Democracy, as in democratic representation is a trade off between satisfying the infinite spectrum of political faction and foible vs achieving a government that can actually get governing without horse-trading every goddam article in every berluddy bill with a bunch of crotchety old men [still mostly men] who are grand-standing for the basest elements of their political base. Party politics developed in the 18thC to shift the balance towards governability from representation. The Blob has touched on outrageous examples of malapportionment - technical term for gerrymandering - particularly in the [red parts of] USA. Similar manipulation of boundaries in favour of the incumbent Irish government used to be de rigeur up until a spectacular back-fire of a cunning plan by Minister Jimmy Tully Lab. in the 70s. Thereafter, the boundaries and seat count [N = 3, 4 or 5] of constituencies were decided by an independent Constituency Commission composed of a Judge, The Clerk of the Dáil, The Clerk of the Senead, the Ombudsman, The Senior civil servant in the appointing Ministry - currently the Department of the Housing, Planning, Community and Local Governmen.
But even these boundary commissions are in a state of change and in February 2023, under yet newer legislation The Electoral Commission / An Coimisiún Toghcháin was established to cogitate on the matter and deliver a report in September. The primary data go into the boundary hopper is the preliminary head-count compiled by the CSO Central Statistical Office / An Príomh-Oifige Staidrimh from the last census. This our Republic has just, for the first time since 1841, topped 5 million residents. As the Constitution specifies that each member of the Dáil shall represent between 20,000 and 30,000 people, this puts limits on how the cake will be sliced. If they play high-representation then (5,149,139 / 20,000) would allow / require 257 TDs - up from the current 160. In contrast to the UK parliament which has bench seating fit to accommodate only about 2/3 of the MPs, TDs get their own seat. And, again in contrast to the UK Parliament in its periwigs and morning suits, each seat has electronic voting buttons. The sitting N = 160 Dáil looks like this. There are physically 168 seats.
Another 97 seats, built wider to fit 21stC bottoms, might be the end of sitting in Leinster House. I doubt our legislature is ready to shift to a modern building nearer the centre of the country: say, Up King's County!!
Soooo, the Electoral commission has been briefed to find a number between 171 [constitutional minimum] and 181 to play with, as a constraint on finding a fair apportionment of reps across the country. The commission has seven members: as well as a Supreme Court Judge Marie Baker, the Ombudsman, The Clerk of the Dáil; there are 4 'ordinary members', two of them women.
Larger parties prefer more, inherently less democratic, 3-seater constituencies. The quota for a 1-in-3 seat is 25% of the valid votes cast which is a high bar for a local-local [preserve our A&E department] or single-policy [free food for elders] candidate to surmount. That means the third seat is more likely to fall to Fine Gael FG or Fianna Fáil FF . . . or Sinn Féin SF if they continue their irruption into mainstream politics. In a 5-seater, the quota is an achievable 17%. Ireland wants / tolerates a rather high proportion [~30/160] of independents / crazies / PBP-Solidarity / Aontú.
With rather less trepidation than actual sitting TDs, I'm looking forward to seeing what the Electoral Commission comes up with. Not least because sitting on such a quango is a job for The Establishment, everyone expects a lot of inertia / conservatism in the seat assignments / constituency boundaries. Carlow and Kilkenny have been neighbours and a single Carlow-Kilkenny constituency for all my life. It is remarkable how tribal it gets: most folk would rather vote within their county than within their party. And on the reg'lar in CW-KK, 3/5 of the seats are occupied by residents of the larger county which has 3/5 the population of the constituency.