Electoral (Amendment) Act 2009

PART 4

Constituency Commission

9.

Substitution of Part II of Electoral Act 1997.

9.— The Electoral Act 1997 is amended by substituting the following Part for Part II:

“PART II

Constituency Commission

Establishment of Constituency Commission.

5.— (1) Upon the publication by the Central Statistics Office, following a Census of Population, of the Census Report setting out the preliminary result of the Census in respect of the total population of the State there shall be established by the Minister, by order, a commission (in this Act referred to as “a Constituency Commission”) to perform the functions assigned to it by this Part.

(2) A Constituency Commission and its members shall be independent in the performance of their functions under this Act.

(3) Every order made under subsection (1) shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made.

Functions of Constituency Commission.

6.— (1) It shall be the function of a Constituency Commission to make a report in relation to the constituencies for—

( a) the election of members to the Dáil, and

( b) the election of members of the European Parliament.

(2) In preparing a report under subsection (1)( a) a Constituency Commission shall, in observing the relevant provisions of the Constitution in relation to Dáil constituencies, have regard to the following:

( a) the total number of members of the Dáil, subject to Article 16.2.2° of the Constitution, shall be not less than 164 and not more than 168;

( b) each constituency shall return 3, 4 or 5 members;

( c) the breaching of county boundaries shall be avoided as far as practicable;

( d) each constituency shall be composed of contiguous areas;

( e) there shall be regard to geographic considerations including significant physical features and the extent of and the density of population in each constituency; and

( f) subject to the provisions of this section, the Commission shall endeavour to maintain continuity in relation to the arrangement of constituencies.

(3) In preparing a report under subsection (1)( b) a Constituency Commission shall have regard to the following:

( a) the total number of members of the European Parliament to be elected in the State shall be 12 or such other number as may be specified for the time being pursuant to the treaties governing the European Communities;

( b) there shall be reasonable equality of representation as between constituencies; and

( c) the matters specified in paragraphs ( b) to ( f) of subsection (2).

(4) The reference in subsection (2)( c) to county boundaries shall be deemed not to include a reference to the boundary of a city or any boundary between any 2 of the counties of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin.

Membership of Constituency Commission.

7.— A Constituency Commission shall consist of the following members:

( a) (i) a judge of the Supreme Court, or

(ii) following consultation with the President of the High Court, a judge of the High Court,

nominated by the Chief Justice, who shall be the chairperson of the Commission;

( b) the Ombudsman;

( c) the Secretary General of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government;

( d) the Clerk of the Dáil; and

( e) the Clerk of the Seanad.

Provisions in relation to members.

8.— (1) Where, before the reports of a Constituency Commission have been presented to the Chairman of the Dáil under section 9, the person appointed to be chairperson of the Commission—

( a) through ill-health or other reasonable cause becomes unable to act as such chairperson, the Chief Justice shall assign another judge of the Supreme Court or, following consultation with the President of the High Court, another judge of the High Court to be a member and the chairperson of the Commission,

( b) ceases to hold office as a judge of the Supreme Court or of the High Court, the person shall continue as such chairperson until the reports of the Commission have been presented unless the Chief Justice assigns another judge of either court to be a member and the chairperson of the Commission.

(2) Where the holder of an office referred to in paragraphs ( b) to ( e) of section 7, through ill-health or other reasonable cause, is unable to act as a member of a Constituency Commission or any such office is vacant, the Minister may appoint, in the case of—

( a) the Ombudsman, the Director General of the Office of the Ombudsman,

( b) the Secretary General of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, another officer of the Minister, who is an established civil servant for the purposes of the Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956 to 2005,

( c) the Clerk of the Dáil, the Clerk Assistant of the Dáil, and

( d) the Clerk of the Seanad, the Clerk Assistant of the Seanad,

to be a member of the Commission and the person so appointed shall remain a member of the Commission until the reports of the Commission are presented to the Chairman of the Dáil under section 9.

(3) Where, before the reports of a Constituency Commission have been presented to the Chairman of the Dáil under section 9, a person who is a member of the Commission ceases to hold an office referred to in paragraphs ( b) to ( e) of section 7, the person shall continue as a member of the Commission until the reports of the Commission have been presented unless the Minister by order directs that the person's successor in office or the appropriate person referred to in subsection (2) shall be a member of the Commission.

(4) Subject to subsections (1), (2) and (3), a Constituency Commission may act notwithstanding vacancies in its membership.

Report of Constituency Commission.

9.— (1) As soon as may be after publication by the Central Statistics Office of the Census Report setting out the final result of the Census referred to in section 5(1) in respect of the total population of the State and, in any event, not later than 3 months after such publication, the Constituency Commission shall present to the Chairman of the Dáil—

( a) a report containing the recommendations of the Commission in relation to the constituencies for the election of members to the Dáil and any alteration of those constituencies which the Commission considers appropriate, and

( b) a report containing the recommendations of the Commission in relation to the constituencies for the election of members of the European Parliament and any alteration of those constituencies which the Commission considers appropriate.

(2) A report of a Constituency Commission under this section may indicate that, in the opinion of the Commission having regard to subsection (2) or (3) of section 6, no alteration is required to be made in the constituencies to which the report relates.

(3) Upon the presentation by a Constituency Commission of the reports to be presented under this section, the Commission shall stand dissolved.

(4) As soon as may be after the receipt of a report of a Constituency Commission, the Chairman of the Dáil shall cause such report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

Constituency Commission to invite and consider submissions.

10.— (1) A Constituency Commission shall, as soon as may be after its establishment, give public notice of its intention to make a report relating to—

( a) the constituencies for the election of members to the Dáil, and

( b) the constituencies for the election of members of the European Parliament.

(2) As soon as may be after its establishment, a Constituency Commission shall prepare—

( a) a statement setting out the relevant provisions of the Constitution in relation to Dáil constituencies to which the Commission is required to have regard in preparing a report under section 6(1)( a), and

( b) statements based on the population as set out in the Census Report setting out the preliminary result of the Census referred to in section 5(1) in respect of the total population of the State showing, for the constituencies for the time being in force for Dáil and European elections, in relation to each constituency:

(i) the number of members of the Dáil or European Parliament, as the case may be;

(ii) the population of the constituency;

(iii) the population per member of the Dáil or European Parliament, as the case may be, of the constituency; and

(iv) the percentage variation of population per member of the Dáil or European Parliament, as the case may be, of the constituency from the national average population per member.

(3) The public notice referred to in subsection (1) shall indicate that—

( a) the statements prepared by the Constituency Commission under this section shall be made available free of charge by the Commission, to any person wishing to examine them, in such manner as shall be specified in the notice,

( b) any person may make a submission to the Commission in such manner and within such period (which shall be not less than 3 months after the date of the giving of the notice) as shall be specified in the notice, and

( c) submissions received by the Commission in the manner and within the period specified in the notice shall be made available free of charge by the Commission, to any person wishing to examine them, in such manner and within such period as shall be specified in the notice.

(4) The statements prepared by the Constituency Commission, and any submissions received by it, under this section shall be made available free of charge by the Commission, to any person wishing to examine them, in accordance with a public notice referred to in subsection (1).

(5) The Constituency Commission shall consider every submission made to it in accordance with a public notice referred to in subsection (1).

Staff of and assistance to Constituency Commission.

11.— (1) The Minister shall make available to a Constituency Commission such services, including the services of staff, as may reasonably be required by the Commission.

(2) The Director General of the Central Statistics Office and the Chief Executive Officer of Ordnance Survey Ireland shall, on a request being made in that behalf, provide free of charge to a Constituency Commission such assistance as the Commission may reasonably require for the purpose of the performance of its functions.

Expenses of Constituency Commission.

12.— The reasonable expenses of a Constituency Commission, including the travelling and other expenses of the members of the Commission, shall, subject to such conditions as the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance may determine, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Procedure of Constituency Commission.

13.— Subject to the provisions of this Act, a Constituency Commission shall regulate its own procedure.

Prohibition on disclosure of information.

14.— (1) No person shall, without the consent of a Constituency Commission, disclose to any person any information obtained while serving as (or during service as) a member of the Commission or as a person whose services are made available to the Commission under section 11 relative to the business of the Commission or the performance of the functions of the Commission.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5,000.

Prohibition of certain co- mmunications.

15.— (1) Subject to the provisions of section 10, it shall not be lawful for any person to communicate with the members of or staff whose services are made available to a Constituency Commission under section 11 for the purposes of influencing the Commission in carrying out its functions.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5,000.”.