Review recommends extra MEP for Midlands-North West
The government is widely expected to ratify a recommendation from the Independent Electoral Commission which will see the allocation of Ireland's extra European Parliament seat to the Midlands-North West constituency.
Westmeath and Roscommon are already part of the sprawling 13-county constituency, but the Electoral Commission has now recommended the inclusion of 175,027 voters from Laois and Offaly, both of which are currently located in the South constituency.
The Commission said this provides “exceptionally good equality of representation” across the country, with “very good” variances that are close to zero per cent.
The Midlands-North West constituency is currently made up of 13 counties, namely Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, and Westmeath. The sitting MEP's are made up of two Fine Gael representatives, Maria Walsh and Colm Markey, one Sinn Féin member, Chris McManus and Roscommon Independent, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.
The recommendation to expand the constituency comes after the European Parliament voted in September to allocate an additional seat to Ireland ahead of the European Parliament elections in June 2024.
Speculation is already rife as to who stands to benefit from the latest recommendation, with Fianna Fáil Senators Lisa Chambers from Mayo and Niall Blaney from Donegal having already announced plans to run for a seat and Laois-Offaly Fianna Fail TD, Barry Cowen, thought to be considering throwing his hat in the ring also, though he has not confirmed his intentions. Fianna Fail currently has no European Parliament seat in the Midlands-North East constituency.
The Green Party has no representation at European level across the newly-expanded 15 county constituency either, but Galway -based Senator, Pauline O'Reilly, releasing a statement earlier today confirming her intention to run and stating that “now is the time to elect our region's first Green MEP”.
Independent MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan is widely expected to retain his seat, but there is speculation that another very vocal Independent voice across the Midlands-North West region, that of Michael Fitzmaurice, may also be in the mix for the next European Elections which are due to take place in June 2024.