The plan to do away with the two Tipperary general election three seater constituencies and replace them with one five seater has led to angry exchanges between Fine Gael and South Tipp TD Mattie McGrath.
Deputy McGrath clashed with Environment Minister Phil Hogan, who is expected to announce the abolition of South and North Tipperary constituencies to create one county Tipperary constituency, in the Dail and also with South Tipperary Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes over the proposal.
In the Dail, Deputy McGrath alleged that Minister Hogan said he would make sure the constituency boundaries were sorted to ensure he “would not be there” before accusing Deputy Hayes of “giving up “ on the South Tipperary constituency.
Deputy McGrath said the constituency blow was the latest in a series of setbacks for South Tipperary. The loss of Kickham Barracks and St. Michaels psychiatric unit with the Minister’s base of Kilkenny profiting as a result of both showed what county had the political clout.
Deputy Tom Hayes accused Deputy McGrath of talking “utter nonsense” and said it was misleading to draw parallels between Kilkenny and Tipperary.
He said that the biggest issue prior to the general election was the retention of South Tipperary General Hospital and that had been achieved.
“We won the hospital issue hands down. Clonmel dog track has received massive funding ahead of Kilkenny and Tipperary was the only county outside of Cork and Dublin to receive the Queen. Kilkenny did not win there either,” insisted Deputy Hayes.
Deputy McGrath asked iif Deputy Hayes had any influence as “everything was being taken from us” and said it made no sense to have deputies representing such a large area with a distance of 117 miles between Carrick and the bridge at Portumna.
“It’s an attempt to destroy local democracy” insisted Deputy McGrath and said that South Tipperary was set to lose out in the Constituency Commission Review due to be published.
Deputy Hayes said that the constituency Commission was a national issue and would effect other constituencies.
“It’s all about cutting back on Oireachtas members to save money and cut out some of the bureacracy. It’s the only path. We have to cut out the wastage that was there. Things have to change and we have to cut out the wastage. You are either on one side or the other, you cant be on both like Deputy McGrath,” said Deputy Hayes.
Independent TD Seamus Healy said that one constituency for the county would involve a huge area.
“It would be very difficult to serve the lot of it but it would have to be done,” said Deputy Healy.