Web Analytics
"Redistribution of Seats: Limerick Unionists Concerned" | Limerick Gazette Archives

“Redistribution of Seats: Limerick Unionists Concerned”

The idea of redistribution has always been cherished by the Limerick Unionist Party, and with the failure of Chamberlain’s fiscal policy becoming increasingly apparent, it is not surprising that the question of reducing Ireland’s representation in Parliament is being actively discussed on English platforms. While the Act of Union secured the current number of parliamentary seats for Ireland, some argue that the same act should not be used as a reason to deny Home Rule but can be used as a basis for considering redistribution.

The violation of treaties with Ireland by England has been a recurring theme since the Treaty of Limerick, so it is argued that similar outcomes could occur now. While it is unclear whether the government supports the proposal to merge certain Irish constituencies, their supporters in England and the Unionist press are advocating strongly for a redistribution bill. However, in the current precarious position of the Ministry, such a measure would likely face significant opposition in the House of Commons. The Liberals and Irish members can be expected to resist, potentially creating a situation that the current government wishes to avoid.

Of local interest, it has been mentioned that Limerick is one of the seats under threat in the proposed redistribution bill. Speaking at the National Liberal Federation meeting in Bristol, Mr Augustus Birrell, KC, stated that if the threshold for disfranchisement is set at 5,000 electors, Cork would lose one member, and Galway, Kilkenny, Newry, and Waterford would inevitably be absorbed into county constituencies. However, the most concerning statement for Limerick is Mr Birrell’s mention of doubt surrounding the city. He stated that “the case of Limerick is in doubt, for as its electorate is declining, it is quite possible that the number of voters on next year’s register may fall below 5,000.” In other words, he suggests that Limerick could be merged into the county electorate under redistribution.

Mr Birrell’s statement appears to be influenced by the significant number of voters removed from the lists during the recent Municipal Revision. Limerick previously elected two members of Parliament, and even if the 5,000 electorate threshold were adopted, it would be scandalous to disfranchise such an ancient borough. However, it seems that Mr Birrell’s statement is based on a lack of knowledge regarding the number of voters interested in the election of Limerick’s parliamentary representative. The city and its suburbs are estimated to have over 7,000 parliamentary votes, even considering the removal of approximately 3,000 claims. If the 1,729 voters in the suburbs were absorbed into the county electorate, the city would suffer under a strong Unionist Party.

This potential outcome must be guarded against if a redistribution bill is introduced in Parliament. There is also the concern of the entire county being merged into a single constituency instead of the current two, which would have equally negative consequences.

Limerick Echo – Tuesday 15 November 1904