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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I thank all 18 Members who raised issues on the Order of Business. Senator Catherine Ardagh referred to the CSO figures. I think we addressed this topic yesterday, but it is important to understand concern has been expressed about the CSO figures for growth and how they have been compiled. The CSO has accepted that there might be a need to look at how it measures and presents them. The fundamental underlying point is that, as a country, we are beginning to emerge into a better space. Employment is increasing and unemployment is on the way down, which means that there are more people back at work. Consumer spending is increasing and there is a feel good factor in the economy. The Taoiseach and the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform have said the Government will not use the figures presented yesterday in the budgetary forecasts and budget preparations. It is important that we be sensible. We all agree that the figures need to reflect the real position rather than a transient or one-off situation. Senator Rose Conway-Walsh also asked yesterday for this issue to be discussed.
Senators Catherine Ardagh, Diarmuid Wilson, James Reilly, Gerry Horkan and Tim Lombard referred to the preliminary census figures. I congratulate the CSO on its presentation this morning and thank it for the timely publication of the figures which show that there are 4,757,976 persons in the country, an increase of 3.7% since 2011. Members rightly referred to the boundary review commission, which is to be established subsequent to the publication of the figures. It will present an opportunity for the Government to reflect on the size of the population and the numbers of public representatives. I hope the commission will be given sensible terms of reference and that it will be equally sensible in the presentation of its findings. Senator James Reilly spoke about gerrymandering, which is sometimes the wrong word to use. What we saw the last time with regard to members of the commission was a mismatch of everything. Many in this House were affected, but we will not get into that row again. I hope we will have a boundary review commission, see an increase in the numbers in the Dáil and boundaries that will be reflective of community and county boundaries. I thank Senators Diarmuid Wilson and James Reilly for raising the issue of the division of Cavan. As somebody who was affected the last time, I hope the issue in Cork will also be addressed.