for giving fair representation to the population. I gave the Minister specific examples taken from his own Bill. They cannot be denied. They prove that the Minister is not giving fair and equal representation to the rural population. This can be pointed out not in one or two selected constituencies  but in nine or ten. The basis of all our amendments is that the constituencies are being revised to favour the east coast rather than the west. That is fundamental to our argument. The Minister still has not answered my questions and I am entitled to an answer. Our amendments, stupid and all as the Minister may describe them, virtually give the answer. They are proving now the embarrassment entailed in this constituency Bill for the Government. To a large extent this was evident when the Government itself was picked and the west was left without any Minister. Here again the west is being further deprived of representation by not giving it the number of Members it is entitled to.
Mr. MacSharry: For too long the west has been deprived of many things but it is fundamental to democracy that the west, which is being depopulated daily, would not be deprived of its fair and proper representation in this House as is proposed under this Bill.
Mr. MacSharry: It is possible that there are reasons which can be put forward why the Minister will not accept our amendment in relation to the constituency of Dublin South East because it has been re-arranged and one of his colleagues is in that constituency. However, we have no fear for the member who represents us in that area and it is possible that he will bring in another Member for our party, but the Minister's colleague had to be copperfastened  there. It is possible that this is the reason why we see such deviation in Dublin South East as against the north western constituencies of Donegal, Roscommon-Leitrim or Sligo-Leitrim. I must give these examples or otherwise I would be talking nonsense in relation to the amendment. It is possible that the Minister, when I conclude, will say that I have been talking nonsense but this is his way of getting out of the embarrassment he finds himself in. These are the Minister's own figures and they prove discrimination in relation to the population of the west, the north-west in particular.
Mr. MacSharry: I accept the ruling of the Chair but the amendment I am speaking about is No. 9 which includes the constituency of Dublin South-East and which precludes us from doing what we consider necessary in the north-west. All the amendments are consequent on this one and that is why we must point to other constituencies during the discussion on it.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair already tonight pointed out to Deputy Molloy that we deal with a specific area and that is dealt with by his own amendments also. We will continue to take that course.
Mr. MacSharry: May we have the answer to this, although the Minister almost gave it when he spoke a short time ago? He stated that even the Constitution did not oblige him to give this representation that the west is entitled to. On several occasions the Minister put forward the excuse that for 50 years we did this job, but as I was never here before when such a job was being done I do not know what he is talking about. The Minister is doing this job now, and obviously he is going to do it his way. The procedure being adopted by the Minister is discriminating against the population of the west and north-west and the figures are here to prove this. These people are being deprived  of representation. The people living in the poorest part of the country are being deprived of representation in this House by this Bill.
Mr. Tully: If the Deputy permits me to do so I will deal with that aspect. I have talked on several occasions about selective statistics and I should like to quote some now. I am glad Deputy Cunningham is here to hear them because this is something which apparently he has not noticed himself. If we start with Donegal, a plus of 979——
Mr. Tully: The statement has been made that the Dublin constituencies were getting favouritism. West County Dublin is plus 889 and it has been compared with Donegal which is plus 979. I do not know where Deputy Cunningham will find any discrimination there. East Mayo is minus 851: South Tipperary is minus 794. From that one can see that the Opposition have only being picking the ones that suit. I have picked the overall figure and I have given the average.
Mr. Tully: We have enough borders and we are not going to have a border at the Shannon as Deputy Molloy is anxious to have. I have given the country average and the Dublin average and I have proved that taking the country average and the Dublin  average it takes more in Dublin than it does in the whole country. The Deputy cannot deny that. I have also taken a group around Dublin and a group in an other area in the country and again the same thing applies. I have been challenged about Donegal and the Dublin constituency and I am telling Deputies MacSharry and Cunningham that one of the Dublin constituencies that we have heard so much talk about is plus 889 and Donegal is plus 979.
Roscommon-Leitrim is plus 996; Sligo-Leitrim is plus 887, which is almost the same as West County Dublin. Do not let us have all this crying over there about the country. Of course there are areas where this does not apply but I should like to point out one other matter. Does Deputy MacSharry suggest that because Sligo-Leitrim or Roscommon-Leitrim are plus 887 and plus 996 that I should be able to give them one extra seat?
Mr. Tully: I told the Deputy earlier that he would need to grow up because he has not got the hang of it yet. The Deputy had the opportunity of doing it and he did not do it but now he is suggesting something which is not going to be accepted. We have carried out the arrangement, the Bill is introduced and it fits into the Constitution. No matter how much the Deputy moans about it he cannot deny that fact. The Deputy should not forget that he held up the first part of this Bill for 40 hours on a lot of nonsense. There is no use crying now if he finds he is running short of time for the matters which he considers important.
Mr. Molloy: I feel it obligatory to  clarify some misconceptions which have been promulgated by the Minister. Two very simple figures will prove my point. The Minister has tried to create the impression that the revision of constituencies has been done in a fair way and we are arguing on the basis of population per Deputy. The two simple figures I wish to refer to and which may have been lost when I mentioned them earlier concern the area west of the Shannon. In all the area west of the Shannon, in the Minister's Bill, it requires 20,509 persons per Deputy but in the whole of Ireland east of the Shannon which includes Dublin, Ulster, Munster and the rest of Leinster, it requires only 20,033. We are asking why there is discrimination west of the Shannon and why it takes nearly 500 more persons to elect a Deputy than in the area east of the Shannon. There is sheer and utter discrimination there.
Mr. Tully: It is funny to hear Deputy Molloy talk about incompetence. He spent two or three years in  the Department fiddling with figures and could not produce a Bill. Do not let him talk to me about incompetence. I have too much evidence of Deputy Molloy's incompetence——
Mr. Andrews: I know that he considers the Government's refusal to  accept these amendments to be discriminatory. We are having steam-rolling tactics of the Government on these amendments. We think the Minister's attitude to the west is significant. It has been dealt with by Deputy Molloy. It stems from the moment they were elected to office when they refused, with one exception, to appoint a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary from east of the Shannon.
Mr. Andrews: I am surprised at the Minister's attitude. I am surprised that he should ask me what the amendments are. The Minister has been in the House since 4 p.m. and he has the audacity to ask a Deputy from this side——
Mr. Andrews: The Minister should be ashamed of himself. This is typical of his entire attitude to the Bill. He knows he has the weight of numbers behind him to impose the guillotine. It does not matter what we say on this side. The amendments are quite clear. As Deputy Molloy has said, the representation being sought by the amendments is not unreasonable. It is to take 500 more persons to elect a TD west of the Shannon than east of it.
Mr. Andrews: That is what I am discussing. It is only fair to say that the Minister's attitude to Deputy Molloy's amendments is totally unreasonable. Earlier I described the Minister as a not unreasonable person. Now I again appeal to the Minister to take the view that the proposed amendments are very reasonable and can only improve the provisions of the Bill. I urge him to accept these amendments, not to reject them out of hand. He could even give us the hope that he would reconsider the amendments. I am sure everybody in the House was amazed to hear the Minister ask me what the amendments are all about.
Mr. Andrews: I cannot believe the Minister did not know which amendments were before the House. They are in front of him on a green paper and I refer him to them. It is only reasonable the Minister should know them. His question to me is typical of his general attitude to the Bill. I do not think the cause of democracy is being well represented by that attitude.
Mr. Tully: The Deputy would know more about star chambers than I would. I am not involved in them and neither are the people who elected me. If Deputy Andrews wants to involve star chambers he can do it. We had been discussing this Bill for 40 hours before 4 p.m. today. We then continued until 6 p.m. and then came back to it at 7.30, yet a Deputy of Fianna Fáil comes in here at 9.45, stands up and starts to lecture me on what I should do about the Bill, and he does not know what is in the amendments we are talking about.
Mr. Tully: We are discussing the Dublin constituencies and nobody can accuse the present Government of doing anything which is not perfectly fair. The average number of people that each Deputy represents is slightly more in Dublin than in the rest of the country. That being so, all this noise about areas not being represented adequately——
Mr. Tully: If Deputies are worried as to their not being able to represent a certain number of people in their constituencies, perhaps they should make arrangements to allow in somebody else who would do the job much better.
Mr. Tully: I have brought a fair Bill before the House but for some extraordinary reason Fianna Fáil are delaying the passage of it. Later they will probably complain of not having been allowed adequate time for discussion of the amendments they tabled although they know that they have gone fully into these amendments and have engaged in repetition in regard to them. They should accept that if they wish to have discussion on the Bill they must allow time for that. Forty-six hours have been spent on it already.
Mr. Andrews: The Minister has made a very serious charge against me. I was taken by surprise when he posed the question as to what the Bill contained and what was the nature of our amendments. I would have expected the Minister to have known what was being discussed in the House but for his information I can tell him that we are on the Committee Stage of the Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 1973. That is the first point. In relation to the amendments I wish again to be helpful to the Minister——
Mr. Andrews: I am not. Some very serious charges were made against me in that I did not know what was before the House. The Minister asked me specifically what we were discussing but I did not wish to embarrass him by telling him then or, as it were, by testing him.
and in the administrative county of Wicklow the district electoral divisions of Cronelea, Coolboy, Coolattin, Shillelagh, Aghowle, Killinure, Rath, Money, Carnew, Ballingate in the former Rural District of Shillelagh”.
In pages 5, 6 and 7 to delete the entries relating to the constituencies of Mid County Dublin, North County Dublin, South County Dublin, West County Dublin and  Dún Laoghaire and substitute the following...
We all know what has happened to my colleague—I say that in the friendly and not in the political sense —in the Dún Laoghaire constituency. We know what has been done by Fine Gael to that Labour Deputy not to mention the general treatment he has received from them. He has been gerrymandered ruthlessly.
In pages 7 and 8 to delete the entries relating to the constituencies of Dublin (Artane), Dublin (Ballyfermot), Dublin (Cabra), Dublin (Clontarf), Dublin (Finglas), Dublin North-Central, Dublin (Rathmines West), Dublin South-Central, Dublin South-East and substitute the following:
Mr. Andrews: I have given this information to the Minister in response  to his display of a lack of knowledge as to what was before the House. Deputy Molloy, without the benefit of the vast and dedicated bureaucracy which the Minister has in his Department, without all the trappings that are necessary in drafting a Bill of this kind, prepared these reasoned amendments.
Mr. Andrews: That is correct. These detailed amendments have been analysed by Deputy Molloy. This involved a considerable amount of work on the part of the Deputy. Therefore, it is only fitting to pay tribute to him in that regard.
Mr. Andrews: ——he might pay tribute to the wonderful work undertaken by the Deputy in the preparation of the amendments. We know that the Minister will be ruthless in his expurgation of the amendments. Some people know of the Spanish custom of garotting. We substitute the word “guillotine” for the cutting off of the debate.
Mr. Andrews: I was just going through the wording in the amendments.  I would appeal to the Minister, if he has any sense of decency at all, to stand up like a man and pay tribute to Deputy Molloy, in the interest of harmony, at any rate, between the Opposition and the Government. If the Minister was sitting over here—and it will not be long before he will be sitting over here—I think the Minister for Local Government in charge would pay him a tribute. Even at this late stage, I do not think it is too late to pay that well deserved tribute to Deputy Molloy.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Andrews has asked me to pay tribute to Deputy Molloy. I remember a previous occasion when I introduced 182 amendments to a Bill. I got no tribute from this side for doing it; I got abuse, although they were reasonable amendments. As far as I am concerned, Deputy Molloy, or whoever helped him to do the job, did a job with which I do not agree at all. I do not propose to pay tributes for something I do not agree with. I have been accused of threatening the guillotine here and of being unreasonable. However, The Sunday Press, March, 24th, contained the following:
The Revision Bill has been a big factor in delaying the passage of other legislation, some of great economic and social importance, through the Dáil. We therefore might not worry about who wins the tussle over the constituencies, but we have real worry over this distraction from work we are entitled to have done. So from our narrow viewpoint and without bothering about the merits of the political clash, we should be happy with the use of the guillotine or anything else that puts a quick end to the in-fighting.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Vivion de Valera would be able to tell the Deputy. Maybe he is not talking to Deputy Molloy but if he is he could ask him. As far as I am concerned, if Fianna Fáil want to make speeches and want to repeat and repeat, whether they are talking on the series of amendments before the House or not, this is purely their business, but they cannot make fools of this House or fools of the people. Everybody is satisfied that this playacting has gone on too long, indeed, as stated by The Sunday Press. If Fianna Fáil suddenly find that the game is over and that they cannot continue it any longer, there is no use in blaming us and saying we are jackbooting or anything else. They have had their opportunity: 45 or 46 hours, when the last Bill took less than half that, and the one before that even less than that.
Mr. Lemass: When the Minister read out that extract from The Sunday Press, which I read, too, it again reminded me of what the party Leader said here today: “What is all this urgency?” Did the Minister consider that the urgency of getting this legislation, which is not necessary until the next election, would indicate that his Fine Gael friends are going to try, perhaps, to pull the rug from under the feet of the Minister's party? When  Deputy Andrews was talking the Minister said he had something far more subtle in mind. My information is that we are going to find outr what this is on Thursday. The Minister is rubbing his hands in glee, but it is only fair to the House that he should explain what exactly he meant by that.
Mr. Lemass: Amendment No. 8 deals with the constituency I have the honour to represent. We find that the Ballyfermot and the Crumlin areas are linked up with areas of Tallaght, Saggart and Clondalkin, whereas the Minister proposes to link up Ballyfermot with as far out as the rural constituencies of Celbridge, Leixlip and Maynooth. Deputy Molloy's motion is that those linkings together will be built-up areas.
Mr. Lemass: Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 affect different constituencies in different ways. When I come to West County Dublin I find that Ballyfermot H and Crumlin West are now linked up with Blanchardstown, Castleknock, Clondalkin, Clonsilla, Lucan No. 1, Lucan No. 2, Newcastle, Palmerston No. 1, Palmerston No. 2, Rathcoole, Saggart, Terenure No. 1, and, in the administrative county of Kildare, the district electoral divisions of Celbridge, Donaghcumber, Leixlip, Maynooth, in the former rural district of Celbridge No. 1, and the following wards from the county borough of Dublin—Ballyfermot H and Crumlin F. I cannot see how those areas can be linked with one another and justify the Minister's claim on Second Stage that he intended to respect county boundaries. This is beyond my comprehension. In the amendment the Ballyfermot areas are being linked with Tallaght, Saggart, Clondalkin and so on, which are now becoming— if they cannot claim already to have become—urban areas. This has always been a problem for Deputies whether rural or urban—to represent the best interests of the whole country and that is what we are all elected to do. Naturally, there are pressures on Deputies which would apply differently to urban than rural Deputies. For that reason I would seriously urge the Minister to examine this movement of South Dublin into Kildare. Indeed, I think amendment No. 9 deals with that in regard to Mid County Dublin—there is Mid County and West County—Blessington, Kilbride, Lacken being mixed with Rathfarnham, and so on. In other words, it is a complete and absolute break-up of urban and rural types of areas.
The Minister should accept amendments Nos. 8 and 9. Amendment No. 9 is completely urban; the two areas, Dundrum and Milltown, as far as I am concerned, are urban areas. They are the only two in it that could be  classified as being in a county area. Dundrum is now an area of massive housing and shopping centres. Indeed, the problem now is for the local authorities to cope with the traffic going through the area.
What I would like the Minister to explain is why we have to bring rural Wicklow into Dublin city areas and why we have to bring rural Kildare into Dublin city areas. It is very difficult for me to understand. I am not at all concerned about three-seat constituencies. As is quite clear from Deputy Molloy's amendments our amendments are based on three-seat constituencies in the east of the country.
Mr. Lemass: They are afraid of the Deputy down there. As I said on the Second Stage of this Bill—and I am convinced of it—these three-seater constituencies, however constituted, will see the end of this Government and I expect to see that fairly soon.
Mr. Tully: I am sorry to have to raise this question again. In fairness to the House, if a Deputy comes in here—particularly a Deputy like Deputy Lemass who has been a Parliamentary Secretary—and speaks on an amendment to the Bill, at least he should know what amendment he is talking about and the House should be able to follow.
Mr. Tully: If Deputy Molloy is not able to get his troop behind him to follow what he wants to do that is not my fault and he certainly will not blame me for it. The situation is that Deputy Lemass proceeded to quote, for nearly ten minutes, sections of amendments and related  them to sections of the Bill to which they had no relation. What he was talking about bore no relation to the amendments. It is not good enough for Deputy Lemass or anybody else to come in to this House and attempt to put across a bluff like that. I will listen with patience to anybody who has a point. Deputy MacSharry is a typical example. Indeed, earlier Deputy Molloy and Deputy Burke made their points—whether or not I agreed with them—and related them to the amendments before the House. But it is not enough to come in at this hour, talk about amendments and try to relate them to sections of the Bill when, in fact, Deputy Lemass had not the foggiest notion what it was all about.
Mr. Tully: He was quoting, first of all, from sections to which he was objecting. Then he discovered he was quoting from the amendment put down by Deputy Molloy. He was objecting to something he thought was in the Bill but in fact was something he was supposed to be supporting.
Mr. Tully: All the bluff in the world will not get you out of this one because the record will show exactly what happened. If we want to debate sections of a Bill and amendments before this House, it is not good enough that we should have somebody come along who is not able to relate one to the other——
Mr. Tully: Deputy Lemass came in here tonight and spoke on amendments. He thought the sections he  was quoting were sections of the Bill whereas they were the amendments put down by his own party. He was objecting to them. If he likes, I will point out exactly where he made the mistake.
Mr. Tully: The Deputy does not have to repeat it because we will be able to read it in the Official Report in a few days' time. I hope Deputy Lemass will read it. I have too much respect for this House to see this sort of codology going on——
Mr. Tully: We should have a debate which at least relates to the matter before the House. As far as the county boundaries are concerned, might I point out to Deputy Lemass that, in the Bill there is a far smaller number of fractures of county boundaries than in any of the proposals Deputy Molloy was working on, in the amendments he laid down here and, indeed, in one particular group which has not even been put down but about which we hear a lot of talk where we would have to take bits of every county in the west and stick them together in an effort to give an extra seat to it.
Mr. R.P. Burke: The Minister speaks about the crossing of county boundaries. I am inclined to treat that with a certain amount of cynicism. The Minister speaks of the county I have the honour to represent, the county of Dublin. The present constituency of North County Dublin stretches from Balbriggan, right within the county boundary, the whole way down to Walkinstown with one crossing of the city boundary to take in the Baldoyle ward, an area which for many years was part of county Dublin and is not so much a new crossing of county boundaries as bringing back to county Dublin people who were with us in the past. The Minister, in his proposal, has crossed the county boundary, by moving into the city area in Ballymun; by moving into Kildare with his  West County; by moving into the city in his Mid County and by moving into Wicklow with his Mid County. I am delighted to see Deputy McMahon here because I know he is very anxious to speak about the proposal.
Mr. R.P. Burke: I was discussing the Mid County Dublin constituency as suggested by the Minister. I am glad that both Fine Gael Deputies from that constituency, Deputy McMahon and the parliamentary House.
Mr. R.P. Burke: The Minister's proposals suggest that in this constituency we cross the county boundary to bring in that part of Rathfarnham in which the Parliamentary Secretary assumed he got a few votes in the last election and also the section around Tallaght where Deputy Seán Walsh is very strong and in which Deputy McMahon lives. This constituency passes through part of West County Dublin, the area which is designed to reinforce the position of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Deputy Mark Clinton. I had the pleasure of standing with him in the last general election. He is an honourable, decent man. One could not hope to find a more honourable candidate and colleague. The Minister for Local Government, in order to copperfasten the position of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, has brought in the towns of Rathcoole and Saggart. He has ensured, by  this piece of gerrymandering, that if Deputy McMahon or one of the other candidates from the Mid County area wants to get from one end of the constituency to the other he must travel through parts of County Wicklow. I am sure any reasonable man who compares this with the amendment put down by Deputy Molloy will admit that Deputy Molloy's amendment is the better proposal. Deputy Molloy's proposal is much more constructive than the Minister's. The Minister has indicated that he will guillotine this debate if not during the next four minutes, tomorrow or sometime later.
Mr. R.P. Burke: We have not got a constituencies commission but assuming that we had and they looked at the proposals of the Minister and those of Deputy Molloy they would agree with Deputy Molloy's proposals.
Mr. R.P. Burke: An “independent corporation” rather than an “independent body” would describe the Minister. This hypothetical constituencies commission would accept the amendment put down by Deputy Molloy. Such an amendment would be seen as fair and reasonable by the electorate. We are talking about the Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 1973.
Mr. R.P. Burke: The amendment I am referring to deals with the attempted gerrymander of the greater Dublin area plus parts of Kildare and Wicklow. The Minister had a very difficult job because in drafting this Bill he had to attend not only to the needs of the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party but also to the individual needs of the Coalition Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries  who are residing within the Pale. We on this side of the House have a duty not only to the greater Dublin area, which deserves fair representation, but to the country at large. The Minister looked at this situation in the light of the Dublin mind and the Leinster mind rather than that of the country at large. He should look at the proposals put down by Deputy Molloy, reconsider his situation and at least accept the principles involved in the amendments. People in the country would have equal representation and a fair share of the national cake, to which they are entitled. I am speaking as a North County Dublin man. We do not expect unfair representation. We asked for fair representation for the country as well as for the constituencies in the Dublin area. We are not asking for favours which the Minister may be inclined to pass on to us.
|Last Updated: 14/09/2010 22:48:05||Page of 53|