Boundary changes prompt mixed reaction

Proposed changes affecting constituency boundaries has led to a mixed reaction by politicians and voters this week.

Proposed changes affecting constituency boundaries has led to a mixed reaction by politicians and voters this week.

The planned overhaul would effectively bring about the reunification of Leitrim with large swathes of west Cavan including Arva also forming part of a new look Sligo-Leitrim constituency.

For some, such as Mullahoran and Cavan County Councillor, Danny Brady, the announcement couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“There is a potential loss of 13,000 voters. When you think that eight miles from Cavan town people are going to be voting for someone in Sligo-Leitrim, it just doesn’t make sense. Are these people mad? It’s an awful stupid thing to be doing if you ask me,” said a more than irate Cllr Brady.

The Cavan politician was at pains to stress the importance of keeping the status quo intact, pausing to reveal some voters were already beginning to question the planned overhaul.

“They (voters) are laughing at the idea and that’s the truth,” he angrily put it. “One person said to me that they wouldn’t be voting at the next election. I just think it is a crazy attitude these people (constituency commission) are taking. Rural Ireland is decimated as it is. This whole area will not be represented by anybody.”

As well as Cllr Brady’s neighbouring parish of Gowna, other areas of Cavan affected include Crossdoney, Ballyconnell, Killeshandra, Ballintemple, Swanlibar, to likes of Dowra in Co Leitrim.

It effectively means the constituency will drop from five seats to four, placing added pressure on the likes of sitting Cavan based TDs Brendan Smith (FF) and Joe O’Reilly (FG).

“It’s hard to know, it’s a long way down the road (next election) but Brendan Smith would lose out a lot in that area as that would be his home base. Joe O’Reilly would lose out a good bit too. It’s up in the air, but can you honestly see someone from Sligo-Leitrim having any interest in parts of Mullahoran, Loch Gowna and parts of Cavan?”

If Cllr Brady’s own take on events were decidedly pessimistic, the view was an altogether different one in nearby Co Leitrim.

Dromod Cllr Sean McGowan said locals could not be happier with the commission’s decision to reunite the county with former constituency opposite number, Sligo.

“We are delighted with the news,” replied a buoyant Cllr McGowan. “The way it was structured before (Roscommon South Leitrim and Sligo North Leitrim) was farcical if you ask me.”

Looking ahead to the changes which are expected to take effect in the lead up to the next general election, Cllr McGowan said the announcement could have far reaching consequences for present day politicians.

“I would see Frank Feighan (Roscommon South Leitrim) having difficulties. He is a personable fella, but it will be difficult for him,” he said, laying claim to the Fine Gael TD’s criticism over last year’s Roscommon Hospital stand-off.

Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan said he was not worried by the prospect of seeing large chunks of East Galway merging with Roscommon to form a three seat Roscommon-Galway constituency. “I don’t mind where they (Constituency Commission) put me though I have made a lot of friends in the likes of Mohill and Carrigallen,” he said.

Outgoing Mayor of the county, Cllr Eugene Murphy took a more reflective approach, admitting the changes presented a “huge challenge” to Fianna Fail.

“Denis Naughten as an independent is safe I would say and Ming Flanagan is very strong. The one that stands out, and he won’t thank me for this, is Frank Feighan,” he said.