There will be an extra seat in the Midlands-North-West Constituency in next June’s European Parliament Elections following the recommendation of An Coimisiún Toghcháin.
The number of seats in the constituency will increase from four to five after the counties of Laois and Offaly are transferred from South to Midland-North-West.
The total number of MEPs increases from 13 to 14 under the changes which follow a European Council decision last September to allocate an extra MEP to Ireland.
Already, Senators Niall Blaney and Lisa Chambers have expressed an interest in running in these elections.
The commission’s recommendations come after a month-long public consultation with submissions received from political parties, elected representatives and interested individuals.
The change meets the statutory requirements that there should be reasonable equality of representation between constituencies.
Chair of An Coimisiún Toghcháin, the Electoral Commission, Supreme Court Judge, Ms. Justice Marie Baker said: “Our recommendation is to allocate this additional seat to the Midlands-North-West constituency, making it a five-seater and bringing in the counties of Offaly and Laois into that constituency from the South. The Dublin constituency remains unchanged.
Political parties are set to have all their candidates selected for the European Parliament elections by January.
It is expected that Sinn Féin will run two candidates in each constituency.
There is strong speculation in Fianna Fáil that Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen will seek to become a candidate in the expanded Midlands-North-West constituency.
Two Fine Gael MEPs, Frances Fitzgerald and Deirdre Clune have announced that they will not contest the elections next year.