Opposition TDs have accused the Government of "gerrymandering" and cutting "side deals" in redrawing local area constituencies.

Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae accused the Government of "gerrymandering" local electoral boundaries, while Fianna Fáil's Shane Cassells claimed that the Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, was cutting side deals. 

During Order of Business, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin was first to raise the issue.

He said he had heard in the media that it was intended to bring proposals to Government on the re-organisation of local electoral boundaries.

He asked what was decided by Government and whether there will be a restoration of town government.

Mr Phelan said the issue was not discussed at Cabinet this morning.

He said there is a report on a review of local government to do with metropolitan government, urban government and electoral areas, which is due at the end of next week.

Mr Healy-Rae said there has been a lot talk in recent days about the review of the local authority boundaries and "the gerrymandering that is about to take place."

He asked the Taoiseach to "explain how one of the councillors in Kerry has already said that the boundary review is sorted out in Kerry and a place like Castleisland is taken out of the Killarney electoral area. How is he able to know that it? Gerrymandering I think."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar replied, "I can assure the deputy there will be no gerrymandering and the boundaries will be drawn by an independent boundary commission just as they have for many decades now. The issue that has yet to be decided of course is the terms of reference of the boundary commission."

Mr Cassells asked the Taoiseach "if he supports Minister John Paul Phelan in promising to certain county managers the return of borough councils, in what appears to be side deals ahead of the open and transparent publication [of the report]."

He claimed that Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd said three times on LMFM local radio yesterday that Mr Phelan had met with the Louth County manager and the Mayor of Drogheda and promised them both that Drogheda Borough Town Council would be reinstated."

The Taoiseach said that a lot of people were getting ahead of themselves, saying the Government  "are nowhere near making decisions on  these things."