What is a constitution and why would a country have one? Coakley and Gallagher (2010:72) state that “Constitutions are important in liberal democracies. They lay down the ground rules about how political power is attained and how it can be exercised, about what governments can and cannot do, and they also set out rights of the citizens”. The Irish Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) came into effect on 29th of December 1937. It was drafted by Éamon de Valera and Micheál Ó Gríobhtha. The document is vastly influenced by the Catholic Church. Bunreacht Na hÉireann contains 50 Articles ranging from The Government (Article 12, Constitution of Ireland) to The Family (Article 41, Constitution of Ireland). For any change to occur to the Constitution there has to be a referendum in which every citizen over eighteen is entitled to a vote. Currently there have been thirty proposals and twenty-one amendments. The latest amendment concerned the rights of Irish children. Garner et al (2009: 188) report that “Only three states- the UK, New Zealand, and Israel-now do not have a specific constitution. The last twenty years have seen an enormous surge of constitution-writing around the world. At least eighty-one states introduced new constitutions, while a further thirty-three carried out major constitutional reform”. From this it appears Bunreacht na hÉireann is out-of-date. Indeed there has been call for change since the 1970s. Furthermore the first review group has been set up since 1996. This group called the constitutional convention consists of one hundred members, sixty-six citizens, thirty-three parliamentarians and an independent chairman. The constitutional convention is to complete their work in twelve months. The constitutional convention state “It is now generally accepted that given the many changes that have taken place in Irish society in more recent years, the time is now right to look at certain aspects of the Constitution and consider further amendments...
Bibliography: Bunreacht na hÉireann – Constitution of Ireland (1937), Dublin: Government Publications, Stationery Office.
Coakley, J. and Gallagher, M. (2010) ‘POLITICS IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND’ (5th edition), NewYork: Routhledge.
Finer, S E. Bogdanor, V. and Rudden, B. (1995) ‘Comparing Constitutions’, New York: Oxford University Press.
Garner, R. Ferdinand, P. and Lawson, S. (2009), ‘Introduction to Politics’, New York: Oxford University Press.
Pullella, Philip.(2005) ‘Group against abortion praised by Pope’, The Irish Times, 17 November,p.13.
United States Constitution: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html.
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