John O'Donovan (politician)

John O'Donovan (1908 – 17 May 1982) was an Irish politician.[1] He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South-East constituency at the 1954 general election.[2] On his first day in the Dáil, O'Donovan was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Government.

He lost his seat at the 1957 general election, but was elected to Seanad Éireann by the Cultural and Educational Panel, where he served until 1961.[1] He was unsuccessful candidate at the 1961 and 1965 general elections. Following the 1969 general election O'Donovan returned to the Dáil as a Labour Party deputy for Dublin South-Central. O'Donovan lost his seat again at the 1973 general election.

Supreme Court case

O'Donovan challenged the Electoral Amendment Act 1959, which had been passed by a previous Fianna Fáil government, on the basis that there were "grave inequalities" with "no relevant circumstances to justify" them.[3] In O'Donovan v. Attorney-General (1961), the Supreme Court held that the Act was unconstitutional and suggested that the ratio of representation to population across constituencies should differ by no more than 5%. The court, interpreting the "so far as it is practicable" condition of the Constitution, suggested a 5% variation as the limit without exceptional circumstances.[4]


  1. "John O'Donovan". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  2. "John O'Donovan". Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  3. Coakley, John. "Constituency boundary revision and seat redistribution in the Irish parliamentary tradition" (PDF). Administration. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration. 28 (3): 305–7.
  4. "O'Donovan v Attorney General". Irish Reports: 114. 1961.
Political offices
Preceded by
Jack Lynch
Parliamentary Secretary to the Government
Succeeded by
Office abolished
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