The recommendation of the Constituency Commission to reduce Mayo from a five-seater constituency to a four-seater was approved by Cabinet this week.
The result of this controversial decision will see a large section of south Mayo, including Ballinrobe town, transferred into the Galway West constituency.
After the 2016 General Election this move could have serious repercussions for Fine Gael which currently holds four of the five seats in Mayo, with Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary completing the ticket.
With the Taoiseach’s own constituency now a seat down, his party will have to restructure the divisions allocated to each candidate during canvassing in the lead up to 2016 if the party is to recapture its four seats. However, this is an unlikely scenario and it is expected that Deputy John O’Mahony will be most affected by Mayo’s downgrade.
Local Fine Gael county councillor Patsy O’Brien has expressed his disappointment at the constituency change, especially for the people who have given long service to Fine Gael in the area. At present there is no decision to interfere with the county council boundaries but according to Cllr O’Brien that does not mean that there will not be changes. “The people up here are in an awful state over it. They feel they are being let down and are asking us [councillors] privately what ye are doing to us,” he told the Mayo Advertiser.
With more than 10,000 votes now lost to the Mayo constituency, the political landscape in Mayo will never be the same and only time will tell how a Galway TD and Mayo councillors will work together.
There are also talks that the future of the town councils could be in jeopardy leaving Mayo’s three such institutions in limbo while a decision is being reached.