The Electoral Commission will have to carry out a “fresh review”, if Ireland is allocated an additional seat ahead of next year’s European elections.

The Electoral Commission has just published a review of Dáil and European Parliament constituencies this week.

It includes recommendations to the Oireachtas on the make-up of Ireland’s electoral constituencies for the next national and European elections.

But the report could not state exactly what would happen if Ireland is allocated an additional MEP.

Currently, Ireland has 13 members of the European Parliament.

A European parliamentary report earlier this year called for that number to be increased to 14 ahead of the 2024 elections.

But a change in the number of seats must be approved by EU governments and that process has not yet been completed.

It is understood the Electoral Commission was legally obliged to complete its review before the end of the summer and could not wait for a decision to be made in Brussels.

Fine Gael MEP, Colm Markey, has expressed frustration over the uncertainty

“It is ridiculous to think that the [Electoral] Commission cannot even consider the measure, subject to the changes being officially approved. Given the EU election is just 9 months away, this issue should have been made a priority.”

Ireland’s political parties and independents are waiting to find out where an extra seat would be allocated.

At the last European election in 2019, Ireland was divided into three constituencies: Dublin (4 seats), Midlands-North-West (4 seats) and Ireland South (5 seats).

It will be up to the Electoral Commission to decide where to place the extra seat, if it is allocated by the EU.

“Should a decision be made to allocate an additional seat, An Coimisiún will embark on a fresh review of the European Parliament Constituencies in the autumn, including a further short period of public consultation”, Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Marie Baker, wrote.

This week’s report acknowledges that an increase from 13 to 14 is “likely”.

Under the Electoral Reform Act 2022, the Commission is responsible for “the constituencies for the election of members of the European Parliament.”

The report does, however, set out some of the key parameters the Commission would use if an additional seat is assigned to Ireland:

“There shall be reasonable equality of representation as between constituencies….Each constituency shall return 3, 4 or 5 members…There shall be regard to geographic considerations including significant physical features and the extent of and the density of population in each constituency…”