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Local election areas set to be redrawn again


MORE NEW BOUNDARIESThe boundaries used for local elections in Mayo have been redrawn for the third time in nine years.

Edwin McGreal

Just five years after Mayo local election boundaries were radically redrawn, they look set for more changes.
The local elections in 2014 saw elections take place in four new municipal districts in Mayo – Ballina, Claremorris, Castlebar and West Mayo.
However, recommendations released this week are set to return Mayo to six electoral areas once more, as was the case prior to when the 2013 changes were approved.
The new plans provide for the following local electoral areas – Ballina, Belmullet, Castlebar, Claremorris, Swinford and Westport.
The plans will see wholesale changes to the Claremorris and West Mayo municipal districts.
The current West Mayo Municipal District, which currently covers a large swathe of land from the bridge in Leenane to Blacksod, will be split into two for the local elections.
There will be a four seat Westport Local Electoral Area and a three seat Belmullet Electoral Area. It will split between Newport and Mulranny, effectively at Tiernaur, the base of Cllr Michael Holmes.
The Claremorris Municipal District, which also covers a large area from the bridge in Shrule to Charlestown, will also be split up.
Claremorris Electoral Area will be a six-seater with the old Swinford Electoral Area reforming as a four-seater.
Swinford will be drawn from Charlestown and Kilkelly, which are currently part of the Claremorris Municipal District, combined with Swinford and Foxford, which are currently part of Ballina Municipal District, and Kiltimagh, currently part of Castlebar Municipal District.
However, there will still be four administrative municipal districts in Mayo. The Claremorris-Swinford Municipal District will comprise the Claremorris and Swinford local electoral areas.
The Westport-Belmullet Municipal District will consist of those two electoral areas.
Ballina and Castlebar municipal districts will comprise entirely of those two respective local electoral areas – Ballina as a six seater and Castlebar as a seven seater.
It appears that councillors elected in a local electoral area will have functions in respect of the whole municipal district they are in, i.e. a councillor elected in Belmullet can decide on Westport matters and vice versa, a councillor elected in Swinford can decide on Claremorris matters, etc.
Geraldine Tallon, the Chairperson of the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Number One submitted a detailed report to John Paul Phelan, the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government on Wednesday last.
The terms of reference include that local electoral areas shall not have less than five councillors except for ‘compelling circumstances’ where three or four-seat areas are recommended ‘where otherwise the geographic size of the area would be disproportionately large’.
Speaking at a meeting of Mayo County Council earlier this year, Minister of State Phelan said ‘if your local councillor is 50 miles away, then he is not your local councillor’.
There are only five three seaters recommended in the entire country in this report, of which Belmullet is the only one in Mayo.
Swinford and Westport are two of just 17 four seaters recommended. The report said that where three or four-seater areas have been recommended, they are included with a second local electoral area to form a municipal district.  
In total, Mayo will still have 30 councillors, as currently exists, one less than was in place before the 2014 changes came into force.

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