THE Ireland South constituency will gain an extra MEP at the European elections next year.
A boundary review proposes to move Laois and Offaly into the constituency and increase the number of seats from four to five. Meanwhile, Dublin will go from three to four seats, while Midlands-North-West will remain at four.
Ireland is gaining two MEPs due to Brexit, with the United Kingdom’s 78 seats in the European Parliament being divided between the remaining member states after it leaves the EU next March.
The European and local elections and a number of referendums will take place on May 24 next year.
Ireland South’s four sitting MEPs are Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune and Seán Kelly, Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada - who is running for President - and Brian Crowley.
Mr Crowley was elected for Fianna Fáil, but was ejected from the parliamentary party after aligning himself with the European Conservatives and Reformists group instead of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. He has not attended parliament or appeared in public in 2014 due to issues with his health.
Ms Clune welcomed the increase in the size of the constituency: “I am delighted to welcome the counties of Laois and Offaly to the new five-seat Ireland South Constituency. I look forward to visiting Laois and Offaly over the coming months to meet the communities there and hear how we can work together.
“I know Mairead McGuinness MEP has been a tremendous public representative for these two counties over the last ten years and I look forward to continuing Mairead’s work on behalf of the people of Laois and Offaly in the European Parliament,” she said.
Mr Kelly welcomed the increase in Ireland’s representation.
“It would be a challenge to cover 12 counties but if anyone has the energy and enthusiasm to do so – that’s me! It is unfortunate the UK has decided to leave, however, the EU must look to the future and therefore, it is necessary to plan for the redistribution of seats.
“It is beneficial for Ireland to gain another two voices in the European Parliament and that is certainly welcome,” he said.