Updated: 28/06/17 : 05:13:36
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'Brutal butchery' aids new constituency for Sligo

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

''BRUTAL BUTCHERY'' was how one sitting TD described the new Sligo Dail constituency announced last night, Tuesday.

First time Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy was speaking in Dáil Éireann shortly before 11pm.

North Roscommon in his area has just been transferred to Sligo, Leitrim and south Donegal in a surprise move.

Sligo and North Roscommon have many links over the past century. See link below.

The one-term experiment of moving West Cavan into this area has been abandoned.

The latest carve-up of counties has led Deputy Marc MacSharry to claim the Commission tasked with the decision on Dáil boundaries is ''no longer fit for purpose.''

The Sligo TD wants the Commission replaced with a formula to be approved by voters in a referendum.

His argument is bound to be fuelled by the naming of the new four-county, four seat, constituency as 'Sligo-Leitrim.'

Recklessly Carved

MacSharry -- who has family connections to Roscommon -- was underwhelmed at the latest Dáil boundaries proposed. 

The Commission considered sticking part of Mayo into Sligo -- a configuration last tried in the 1920s.

Last night, MacSharry said Roscommon had now been ''recklessly carved up.'' See link below.

Several North Roscommon towns and villages will now be moved in with Sligo and Donegal for the next Dáil election.

These will include Boyle, Ballyfarnon, Cootehall, Knockvicar and Keadue, famed as Ireland's Tidy Town overall winner in 1993.

Most immediate, it seems likely that the number of TDs and Senators who will go before party conventions locally next time will exceed the number of seats on offer.

Two Fine Gael Senators, Maura Hopkins (Ballaghaderreen) and Frank Feighan, seem possible contenders to vie with deposed Ballymote TD John Perry for a place on the party ticket.

The Government party currently has only one TD in the Sligo, Leitrim, south Donegal and north Roscommon area, Assistant Whip Tony McLoughlin.

Tweeted Welcome

Senator Feighan, a Taoiseach's nominee to the current 25th Seanad and with many property interests in Sligo town, immediately tweeted a welcome the new boundaries last night.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny had been officially allocated West Cavan by his party to make a quota. 

The 36 townlands in West Cavan have now been moved back to their own county and Cavan-Monaghan has gained a seat, too.

Instead, Deputy Kenny will have to return to North Roscommon electors who last saw his name on their October 2014 by election ballot paper.

That by election was caused by the election to the European Parliament of Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.

The two sitting Sligo Fianna Fáil TDs, Marc MacSharry and Eamon Scanlon, have never had personal party structures in the new territory of North Roscommon.

Dumped Ministers

The counties of Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Roscommon, have NEVER been linked before in almost a century of contests for Dáil seats.

Several times in recent decades North Roscommon was lumped in with South Leitrim. 

That area earned a reputation for dumping sitting senior and junior Ministers, including the late Brian Lenihan senior in 1973 and the late Pat Joe Reynolds in 1977.

The late Sean Doherty, then a backbench TD, also came a cropper in North Roscommon in 1989.

A quick glance at the record books suggest that Roscommon voters may be the most ruthless in Ireland, bar none, in ousting sitting TDs over the decades.

Historic Links

However, Sligo town especially and North Roscommon have historic links, inside and outside politics. These include:-

1. Sligo men who signed up to fight with Britain at 'the front' in World War One often did so in Boyle.

Indeed the Bishop of Elphin, Dr Bernard Coyne, put his car at the disposal of enlisters who wished to travel from Sligo to Boyle.

2. This year marks the centenary of the most famous election ever in North Roscommon, one with big Sligo links.

Count Plunkett, father of an executed 1916 signatory, was pushed for the Westminster 1917 by election by famed priest, Fr Michael O'Flanagan.

The ex Summerhill College teacher and former curate at Cliffoney, Fr O'Flanagan 'got out the vote' in the snow of February 1917....and changed the course of Irish history.

3. In further historic links, the Free State Army (FSA) which operated in Sligo during and after the Civil War was quartered in Boyle.

The new constituency announced last night mirrors, broadly, the catchment of Sligo University Hospital and North West Hospice.

That definition also pertained, broadly, in the current constituency 'sprawler' which included all Sligo and Leitrim, with South Donegal and West Cavan.

Family Links

Several noted figures in Irish public life had homes and family links in the North Roscommon area.

These include 1940s All Ireland senior football winner Dr Hugh Gibbons, Cardinal Cathal Daly -- both deceased -- and Dr Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland.

Links: http://www.constituency-commission.ie/report.htm

          Sligo Today 28/6/2017