Ireland is a democracy (the Constitution prescribes it). A democracy implies equality of voting in parliamentary elections.
The 2006 Census showed wide disparities between the actual population of many constituencies and the âofficialâ? populations of those constituencies.
In the light of that knowledge the Government did nothing. (It is a legal fiction that the Oireachtas is responsible for the revisions; the initiative lies with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government).
Consequently, the recent General Election was fought on the basis of inaccurate constituencies (from the point of view of a democrat).
In April 2007 the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government appointed a new Constituency Commission to revise the constituencies in the light of the âfinalâ? 2006 Census results issued by the Central Statistics Office.
The Constituency Commission is currently sitting. It has had a new member appointed.
What it has not done is to acknowledge the need for urgency in its task, as pointed out by the High Court.
The Irish High Court has found that the Oireachtas has a constitutional duty to urgently revise electoral constituencies in the wake of any census revealing the need for such changes. Failure to revise means there is inequality of votes amongst the electorate.
The previous Commission reported in 2004, having digested and processed the results of the 2002 Census. Thereafter, it took the Oireachtas about eighteen months to transpose the report into an Electoral Act establishing the revisions in law.
During the hearing of Murphy & McGrath v The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government & Ors the Court heard evidence from Odran Flynn that he was equipped to do a full constituency revision for all Ireland in about three days (in his bedroom).
Is it not time to co-opt him to the services of the Commission?
PS. It is inaccurate to say of Murphy & Anor v The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government & Ors., that it “authorised” the use of preliminary Census figures in preparation for use on receipt of the “final” figures from the CSO. It, in fact, enjoined the use of those figures in the interests of speed and urgency. More to the point, it endorsed the obvious: use accurate figures when they become available.