The 2019 Local Elections are less than a year away – and the changes to the various areas have been announced by the government’s Boundary Committee.
Laois has been left largely unchanged – with the same three Municipal Districts of Portlaoise, Graiguecullen-Portarlington and Borris-in-Ossory-Mountmellick all remaining the same in terms of seats.
In total there will still be 19 councilors in Laois in three Municipal Districts.
The only change of note sees Clash – between Mountrath and Abbeyleix – move from the Portlaoise district to Borris-in-Ossory-Mountmellick.
The areas in question are Boley Upper, Shanahoe, Cappanacloghy, Killeany, Scotchrath and Springmount.
The report, published on the Local Government website, explains that this move will “improve the population variance”.
The decision keeps Portlaoise as a seven-seater with Borris-Mountmellick and Graiguecullen-Portarlington both remaining as six-seaters.
The move of Clash out of the Portlaoise district is expected to effect sitting councillors Mary Sweeney (Fine Gael) from Ballyroan and John Joe Fennelly (Fianna Fail) from Abbeyleix more than their Portlaoise-based counterparts.
The local councillors for Clash now will be Brendan Phelan (Independent), John King (Fine Gael) and James Kelly (Labour). The other three councillors in that area are David Goodwin (Fine Gael), Paddy Bracken (Fianna Fail) and Seamus McDonald (Fianna Fail).
Following the death of Jerry Lodge, there are now six councillors in the Portlaoise district – Mary Sweeney and Willie Aird (Fine Gael), John Joe Fennelly and Catherine Fitzgerald (Fianna Fail), Noel Tuohy (Labour) and Caroline Dwane-Stanley (Sinn Fein).
The six sitting councillors in the Graiguecullen-Portarlington district are Aidan Mullins (Sinn Fein), Ben Brennan (Independent), Padraig Fleming and Paschal McEvoy (Fianna Fail) and Tom Mulhall and John Moran (Fine Gael).
The Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee report was commissioned by John Paul Phelan, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The five-person committee was chaired by Geraldine Tallon, former Secretary General at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.
The committee looked at 25 local authorities around the country and while it didn’t recommend any increase in the overall number of council seats, it has suggested a number of changes in other counties.
Carlow, for example, has been changed from two districts to three – but remains at 18 seats in total. Kildare remains at 40 seats with five districts but there have been changes to their make up with Athy reducing from six seats to five while Naas has gone from nine to seven. Kildare-Newbridge has increased from nine to 11 and Maynooth going from nine to 10. Celbridge-Leixlip remains at seven.