With the deadline approaching for submissions to the Government’s local election boundary commission, the political shape of Galway is set to be noticeably changed before the end of the year.
By the middle of next year, Galway’s local election wards will have been transformed into new constituencies, have a different configuration of seats, or both.
Last month, Environment Minister Phil Hogan established the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee to review the local electoral make-up of the State ahead of the 2014 Local Elections.
The committee is inviting submissions and the closing date is Friday January 25 at 5pm. Submissions will be made available on www.boundarycommittee.ie after they are received. The committee’s report will be considered by the minister as the basis for the revision of the local electoral areas.
Currently Galway city has 15 seats distributed between three wards - Galway City West (four seats ); Galway City Central (four seats ); Galway City East (seven seats ).
It is already known the city is in line for three new seats as under the terms of reference of the boundary committee there must be a “minimum total of 18” councillors (one member for every 4,830 population ).
As such the task for those making submissions for Galway is how best to arrange the increased number of seats. Two options are understood to be favoured - three wards with six seats each, meaning the west and central wards would gain two seats and the east would lose one; or split the city in two, using the Corrib River as the dividing line, and have just two wards with nine seats each.
Both options would also be keeping within the commission’s terms of reference, which state: “The number of councillors representing a local electoral area should typically be seven and not more than 10 or less than six.”
Labour city councillor Niall McNelis is encouraging those making submissions to push for three wards with six seats each, as he believes two nine seaters would “make a mess of everything and be an electoral area that is too big”.
The boundary commission must report to the minister no later that Friday May 31 2013.