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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Members of the Ninth Dáil - Patrick Fogarty

Patrick J. Fogarty (died 2 May 1947) was an Irish Fianna Fáil Party politician who served for ten years as a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament).

Fogarty first stood for election to Dáil Éireann at the 1937 general election in the Dublin County constituency, and was returned to the 9th Dáil. He was re-elected at the 1938 and 1943 elections and at the 1944 election.

After his death, the Dublin County by-election for his Dáil seat was held on 29 October 1947, and won by the Clann na Poblachta candidate Seán MacBride.

Members of the Ninth Dáil - Cormac Breslin

Cormac Breslin

Cormac Breslin (Irish: Cormac Ua Breisleán; 25 April 1902 – 23 January 1978) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He was born in Gweedore, County Donegal. He was educated at St. Eunan's College, Letterkenny. He was first elected to the Dáil in 1937 as a Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal West. He was re-elected at every election until his retirement in 1977. He served as Ceann Comhairle (chairman) of Dáil Éireann from 1967 to 1973. He is credited for bringing the Industrial Estate to Gweedore, a source of employment in his local parish. He was survived by his wife, Antoinnette (née Willman) and their nine children.

Members of the Ninth Dáil - John Friel

John Friel (1 August 1889 – 1 October 1963) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and merchant. He was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Donegal East constituency at the 1937 general election. He was re-elected at each subsequent election until he lost his seat at the 1951 general election

Members of the Ninth Dáil - Timothy O'Sullivan

Timothy (Ted) O'Sullivan

Timothy (Ted) O'Sullivan (26 July 1899 – 3 March 1971) was an Irish Fianna Fáil Party politician from West Cork. He was a TD for 27 years, and a Senator for 15 years.

O'Sullivan was elected to Dáil Éireann at his first attempt, as a Fianna Fáil candidate at the 1937 general election for the Cork West constituency, taking his seat in the 9th Dáil.

He was re-elected for Cork West at the next five general elections, until he retired from the Dáil at the 1954 general election.

He was then stood in the 1954 elections to Seanad Éireann, on the Agricultural Panel, and was elected to the 8th Seanad. He was re-elected by the Agricultural Panel at the next three Seanad elections, before retiring from politics in 1969, after completing his term in the 11th Seanad.

His niece Peggy Farrell was a senator from 1969 to 1973.

Members of the Ninth Dáil - Jeremiah Hurley

Jeremiah Hurley

Jeremiah Hurley (died 2 February 1943) was an Irish Labour Party politician. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Labour Party Teachta Dála (TD) for the Cork South–East constituency at the 1937 general election. He was re-elected at the 1938 general election. He died in 1943 during the term of the 10th Dáil but no by-election was held.

Members of the Ninth Dáil - Brook Brasier

Brook Brasier (1 February 1879 – 31 August 1940) was an Irish politician. Brasier stood unsuccessfully for election as a Farmers' Party candidate for the Cork East constituency at the June 1927 and September 1927 general elections. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as an independent Teachta Dála (TD) for the Cork East constituency at the 1932 general election. He lost his seat at the 1933 general election. He was elected as a Fine Gael TD for the Cork South–East constituency at the 1938 general election. He died in 1940 during the 10th Dáil but no by-election was held to fill his seat.

Members of the Ninth Dáil - Con Meaney

(Cornelius) Con Meaney (died 11 September 1970) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and farmer. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1937 general election for the Cork North constituency. He was re-elected at the 1938 general election but lost his seat at the 1943 general election. He was an unsuccessful candidate at the 1944, 1948 and 1951 general elections. He stood for election at the 1961 general election and was elected for the Cork Mid constituency. He retired at the 1965 general election, and his son Thomas Meaney succeeded him as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork Mid.

Members of the Ninth Dáil - Timothy Linehan

Timothy Linehan (4 August 1905 – date of death unknown) was an Irish Fine Gael politician. A solicitor, he was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Cork North constituency at the 1937 general election. He was re-elected at the 1938 and 1943 general elections. He lost his seat at the 1944 general election.

Members of the Ninth Dáil - Thomas Burke

Thomas Burke (died 20 November 1951) was an Irish independent politician. He was born in Dunshallagh, Miltown Malbay, County Clare and was well known in his locality as a bone-setter. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as an independent TD in the 1937 general election for the Clare constituency. He was re-elected on four occasions and served until 1951. He was defeated in the 1951 general election.

Members of the Ninth Dáil - Francis Humphreys

Francis Humphreys (died 19 April 1961) was an Irish Fianna Fáil Party politician who served as a TD for a total of 19 years between 1932 and 1961, winning a seat at seven general elections and losing it three times.

A medical practitioner before entering politics, Humphreys was elected to Dáil Éireann on his first attempt, at the 1932 general election in the Carlow–Kilkenny constituency. He lost his seat at the 1933 election, but in July 1937 he was returned to the 9th Dáil as the last of four candidates to be elected in the new Carlow–Kildare constituency at the 1937 election.

Humphreys was re-elected a three further general elections, in 1938, 1943 and 1944. After further constituency changes he was defeated again at the 1948 general election in the restored Carlow–Kilkenny constituency. At the 1951 election, he was returned to the 14th Dáil, unseating Labour's James Pattison. He lost again to Pattison at the 1954 election, before ousting Pattison again at the 1957 general election.

He died on 19 April 1961, before completing his seventh term in Dáil Éireann. No by-election was held for his seat in the 16th Dáil, which remained vacant until the 1961 general election on 4 October, when he was replaced by Labour's Seamus Pattison, son of his rival James Pattison.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Members of the Ninth Dáil - Matthew Davis

Matthew Davis was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Athlone–Longford constituency at the 1937 general election. He lost his seat at the 1938 general election.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Ninth Dáil

This is a list of the members who were elected to the 9th Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (legislature) of the Irish Free State. These TDs (Members of Parliament) were elected at the 1937 general election on 1 July 1937 and met on 21 July 1937. The 9th Dáil was dissolved on 27 May 1938. The 9th Dáil lasted 351 days. There were no by-elections during the 9th Dáil.

The list of the 138 TDs elected, is given in alphabetical order by constituency.

Members of the 9th Dáil Constituency Name Party

Matthew Davis Fianna Fáil
Seán Mac Eoin Fine Gael
James Victory Fianna Fáil

Thomas Harris Fianna Fáil
Francis Humphreys Fianna Fáil
Sydney Minch Fine Gael
William Norton Labour Party

John Cole Independent
Patrick McGovern Fine Gael
Michael Sheridan Fianna Fáil
Paddy Smith Fianna Fáil

Patrick Burke Fine Gael
Thomas Burke Independent
Éamon de Valera Fianna Fáil
Seán O'Grady Fianna Fáil
Patrick Hogan Labour Party

Cork Borough
Richard Anthony Independent
W. T. Cosgrave Fine Gael
Thomas Dowdall Fianna Fáil
Hugo Flinn Fianna Fáil

Cork North
Patrick Daly Fine Gael
Timothy Linehan Fine Gael
Con Meaney Fianna Fáil
Seán Moylan Fianna Fáil

Cork South East
Brook Brasier Fine Gael
Martin Corry Fianna Fáil
Jeremiah Hurley Labour Party

Cork West
Timothy J. Murphy Labour Party
Timothy O'Donovan Fine Gael
Daniel O'Leary Fine Gael
Eamonn O'Neill Fine Gael
Timothy O'Sullivan Fianna Fáil

Donegal East
Neal Blaney Fianna Fáil
John Friel Fianna Fáil
Daniel McMenamin Fine Gael
James Myles Independent

Donegal West
Brian Brady Fianna Fáil
Cormac Breslin Fianna Fáil
Michael Óg McFadden Fine Gael

Dublin County
Seán Brady Fianna Fáil
Henry Dockrell Fine Gael
Patrick Fogarty Fianna Fáil
Cecil Lavery Fine Gael
Gerrard McGowan Labour Party

Dublin North East
Alfred Byrne Independent
James Larkin Independent
Oscar Traynor Fianna Fáil

Dublin North West
Cormac Breathnach Fianna Fáil
Alfred P. Byrne Independent
Archibald Heron Labour Party
Patrick McGilligan Fine Gael
Seán T. O'Kelly Fianna Fáil

Dublin South
Robert Briscoe Fianna Fáil
Peadar Doyle Fine Gael
Joseph Hannigan Independent
Thomas Kelly Fianna Fáil
Myles Keogh Fine Gael
Thomas Lawlor Labour Party
Seán Lemass Fianna Fáil

Dublin Townships
Ernest Benson Fine Gael
John A. Costello Fine Gael
Seán MacEntee Fianna Fáil

Galway East
Patrick Beegan Fianna Fáil
Seán Broderick Fine Gael
Frank Fahy Ceann Comhairle
Mark Killilea, Snr Fianna Fáil

Galway West
Gerald Bartley Fianna Fáil
Joseph Mongan Fine Gael
Seán Tubridy Fianna Fáil

Kerry North
Stephen Fuller Fianna Fáil
Eamonn Kissane Fianna Fáil
Tom McEllistrim Fianna Fáil
John O'Sullivan Fine Gael

Kerry South
Frederick Crowley Fianna Fáil
John Flynn Fianna Fáil
Fionán Lynch Fine Gael

Denis Gorey Fine Gael
Thomas Derrig Fianna Fáil
James Pattison Labour Party

Stephen Flynn Fianna Fáil
Bernard Maguire Fianna Fáil
Mary Reynolds Fine Gael

Patrick Boland Fianna Fáil
William Davin Labour Party
Jack Finlay Fine Gael
Patrick Gorry Fianna Fáil
Thomas F. O'Higgins Fine Gael

Daniel Bourke Fianna Fáil
George C. Bennett Fine Gael
Michael Colbert Fianna Fáil
Michael Keyes Labour Party
Donnchadh Ó Briain Fianna Fáil
John O'Shaughnessy Fine Gael
Robert Ryan Fianna Fáil

Frank Aiken Fianna Fáil
James Coburn Fine Gael
Laurence Walsh Fianna Fáil

Mayo North
Patrick Browne Fine Gael
John Munnelly Fianna Fáil
P. J. Ruttledge Fianna Fáil

Mayo South
Micheál Clery Fianna Fáil
James FitzGerald-Kenney Fine Gael
Edward Moane Fianna Fáil
Martin Nally Fine Gael
Richard Walsh Fianna Fáil

Charles Fagan Fine Gael
Patrick Giles Fine Gael
James Kelly Fianna Fáil
Michael Kennedy Fianna Fáil
Matthew O'Reilly Fianna Fáil

James Dillon Fine Gael
Eamon Rice Fianna Fáil
Conn Ward Fianna Fáil

Gerald Boland Fianna Fáil
Michael Brennan Fine Gael
Daniel O'Rourke Fianna Fáil

Frank Carty Fianna Fáil
Martin Roddy Fine Gael
Patrick Rogers Fine Gael

Dan Breen Fianna Fáil
Séamus Burke Fine Gael
Andrew Fogarty Fianna Fáil
Daniel Morrissey Fine Gael
William X. O'Brien Labour Party
Martin Ryan Fianna Fáil
Jeremiah Ryan Fine Gael

Patrick Little Fianna Fáil
Michael Morrissey Fianna Fáil
Bridget Redmond Fine Gael
Nicholas Wall Fine Gael

Denis Allen Fianna Fáil
Richard Corish Labour Party
John Esmonde Fine Gael
John Keating Fine Gael
James Ryan Fianna Fáil

James Everett Labour Party
Séamus Moore Fianna Fáil
Dermot O'Mahony Fine Gael

Republic of Ireland Act of 1948

The Republic of Ireland Act 1948 (No. 22 of 1948) is an Act of the Oireachtas (parliament) which declared Ireland to be a republic, and vested in the President of Ireland the power to exercise the executive authority of the state in its external relations, on the advice of the Government of Ireland. The Act was signed into law on 21 December 1948 and came into force on 18 April 1949.

The Act ended the remaining constitutional role of the British monarchy in relation to the state, by repealing the 1936 External Relations Act, which had vested in George VI and his successors those functions which the Act now transferred to the President.

The Republic of Ireland Act is itself quite short, running to just 5 brief sections, and is therefore set out in full as follows:

Number 22 of 1948The Republic of Ireland Act, 1948An Act to repeal the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, to declare that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland, and to enable the President to exercise the executive power or any executive function of the state in or in connection with its external relations. (21 December 1948)Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:—

1.—The Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936 (No. 58 of 1936), is hereby repealed.
2.—It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland.
3.—The President, on the authority and on the advice of the Government, may exercise the executive power or any executive function of the State in or in connection with its external relations.
4.—This Act shall come into operation on such day as the Government may by order appoint.
5.—This Act may be cited as The Republic of Ireland Act, 1948.
— The Republic of Ireland Act

Section 1 of the Act repealed the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act 1936. By doing so the Act abolished the last remaining functions of the King of Ireland, then George VI, in relation to the Irish state. These functions had related to the issuance and acceptance of letters of credence of diplomatic and consular representatives and the conclusion of international agreements. Section 3 provides that the President of Ireland may instead exercise these functions and any other functions in relation to the state's external (or foreign) relations. This effectively upgraded the President to a full head of state.

At the time the Act came into force, a requirement for a country's membership of the British Commonwealth was that the state be a Dominion, where the same monarch was shared as head of state in each country. Thus, after the Act, Ireland had definitively left the Commonwealth. Ireland had not participated actively in the Commonwealth for some years prior to the Act, but was regarded, at least by the other Commonwealth governments, as not having left the Commonwealth.

The London Declaration, which permitted republics to remain within the Commonwealth, was made shortly afterwards in response to India's desire to continue as a member once its new republican constitution was finalised. However, the Irish government opted not to reapply for membership of the Commonwealth, a decision that was criticised by then Leader of the Opposition Éamon de Valera, who considered applying for membership after being returned to power in the 1950s.

Section 2 of the Act quite simply provides:

It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland.

Notably, the Act did not change the official name of the state. It merely provided the description for the State. The Constitution of Ireland provides that Ireland (or Éire in Irish) is the official name of the State and if the Act had purported to change the name, it would have been unconstitutional as it was not a constitutional amendment. The distinction between a description and a name has sometimes caused confusion. The Taoiseach, John A. Costello who introduced the Republic of Ireland Bill in the Oireachtas explained the difference in the following way:

If I say that my name is Costello and that my description is that of senior counsel, I think that will be clear to anybody who wants to know. If the Senator will look at Article 4 of the Constitution she will find that the name of the State is Éire. Section 2 of this Bill declares that “this State shall be described as the Republic of Ireland.” Its name in Irish is Éire and in the English language Ireland. Its description in the English language is “the Republic of Ireland.”.

The United Kingdom responded to the Republic of Ireland Act by enacting the Ireland Act 1949. This Act formally recognised that the Irish state had ceased to be a member of the Commonwealth, but provided that Irish citizens would not be treated as aliens under British nationality law. A provision which, in effect, granted them a status similar to the citizens of Commonwealth countries.

The Act also provided that "the part of Ireland heretofore known as Eire" could be referred to in future UK legislation as the "Republic of Ireland". Between the enactment of the Constitution of Ireland in 1937 and the enactment of the Ireland Act 1949, the United Kingdom had only formally acknowledged "Eire" [sic] as the name of the Irish state. The UK's continued aversion to using "Ireland" as the correct formal name for the state remained a source of diplomatic friction for several decades afterwards.

The UK's Ireland Act also gave a legislative guarantee that Northern Ireland would continue to remain a part of the United Kingdom unless the Parliament of Northern Ireland formally expressed a wish to join a United Ireland; this "unionist veto" proved to be controversial during the Act's passage through Westminster, as well as in the Irish state and amongst Northern Ireland's nationalist community. The guarantee was eventually replaced in 1973 by a new guarantee based on "the consent of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland".

King George VI sent the following message to the President of Ireland, Seán T. O'Kelly, dated April 18, 1949:

I send you my sincere good wishes on this day, being well aware of the neighbourly links which hold the people of the Republic of Ireland in close association with my subjects of the United Kingdom. I hold in most grateful memory the services and sacrifices of the men and women of your country who rendered gallant assistance to our cause in the recent war and who made a notable contribution to our victories. I pray that every blessing may be with you today and in the future. (Signed) GEORGE R.

The Act repealed the External Relations Act, 1936. Under that Act, King George VI as 'King of Ireland' (a king shared with the United Kingdom and other Dominions of the Commonwealth) acted as the Irish head of state in international relations. He accredited ambassadors and on the State's behalf accepted credentials appointing foreign ambassadors to the State. The Republic of Ireland Act removed this role (the last remaining role) from the King and vested it instead in the President of Ireland, making the then President of Ireland, Seán T. O'Kelly, unambiguously the Irish head of state.

In 1945, when asked if he planned to declare a Republic, the then Taoiseach Éamon de Valera had replied, "we are a republic", having refused to say so before for eight years. He also insisted that Ireland had no king, but simply used an external king as an organ in international affairs. However, that was not the view of constitutional lawyers including de Valera's Attorneys-General, whose disagreement with de Valera's interpretation only came to light when the state papers from the 1930s and 1940s were released to historians. Nor was it the view in the international arena, who believed that Ireland did have a king, George VI who had been proclaimed King of Ireland in December 1936, and to whom they accredited ambassadors to Ireland. King George, in turn, as "King of Ireland" accredited all Irish diplomats. All treaties signed by the Irish Taoiseach or Minister for External Affairs were signed in the name of King George.

De Valera had a history of making statements on constitutional matters that were legally questionable. His belief that the Governor-General's post had been abolished by a constitutional amendment in December 1936 was privately rejected by his own Attorney-General, James Geoghegan, Secretary to the Executive Council, by the Parliamentary Draftsman's Office (which drafted legislation) and other leading legal figures in the government. To sort out what was privately seen as a legal mess, de Valera had had to introduce a second enactment, the Executive Powers (Consequential Provisions) Act, 1937, which was backdated as if effective from the original date of the supposed abolition in December 1936. In 1947, de Valera's new Attorney-General, began drafting a bill to grant to the President the powers in international affairs possessed by the King. Part of the debate in government revolved around whether a republic should be declared in the bill. The very existence of the debate is evidence that de Valera's latest attorney-general and part of his cabinet, maybe even de Valera himself, did not agree with de Valera's statement in 1945 that the Irish state was already a republic. In the end, the draft bill was never submitted to the Oireachtas for approval. Whether that is because it was simply abandoned or because de Valera planned to introduce it after the 1948 general election (which he unexpectedly lost) is unclear.

The bill to declare Ireland a republic was introduced in 1948 by the new Taoiseach, John A. Costello of the Fine Gael party. Costello made the announcement that the bill was to be introduced when he was in Ottawa, during an official visit to Canada. It has been suggested that it was a spur of the moment reaction to offence caused by the Governor-General of Canada, Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis who was of Northern Irish descent and who allegedly placed symbols of Northern Ireland, notably a replica of the famous Roaring Meg cannon used in the Siege of Derry, before an affronted Costello at a state dinner. What is certain is that the prior arrangement whereby toasts to the King (symbolising Canada) and the President (representing Ireland) were to be proposed, was broken.Only a toast to the King was proposed, to the fury of the Irish delegation. Shortly afterwards Costello announced the plan to declare the republic.

However, according to all but one of the ministers in Costello's cabinet, the decision to declare a republic had already been made prior to Costello's Canadian visit. Costello's revelation of the decision was because the Sunday Independent (an Irish newspaper) had discovered the fact and was about to "break" the story as an exclusive. Nevertheless one minister, the controversial Noel Browne, gave a different account in his autobiography, Against the Tide. He claimed Costello's announcement was done in a fit of anger of his treatment by the Governor-General and that when he returned, Costello, at an assembly of ministers in his home, offered to resign because of his manufacture of a major government policy initiative on the spot in Canada. Yet according to Browne, all the ministers agreed that they would refuse to accept the resignation and also agreed to manufacture the story of a prior cabinet decision.

The evidence of what really happened remains ambiguous. There is no record of a prior decision to declare a republic before Costello's Canadian trip, among cabinet papers for 1948, which supports Browne's claim. However, in what is generally regarded as one of its most ill-judged decisions, the Costello government refused to allow the Secretary to the Government, Maurice Moynihan, to attend cabinet meetings and take minutes, because they believed he was too close to the opposition leader, Éamon de Valera Rather than entrust the minute-taking to Moynihan, the cabinet entrusted it to a Parliamentary Secretary (junior minister), Liam Cosgrave. Given that Cosgrave had never kept minutes before, it is understandable that Cosgrave's minutes, at least early on in the government, proved less than a thorough record of government decisions. So whether the issue was never raised, was raised but undecided on, was subjected to a decision taken informally, or was subjected to a decision taken formally, remains obscure on the basis of the 1948 cabinet documentation.

In addition, Browne's own book, published in the 1980s, contains certain factual inaccuracies and thus is seen by some to be equally unreliable. The last two surviving ministers of that cabinet in the 1980s, former Minister for External Affairs Seán MacBride and Browne, publicly and trenchantly disagreed with one another as to the events that led to the declaration of the republic. What is certain is that one man's account is wrong. But it has proved impossible to determine which one is wrong.

At any rate, the Act was enacted with all parties voting for it. De Valera did suggest that it would have been better to reserve the declaration of the republic until Irish unity had been achieved, a comment hard to reconcile with his 1945 claim that the Irish state was already a republic. Speaking in Seanad Éireann Costello told senators that as a matter of law, the King was indeed "King of Ireland" and Irish head of state and the President of Ireland was in effect no more than first citizen and a local notable, until the new law came into force.

In 1996, the Constitution Review Group considered amending the Constitution to declare that Ireland is a republic. It decided against recommending such an amendment. This was the second time that such an amendment was considered by committee.

Éamon De Valera's grandson, Éamon Ó Cuív, while a government minister in the 1990s, advocated Irish membership of the Commonwealth.

Constitution of Ireland

The Constitution of Ireland (Irish: Bunreacht na hÉireann, pronounced [ˈbunraxt nə ˈheːrʲən]) is the fundamental law of Ireland. The constitution falls broadly within the tradition of liberal democracy. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy. It guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected non-executive president, a bicameral parliament based on the Westminster System, a separation of powers and judicial review.

It is the second constitution of the state since independence, replacing the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State. It came into force on 29 December 1937 following national plebiscite held on 1 July 1937. The Constitution may be amended solely by a national referendum.

The Constitution of Ireland replaced the Constitution of the Irish Free State which had been in effect since the independence of the Irish state from the United Kingdom on 6 December 1922. There were two main motivations for replacing the constitution in 1937. Firstly, the Statute of Westminster 1931 granted parliamentary autonomy to the six UK Dominions within a Commonwealth of Nations. The Irish Free State constitution of 1922 was, in the eyes of many, associated with the controversial Anglo-Irish Treaty. The largest political group in the anti-treaty faction, who opposed the treaty initially by force of arms, had boycotted the institutions of the new Irish Free State until 1926. In 1932 they were elected into power as the Fianna Fáil party. Since 1932, under the provisions of the Statute, some of the articles of the original Constitution which were required by the Anglo-Irish Treaty, had been dismantled by Acts of parliament. Such amendments had removed references to the Oath of Allegiance, appeals to the United Kingdom's Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the British Crown and the Governor General. The sudden abdication of Edward VIII in December 1936 was quickly used to redefine the royal connection. Nevertheless, the Fianna Fáil government, led by Éamon de Valera, still desired to replace the constitutional document they saw as having been imposed by the UK government in 1922.

The second motive for replacing the original constitution was primarily symbolic. De Valera wanted to put an Irish stamp on the institutions of government, and chose to do this in particular through the use of Irish Gaelic nomenclature.

De Valera personally supervised the writing of the Constitution. It was drafted initially by John Hearne, legal adviser to the Department of External Affairs (now called the Department of Foreign Affairs). It was translated into Irish over a number of drafts by a group headed by Micheál Ó Gríobhtha (assisted by Risteárd Ó Foghludha), who worked in the Irish Department of Education. De Valera served as his own External Affairs Minister, hence the use of the Department's Legal Advisor, with whom he had previously worked closely, as opposed to the Attorney General or someone from the Department of the President of the Executive Council. He also received significant input from John Charles McQuaid, the Archbishop of Dublin, on religious, educational, family and social welfare issues.

There are a number of instances where the texts in English and Irish clash, a potential dilemma which the Constitution resolves by favouring the Irish text.
A draft of the constitution was presented personally to the Vatican for review and comment on two occasions by the Department Head at External Relations, Joseph P. Walsh. Prior to its tabling in Dáil Éireann and presentation to the Irish electorate in a plebiscite, an obfuscatory comment on the final amended draft by Secretary of State Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, the future Holy Father Pius XII responded "We do not approve, neither do we disapprove; We shall maintain silence." The quid pro quo for this indulgence of the Catholic Church's interests in Ireland was the degree of respectability which it conferred on De Valera's formerly denounced republican faction and its reputation as the 'semi-constitutional' political wing of the 'irregular' anti-treaty terrorist minority.

The text of the draft constitution, with minor amendments, was approved on 14 June by Dáil Éireann (then the sole house of parliament, the Senate having been abolished the previous year).

The draft constitution was then put to a plebiscite on 1 July 1937 (the same day as the 1937 general election), when it was passed by a plurality. 56% of voters were in favour, comprising 38.6% of the whole electorate. The constitution formally came into force on 29 December 1937.

Among the groups who opposed the constitution were supporters of Fine Gael and the Labour Party, Unionists, and some independents and feminists. The question put to voters was simply "Do you approve of the Draft Constitution which is the subject of this plebiscite?".

Plebiscite on the Constitution of Ireland
Choice Votes Percentage
Yes 685,105 56.52%
No 526,945 43.48%

Valid votes 1,212,050 90.03%

Invalid or blank votes 134,157 9.97%

Total votes 1,346,207 100.00%

Voter turnout 75.84%

Electorate 1,775,055

At the time the constitution was adopted there was uncertainty over whether its enactment amounted to a 'legal' amendment of the Free State constitution or a violation of its terms. If the enactment of the constitution were considered to be illegal in this way, it could be considered an act of peaceful revolution. De Valera's government insisted that owing to the principle of popular sovereignty, provided it was approved by the people in a plebiscite, it was not necessary for the new constitution be adopted legally under the terms of the old. Nonetheless, in order to avoid a challenge to the new constitution in the courts, senior judges were required to make a formal declaration that they would uphold the new constitution in order to be permitted to remain in office once it had come into force.

When the new constitution was enacted, the British government, according to the New York Times "contented itself with a legalistic protest". Its protest took the form of a communiqué on 30 December 1937 in which the British stated:

"His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom has considered the position created by the new Constitution ... of the Irish Free State, in future to be described under the Constitution as 'Eire' or 'Ireland' ... [and] cannot recognize that the adoption of the name 'Eire' or 'Ireland', or any other provision of those articles [of the Irish constitution], involves any right to territory ... forming part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ... They therefore regard the use of the name 'Eire' or 'Ireland' in this connection as relating only to that area which has hitherto been known as the Irish Free State."

The Irish Government received a message of goodwill from 268 United States congressmen including eight senators. The signatories expressed "their ardent congratulations on the birth of the State of Ireland and the consequent coming into effect of the new constitution", adding that "We regard the adoption of the new constitution and the emergence of the State of Ireland as events of the utmost importance."

The official text of the constitution consists of a Preamble and fifty Articles arranged under sixteen headings. Its overall length is approximately 16,000 words. The headings are:
  1. The Nation (Arts. 1–3)

  2. The State (Arts. 4–11)

  3. The President (Arts. 12–14)

  4. The National Parliament (Arts. 15–27)

  5. The Government (Art. 28)

  6. Local Government (Art. 28A)

  7. International Relations (Art. 29)

  8. The Attorney General (Art. 30)

  9. The Council of State (Arts. 31–32)

  10. The Comptroller and Auditor General (Art. 33)

  11. The Courts (Arts. 34–37)

  12. Trial of Offences (Arts. 38–39)

  13. Fundamental Rights (Arts. 40–44)

  14. Directive Principles of Social Policy (Art. 45)

  15. Amendment of the Constitution (Art. 46)

  16. The Referendum (Art. 47)

  17. Repeal of Constitution of Saorstát Éireann and Continuance of Laws (Arts. 48–50)
The constitution also includes a number of "Transitory Provisions" (Arts. 51-63) which have, in accordance with their terms, been omitted from all official texts since 1941. These provisions are still in force but are now mostly spent.

The Premable of the Constitution of Ireland:

In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of Éire,
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,
Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,
And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,
Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.
  • National sovereignty: The constitution asserts the "inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right" of the Irish people to self-determination (Article 1). The state is declared to be "sovereign, independent, [and] democratic" (Article 5).

  • Popular sovereignty: It is stated that all powers of government "derive, under God, from the people" (Article 6.1). However, it is also stated that those powers "are exercisable only by or on the authority of the organs of State" established by the Constitution (Article 6.2).

  • Name of the state: The Constitution declares that "[the] name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland" (Article 4). Under the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 the term "Republic of Ireland" is the official "description" of the state; as ordinary legislation, however, this has left unaltered "Ireland" as the formal name of the state as defined by the Constitution.

  • United Ireland: Article 2, as substituted after the Good Friday Agreement, asserts that "every person born in the island of Ireland" has the right "to be part of the Irish Nation"; however, Article 9.2 now limits this to persons having at least one parent as an Irish citizen. Article 3 declares that it is the "firm will of the Irish Nation" to bring about a united Ireland, provided that this occurs "only by peaceful means", and only with the express consent of the majority of the people in Northern Ireland.

  • National flag: The national flag is defined as "the tricolour of green, white and orange" (Article 7).

  • Capital city: The Houses of the Oireachtas (parliament) must usually meet in or near Dublin (Article 15.1.3°) ("or in such other place as they may from time to time determine"), and the President's official residence must be in or near the city (Article 12.11.1°).
Article 8 of the Constitution states the following:

1. The Irish language as the national language is the first official language.
2. The English language is recognised as a second official language.
3. Provision may, however, be made by law for the exclusive use of either of the said languages for any one or more official purposes, either throughout the State or in any part thereof.

The Irish text of the Constitution takes precedence over the English text (Articles 25.4.6° and 63). However, the second amendment included changes to the Irish text to align it more closely with the English text, rather than vice versa. The Constitution provides for a number of Irish language terms that are to be used even in English. The old Irish terms Taoiseach and Tánaiste, for the head and deputy head of government, made their first appearance in the 1937 Constitution, whilst the terms Oireachtas, Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann had previously featured in the Free State constitution.

The Constitution establishes a government under a parliamentary system. It provides for a directly elected, largely ceremonial President of Ireland (Article 12), a head of government called the Taoiseach (Article 28), and a national parliament called the Oireachtas (Article 15). The Oireachtas has a dominant directly elected lower house known as Dáil Éireann (Article 16) and an upper house Seanad Éireann (Article 18), which is partly appointed, partly indirectly elected and partly elected by a limited electorate. There is also an independent judiciary headed by the Supreme Court (Article 34).

Under Article 28.3.3° the Constitution grants the state sweeping powers "in time of war or armed rebellion", which may (if so resolved by both Houses of the Oireachtas) include an armed conflict in which the state is not a direct participant. During a national emergency the Oireachtas may pass laws that would otherwise be unconstitutional, and the actions of the executive cannot be found to be ultra vires or unconstitutional provided they at least "purport" to be in pursuance of such a law. However, the constitutional prohibition on the death penalty (Article 15.5.2°), introduced by an amendment made in 2001, is an absolute exception to these powers.

There have been two national emergencies since 1937: an emergency declared in 1940 to cover the threat to national security posed as a consequence of World War II(although the state remained formally neutral throughout that conflict), and an emergency declared in 1976 to deal with the threat to the security of the state posed by the Provisional IRA.

European Union: Under Article 29.4.6° EU law takes precedence over the Constitution if there is a conflict between the two, but only to the extent that such EU law is "necessitated" by Ireland's membership. The Supreme Court has ruled that any EU Treaty that substantially alters the character of the Union must be approved by a constitutional amendment. For this reason separate provisions of Article 29 have permitted the state to ratify the Single European Act, Maastricht Treaty, Amsterdam Treaty, Nice Treaty and Treaty of Lisbon.

International law: Under Article 29.6 international treaties to which the state is a party are not to be considered part of Ireland's domestic law unless the Oireachtas has so provided. Under Article 29.3 it is declared that the state "accepts the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other States", but the High Court has ruled that this provision is merely aspirational, and not enforceable.

As enumerated under the heading "Fundamental Rights"
  • Equality before the law: Equality of all citizens before the law is guaranteed by Article 40.1.

  • Prohibition on titles of nobility: The state may not confer titles of nobility, and no citizen may accept such a title without the permission of the Government (Article 40.2). In practice, governmental approval is usually a formality.

  • Personal rights: The state is bound to protect "the personal rights of the citizen", and in particular to defend "the life, person, good name, and property rights of every citizen" (Article 40.3).

  • Unenumerated rights: The language used in Article 40.3.1° has been interpreted by the courts as implying the existence of unenumerated rights afforded to Irish citizens under natural law. Such rights upheld by the courts have included the right to marital privacy and the right of the unmarried mother to custody of her child.

  • Prohibition of abortion: Abortion is prohibited by Article 40.3.3°, except in cases in which there is a threat to the life of the mother. However, this prohibition may be lawfully circumvented as it is expressly stated not to interfere with the right to travel abroad; there also exists a qualified right to obtain and distribute information of "services lawfully available in another state" (such as abortion).

  • Habeas corpus: The citizen's right to personal liberty is guaranteed by Article 40.4, which section also sets out in detail the procedure for obtaining habeas corpus. However, these rights are specifically excepted from applying to the actions of the Defence Forces during a "state of war or armed rebellion" (Article 40.4.5°). Since the Sixteenth Amendment it has also been constitutional for a court to deny bail to someone charged with a crime where "it is reasonably considered necessary", in order to prevent that person from committing a "serious offence" (Article 40.4.6°).

  • Inviolability of the home: A citizen's home may not be forcibly entered, except as permitted by law (Article 40.5).

  • Freedom of speech: Subject to "public order and morality", a qualified right of freedom of speech is guaranteed by Article 40.6.1°. However, "the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion" (such as the news media) "shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State". Furthermore, "the publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter" is specifically stated to be a criminal offence. In Corway v. Independent Newspapers (1999), the Supreme Court dismissed an attempt to bring a prosecution for blasphemy on the basis that, amongst other things, no coherent definition of the offence was provided by law. Such a definition is now provided by the Defamation Act 2009 which defines it as the publication of matter "grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby [intentionally] causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion".

  • Freedom of peaceful assembly: Subject to "public order and morality", the right of citizens to peaceful assembly "without arms" is guaranteed by Article 40.6.1°. However, the Oireachtas is empowered to limit this right by law when a meeting may be "calculated to cause a breach of the peace or to be a danger or nuisance to the general public"; the Oireachtas is similarly empowered to limit this right in relation to meetings held "in the vicinity" of either House.

    Freedom of association: Subject to "public order and morality", the right of citizens "to form associations and unions" is also guaranteed by Article 40.6.1°; however, the exercise of this right may be regulated by law "in the public interest".

  • Family and home life: Under Article 41.1 the state promises to "protect the Family", and recognises the family as having "inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law". Under Article 41.2 the state is required to ensure that "economic necessity" does not oblige a mother "to engage in labour to the neglect of [her] duties in the home". Article 41.3 sets out conditions that must be fulfilled before a court may grant a divorce, including that adequate financial provision has been made for both spouses and any of their children.

  • Education: Article 42 guarantees parents the right to determine where their children shall be educated (including at home), provided a minimum standard is met. Under the same article the state must provide for free primary level education. Currently Irish law also guarantees free second and third level education.

  • Private property: The right to own and transfer private property is guaranteed by Article 43, subject to "the principles of social justice", and in accordance with laws passed reconciling the right "with the exigencies of the common good" (Article 43).

  • Religious freedom: A citizen's freedom of religious conscience, practice, and worship is guaranteed, "subject to public order and morality", by Article 44.2.1°. The state may not "endow" any religion (Article 44.2.2°), nor discriminate on religious grounds (Article 44.2.3°).
As enumerated under other headings:
  • Prohibition of the death penalty: Since the enactment of the twenty-first amendment, signed into law in 2002, the Oireachtas is prohibited from enacting any law that imposes the death penalty (Article 15.5.2°); this restriction even applies during a time of war or armed rebellion (Article 28.3.3°).

  • Prohibition of ex post facto laws: The Oireachtas may not enact ex post facto criminal laws (Article 15.5.1°).

  • Due process and trial by jury: Trial for any alleged criminal offence may only be "in due course of law" (Article 38.1). All trials for a serious offence of a person not subject to military law must be before a jury (Article 38.5), except where "special courts" have been established by law because "the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice, and the preservation of public peace and order", and except where military tribunals have been established by law "to deal with a state of war or armed rebellion".

  • Sexual discrimination: The sex of an individual cannot be a reason to deny them the right to citizenship (Article 9.1.3°), nor to deny them a vote for (or membership of) Dáil Éireann (Article 16.1).
Irish law currently also forbids discrimination in employment and services (from both the public and private sectors) on grounds of sex (including transsexuals), marital status, family status, sexual orientation, age, disability, race (including nationality), membership of the Traveller community, and lack of religious belief.

Article 45 outlines a number of broad principles of social and economic policy. Its provisions are, however, intended solely "for the general guidance of the Oireachtas", and "shall not be cognisable by any Court under any of the provisions of this Constitution" (preamble to Article 45).

The "Directive Principles of Social Policy" feature little in contemporary parliamentary debates. However, no proposals have yet been made for their repeal or amendment.

The principles require, in summary, that:
  • "justice and charity" must "inform all the institutions of the national life".

  • Everyone has the right to an adequate occupation.

  • The free market and private property must be regulated in the interests of the common good.

  • The state must prevent a destructive concentration of essential commodities in the hands of a few.

  • The state must supplement private industry where necessary.

  • The state should ensure efficiency in private industry and protect the public against economic exploitation.

  • The state must protect the vulnerable, such as orphans and the aged.

  • No one may be forced into an occupation unsuited to their age, sex or strength.
The transitory provisions of the constitution consist of thirteen articles that provide for a smooth transition from the state's pre-existing institutions to the newly established state. Article 51 provides for the transitional amendment of the constitution by ordinary legislation. The remaining twelve deal with such matters as the transition and reconstitution of the executive and legislature, the continuance of the civil service, the entry into office of the first president, the temporary continuance of the courts, and with the continuance of the attorney general, the comptroller and auditor general, the Defence Forces and the police.

Under their own terms the transitory provisions are today omitted from all official texts of the constitution. The provisions required that Article 51 be omitted from 1941 onwards and the remainder from 1938. However, paradoxically, under their own provisions Articles 52 to 63 continue to have the full force of law and so may be considered to remain an integral part of the constitution, even though invisible. This created the anomalous situation that, in 1941, it was deemed necessary, by means of the Second Amendment, to make changes to Article 56 despite the fact that it was no longer a part of the official text.

The precise requirements of the transitory provisions were that Articles 52 to 63 would be omitted from all texts published after the day on which the first president assumed office (this was Douglas Hyde who was inaugurated in 1938) and that Article 51 would be omitted from the third anniversary of this inauguration (1941). Unlike the other articles, Article 51 expressly provides that it would cease to have legal effect once it was removed from the document.

Any part of the Constitution may be amended, but only by referendum.

The procedure for amendment of the Constitution is set out in Article 46. An amendment must first be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, then be submitted to a referendum, and then finally must be signed into law by the President.

Twenty-four amendments have been enacted since the Constitution first came into operation. Controversial amendments have dealt with such topics as abortion, divorce, and the European Union.

The Constitution states that it is the highest law of the land and grants the Supreme Court authority to interpret its provisions, and to strike down the laws of the Oireachtas and activities of the Government it finds to be unconstitutional. Under judicial review the quite broad meaning of certain articles has come to be explored and expanded upon since 1937. The Supreme Court ruled, before their alteration in 1999, that Articles 2 and 3 did not impose a positive obligation upon the state that could be enforced in a court of law. The reference in Article 41 to the family's "imprescriptable rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law" has been interpreted by the Supreme Court as conferring upon spouses a broad right to privacy in marital affairs. In the 1974 case of McGee v. The Attorney General the court invoked this right to strike down laws banning the sale of contraceptives. The court has also issued a controversial interpretation of Article 40.3, which prohibits abortion. In the 1992 case of the Attorney General v. X (more commonly known simply as the "X case") the Supreme Court ruled that the state must permit someone to have an abortion where there is a danger to her life from suicide.

As originally enacted in 1937, Article 2 asserted that "the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas" formed a single "national territory", while Article 3 asserted that the Oireachtas had a right "to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that territory". These articles offended Unionists in Northern Ireland, who considered them tantamount to an illegal extraterritorial claim.

Under the terms of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, Articles 2 and 3 were amended to remove any reference to a "national territory", and to state that a united Ireland should only come about with the consent of majorities in both the jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. The amended Articles also guarantee the people of Northern Ireland the right to be a "part of the Irish Nation", and to Irish citizenship.

The Constitution guarantees freedom of worship, and forbids the state from creating an established church.

Article 44.1 as originally enacted explicitly "recognised" a number of Christian denominations, such as the [Protestant] Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, as well as "the Jewish Congregations"; most controversially of all, it also recognised the "special position" of the Roman Catholic Church. These provisions were removed by the Fifth Amendment in 1973 (see below). Nevertheless the constitution still contains a number of explicit religious references, such as in the preamble, the declaration made by the President, and the remaining text of Article 44.1, which reads:

The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.

The Constitution has also, since 1983, contained a controversial prohibition of abortion. However, this does not apply in cases where there is a threat to the life of the mother (including from risk of suicide) and may not be used to limit the distribution of information about abortion services in other countries or the right of freedom of travel to procure an abortion.

A number of ideas still found in the Constitution reflect the Catholic social teachings current in the 1930s, when the original text was drafted. Such teachings informed the provisions of the (non-binding) Directive Principles of Social Policy, as well as the system of vocational panels used to elect the Senate. The Constitution also grants very broadly worded rights to the institution of the family.

As originally enacted, the Constitution also included a prohibition on divorce. The ban on divorce was not removed until 1996.

Few contemporary commentators argue that the original text of the Constitution would be fully appropriate today. Those that have argued that:
  • incorporating Catholic social teaching into law was common to many predominantly Catholic countries in the 1930s. Divorce, for example was banned in other states such as Italy, which repealed its ban in the 1970s.

  • the reference to the Catholic Church's special position was of no legal effect and there was significance in the fact that the "special position" of Catholicism was held to derive merely from its greater number of adherents, a concept that ran contrary to the Church's view of itself before the Second Vatican Council. Notably, Éamon De Valera resisted pressure from right-wing Catholic groups such as Maria Duce to make Catholicism an established church or to declare it the "one true religion".

  • the prohibition on divorce was supported by senior members of the (Protestant) Church of Ireland.

  • the Constitution's explicit recognition of the Jewish community was progressive in the climate of the 1930s.
The remaining religious provisions of the Constitution, including the wording of the Preamble, remain controversial and widely debated.

The Constitution guarantees women the right to vote and to nationality and citizenship on an equal basis with men. However, it also contains a provision that was objected to by women's organisations at the time of its enactment in 1937. Article 41.2 states:

1° [...] the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
2° The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.

Article 41.2.1° could, however, be viewed in the context of the 1930s, and some point out that it is not coercive and that there is no constitutional obligation for women to stay in the home. Indeed, some have argued that the provision highlights the value of the unremunerated role that women in the home contribute to society.

In 1949, the Irish state abandoned its few remaining constitutional ties with the British monarchy, and it was declared by an Act of the Oireachtas that the term "Republic of Ireland" could be used as a "description" for the Irish state. However, there is debate as to whether or not the state was a republic in the period 1937–1949; between these dates the state was not described in any law as a republic. The current text of the Constitution does not mention the word "republic", but does for example assert that all power is derived, "under God, from the people" (Article 6.1).
Debate largely focuses on the question of whether, before 1949, the head of state was the President of Ireland, or King George VI. The Constitution did not directly refer to the King, but also did not (and still does not) state that the President was head of state. The President exercised most of the usual internal functions of a head of state, such as formally appointing the Government, and promulgating laws.

In 1936, before the enactment of the existing Constitution, George VI had been declared "By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India" and, under the External Relations Act of the same year, it was this King who formally represented the state in its foreign affairs. Treaties, for example, were signed in the name of the King, who also accredited ambassadors and received the letters of credence of foreign diplomats. Representing a state abroad is seen by many scholars as the key characteristic of a head of state. This role meant, in any case, that George VI was the Head of State in the eyes of foreign nations.

However, the removal of the King's constitutional position within Ireland was brought about in 1948 not by any change to the Constitution, but by ordinary law (the Republic of Ireland Act 1948). Since the Irish state was unambiguously a republic after 1949 (when the 1948 Act came into operation), and the same Constitution was in force prior to that time, some have argued that the Irish state was in reality a republic from the Constitution's enactment in 1937.

The constitution begins with words "We, the people of Éire". It then declares, in Article 4, that the name of the state is "Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland". The text of the draft constitution as originally introduced into the Dáil had simply stated that the state was to be called Éire, and that term was used throughout the text of the draftconstitution. However, the English text of the draft constitution was amended during the parliamentary debates to replace "Éire" with "Ireland".

(The only exceptions were the preamble, in which "Éire" is used alone, and Article 4, which was amended so as to refer to both "Éire" and the alternative English language name of "Ireland".) The name of the state was the subject of a long dispute between the British and Irish governments which has since been resolved.

Article 41.1.1° of the Constitution "recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law", and guarantees its protection by the state. However, these rights and protections are not extended to every family unit, such as single parents, unmarried opposite-sex co-habiters, and same-sex couples.

The institution of marriage enjoys a privileged position in the Constitution. A family exclusively based on marriage is envisaged: Article 41.3.1° states that "[t]he State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded". The effect is that non-marital unit members are not entitled to any of the encompassed protections, including those under the realms of tax, inheritance, and social welfare, granted by Article 41. For example, in State (Nicolaou) v. An Bord Uchtála [1966] IR 567, where an unmarried father, who had become estranged from the mother of his child some months after living and caring for the same child together, was prevented from invoking the provisions of Article 41 to halt the mother’s wishes of putting the child up for adoption. The then Mr. Justice Walsh of the Supreme Court stated that "the family referred to in [Article 41 was] the family which is founded on the institution of marriage".

A number of discrepancies have been identified between the Irish and English texts of the Constitution. According to Article 25.5.4° the Irish text prevails in such cases.

Perhaps the most signficant discrepancy between the two texts of the Constitution is to be found in the subsection stipulating the minimum age for a candidate to be eligible for election as President (Art. 12.4.1°). According to the English text, an eligible candidate "has reached his thirty-fifth year of age", whereas the Irish text has this as "ag a bhfuil cúig bliana tríochad slán" ("has completed his thirty-five years"). Because a person's thirty-fifth year of life begins on his or her thirty-fourth birthday, this means there is a one year's difference between the minimum ages as stated in the two texts. Various proposals have been made to amend the Constitution so as to eliminate this discrepancy.

The Constitution has been subjected to a series of formal reviews during the last 40 years or so.
1966The then Taoiseach, Seán Lemass, encouraged the establishment of an informal Oireachtas committee, which undertook a general review of the Constitution and issued a report in 1967.
1968A draft report was produced by a legal committee, chaired by the Attorney General Colm Condon. No final report was published.
1972The Inter-Party Committee on the Implications of Irish Unity addressed constitutional issues in relation to Northern Ireland. Its work was continued by the 1973 All-Party Oireachtas Committee on Irish Relations and later by the 1982 Constitution Review Body, a group of legal experts under the chairmanship of the Attorney General. Neither of the 1972 groups published a report.
1983–1984The New Ireland Forum was established in 1983, and its report in 1984 covered some constitutional issues.
1988The Progressive Democrats published a review entitled Constitution for a New Republic.
1994–1997In October 1994, the government established a Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, which considered some constitutional issues relating to Northern Ireland. The Forum suspended its work in February 1996 but met once more in December 1997.
The Constitution Review Group was an expert group established by the government in 1995, and chaired by Dr T.K. Whitaker. Its 700-page report, published in July 1996, has been described as "the most thorough analysis of the Constitution from the legal, political science, administrative, social and economic perspectives ever made".
The first All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution was set up in 1996.

All-Party Oireachtas Committee
The All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution was established in 1996.

First committeeThe first All-Party Committee (1996–97), chaired by Fine Gael TD Jim O'Keeffe, published two progress reports in 1997:
  • 1st Progress Report, 1997

  • 2nd Progress Report, 1997
Second committeeThe Second All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution (1997–2002) was chaired by Fianna Fáil TD Brian Lenihan. It published five progress reports:
  • 3rd Progress Report: The President, 1998

  • 4th Progress Report: the courts and judiciary, 1999

  • 5th Progress Report: abortion, 2000

  • 6th Progress Report: the referendum, 2001

  • 7th Progress Report: Parliament, 2002
The second committee also published two commissioned works:
  1. A new electoral system for Ireland?, by Michael Laver (1998)

  2. Bunreacht na hÉireann: a study of the Irish text, by Micheál Ó Cearúil (1999)
Third committeeThe current (2002) committee is chaired by Fianna Fáil TD Denis O'Donovan. It describes its task as being to "complete the programme of constitutional amendments begun by the earlier committees, aimed at renewing the Constitution in all its parts, for implementation over a number of years". It describes the job as "unprecedented", noting that "no other state with the referendum as its sole mechanism for constitutional change has set itself so ambitious an objective".

The committee has divided its work into considering three types of amendment:
  • technical/editorial: changes in form but not in substance, for example changing "he" to "he or she" where it is clear that a provision in the Constitution applies to both men and women.

  • non-contentious: changes in substance generally agreeable to the people, for example describing the President as Head of State.

  • contentious: changes in substance which of their nature divide people, for example changes in the character and scope of human rights.
The current All-Party Committee has published three reports:
  1. 8th Progress Report: Government, 2003

  2. 9th Progress Report: Private Property, 2004

  3. 10th Progress Report: The Family, 2006
The committee summarises its remaining tasks as being to consider:
  • fundamental rights (apart from the right to life and property rights, which have already been considered)

  • Article 45 (Directive Principles of Social Policy)

  • a miscellany ranging from the Preamble, the name of the state, the position of the Irish language, to the transitory provisions.

Members of the Eighth Dáil - Denis Allen

Denis Allen (2 January 1896 – 29 March 1961) was an Irish Fianna Fáil party and long-serving Teachta Dála (TD) for the Wexford constituency.

Allen was an unsuccessful candidate at the June 1927 general election, but later that year in the September 1927 general election he was elected to the 6th Dáil. He was re-elected at the 1932 general election, but lost his seat at the 1933 general election.

He returned to the 8th Dáil in a by-election on 17 August 1936, following the death of the Cumann na nGaedheal TD Osmond Esmonde, and returned at each successive election until he retired from politics in 1961.

Larne gun-running

Loyalist mural Island Street-Belfast

Mural of the Larne gun-running in Donaghadee

Larne Harbour from Inver

SS Clyde Valley

Major Crawford with arms dealer, Benny Spiro, March 1914

The Larne gun-running was a major gun smuggling operation organised in Ireland by Major Frederick H. Crawford and Captain Wilfrid Spender for the Ulster Unionist Council to equip the Ulster Volunteer Force. The operation involved the smuggling of almost twenty-five thousand rifles and three million rounds of ammunition from Germany, with the shipments landing in Larne, Donaghadee, and Bangor in the early hours between Friday 24 and Saturday 25 April 1914. The Larne gun-running may have been the first time in history motor-vehicles had been used "on a large scale for a military-purpose, and with striking success".

In November 1910 the Ulster Unionist Council formed a secret committee to oversee the creation of an army in Ulster to fight against the imposition of Home Rule. It approached Major Frederick Crawford to act as its agent to purchase the guns needed to equip such an army. Major Crawford wrote to five arms manufacturers including the Austrian Steyr and the German Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken, seeking quotations for the purchase of twenty thousand rifles and a million rounds of ammunition.

In January 1913, the Ulster Unionist Council instituted the Ulster Volunteer Force consisting of people who had signed the Ulster Covenant. This was an attempt to co-ordinate the paramilitary activities of Ulster’s unionists, as well as to give real military backing to the threats of the Ulster Covenant in resisting the implementation of the Third Home Rule Bill introduced on 11 April 1912 by then Prime Minister H. H. Asquith. These threats had been regarded as a "gigantic game of bluff and blackmail" by Irish nationalist leader John Redmond as well as most Liberal MPs including Winston Churchill. UVF membership grew to around 90,000 members, led by retired officers of the British army, with the organisation under the charge of Lieutenant-General Sir George Richardson KCB, a veteran of the Afghan Wars. By 1913 the UVF had over £1 million pledged to it, and £70,000 invested in attempts to import arms.

Throughout 1913 Major Crawford, with the use of aliases and disguises, had attempted to smuggle in arms bought in Britain and Imperial Germany, however these attempts failed when vigilant customs officials seized the goods at the docks. In one instance patrol boats thwarted a gun-running attempt to Carrigart in northern County Donegal carried out by Lord Leitrim.

Major Crawford however would convince the Ulster Unionist Council that he could provide the weapons and ammunition needed "to equip the entire UVF". Thus the stage was set for what would become known as the Larne gun-running, with Edward Carson in response proclaiming;

I'll see you through this business, if I should have to go to prison for it.

Crawford secured the services of the SS Fanny to transport 216 tons of guns and ammunition he had purchased from Benny Spiro, an arms dealer in Hamburg. Included in this cache was; 11,000 M1904 Mannlicher rifles brought from the Steyr works in Austria; 9,000 ex-German army M1888 Commission Rifles; 4,600 Italian Vetterli-Vitali rifles; and 5 million rounds of ammunition in clips of five — much of which was transported from Hamburg via the Kiel Canal.

On 30 March 1914, these weapons were being loaded onto the SS Fanny on the Baltic island of Langeland when Danish customs officials seized the papers of the ship. The customs officials suspected that the cargo might contain weapons to arm militant Icelandic home rulers who sought independence from Denmark, however the SS Fanny managed to escape into a gale and sailed outside of Danish territorial waters. On 1 April, The Times newspaper had correctly claimed that the guns were destined for Ulster rather than Iceland.

In a bid to evade the authorities as the SS Fanny neared Ireland, Major Crawford purchased the SS Clyde Valley in Glasgow. On 19–20 April off Tuskar Rock, County Wexford, the entire cache of weapons was transported from the SS Fanny onto the SS Clyde Valley. On 24 April, the SS Clyde Valley was renamed the "Mountjoy II", with the use of 6-foot-long (1.8 m) strips of canvas painted with white letters on a black background. This was a direct reference to the Mountjoy that broke the boom across the River Foyle during the Siege of Derry in 1689, which gave it a historic symbolism for unionists.

Back in Ulster on the same date, the UVF were given instructions for a full test-mobilisation. The UVF Motor Corps was summoned by the County Antrim commander, General Sir William Adair, and given the following instructions:

It is absolutely necessary that your cars should arrive at Larne in the night of Friday-Saturday 24th-25th instant at 1 a.m. punctually but not before that hour for a very secret and important duty...
This was all part of a "meticulous" and "elaborate" plan to ensure that the operation succeeded with only 12 people knowing the real details of, and reasons for, it; with the mobilisation of the UVF members still officially only a "test mobilisation".

Captain F. Hall, the military secretary to the UVF had recorded details of these plans in a memorandum. It included details of the tapping of the private telephone line connecting Hollywood Barracks to Exchange, as well as the short-circuiting of phone and telegraph wires into Larne after the last train, and the "shorting" of the main rail lines.

On the date of the landings, members of the UVF are stated as having manned pickets and patrols along the length of the coast road between Belfast and Larne, as well as the roads leading to the towns of Ballyclare, Ballymena, and Glenarm amongst others. The men at these pickets were to give directions to any who needed them and were provided with reserve supplies of petrol and tools for repairing any vehicle that had problems. In Larne itself, UVF members wearing armlets stood "in line silent as soldiers on parade", and manned cordons that blocked the roads preventing vehicles without a special permit being able to enter or depart Larne.

Captain James Craig would take command of the operations in Bangor, with Adair taking command in Larne. The commander of the UVF, Sir George Richardson, would remain in Belfast on the night of the landings and was kept fully informed of proceedings by dispatch-riders.

On the arranged date that the UVF Motor Corps had been given for their "test" operation, a decoy ship, the tramp steamer SS Balmerino, was intentionally dispatched into Belfast Lough so that the authorities would investigate it for smuggled armaments in what the UVF leadership called the Hoax.

The Hoax involved a large truck waiting at the Belfast docks in an intentional bid to make it appear as if it was awaiting an incoming load. The captain of the SS Balmerino ensured that by making his ship's approach as suspicious as possible, the authorities would be alerted. Once the ship was docked, the captain set about stalling the authorities for as long as possible with excuses, which further convinced the authorities that they had intercepted the real cargo. Eventually the authorities searched the ship's contents and discovered that its papers were in order and that it was only carrying coal.

Whilst this was happening, twenty miles away the "Mountjoy II" brought the real arms cache into Larne harbour unhindered. After the "Mountjoy II" docked a motor-boat sailed up alongside and cranes transported "thousands" of rifles to it. After it had sailed away a second vessel sailed up to take away more arms. These vessels would transport their loads to Donaghadee.

As the weapons were unloaded onto the motor vehicles, each batch was counted and its destination noted by counting clerks. Due to the volume of weapons, temporary arms-dumps had been set up in the surrounding districts so that the vehicles could return as quickly as possible to receive another load. The Belfast Evening Telegraph remarked that all present "put their backs into it" and that it "illustrated the old adage, 'One Volunteer is worth three pressed men'" and they "toiled like galley slaves". The local population of Larne were noted as having lined the streets exchanging salutes and running make-shift canteens to supply the workers with refreshments throughout the night.

At 5 am the ship set sail from Larne harbour for Bangor to unload the rest of its cargo. Three cheers for "The King" and three more for "the Volunteers" were let out by the ships skipper and its crew as they stood to attention, with the cheers allegedly reciprocated by all those ashore.

By 7:30 am the "Mountjoy II" had completed its mission, and a course was set for the River Clyde to confuse any coast-guards. On its way, the canvas sheets that bore the name Mountjoy II were cut, revealing the ship's real name, and it then proceeded down the Irish sea. After offloading Major Crawford at Rosslare, County Wexford, the SS Clyde Valley set sail for the Baltic sea, travelling along the coasts of France and Denmark. Here it would rendezvous with the SS Fanny to bring back the Ulstermen contingent of its crew. Once this had been done, the SS Fanny was disposed of at Hamburg.

One of the key figures in the operation was Captain Wilfred Spender, a member of the UVF headquarters staff who is credited with having been responsible for originally drawing up the scheme and helped in the Hoax masquerade. His wife recorded details of the landing itself in her diary for the dates 24–25 April:

... The whole proceedings are almost incredible, and nothing but the most
perfect organisation, combined with the most perfect and loyal co-operation on the part of all concerned, could have carried it through without a single case of bloodshed...
The Belfast Evening Telegraph would report on April 25 that:

...There was no rush or bustle in the doing of it. It was accomplished with
celerity, yet without fuss or splutter, because it was done in pursuance of a well-formed plan, executed as perfectly as it had been preconceived... So exactly had this mobilisation been arranged that these hundreds of motors reached the assembly point at an identical moment. It was an amazing sight to see this huge procession of cars nearly three miles in length descending upon the town with all their headlights ablaze....
For the Unionist leaders the Larne gun-running was in the end more of a political coup than a military feat. This was primarily due to the fact the Ulster Volunteers remained inadequately armed as the weapons shipment contained three different types of weapon along with a lack of proper ammunition for them. Combined with the many other much smaller weapons purchases, acquisitions amounted to just over 37,000 rifles in the hands of the Ulster Volunteers by June 1914.

The Larne gun-running also returned the gun to the centre of Irish politics. It also increased Irish nationalist suspicions, already aroused by the Curragh Incident of the previous month, that the authorities were acquiescent towards unionist militants in Ulster. After the events in Larne, the nationalist Irish Volunteers, which had been formed in late 1913 in response to the formation of the UVF, saw its membership soar.

The UVF's weapons and ammunitions were requested by the government on the outbreak of the First World War. By 1916 the ammunition had largely been transferred, but none of the rifles. In 1920 after the outbreak of the Irish war of Independence the rifles were used to arm the new Ulster Special Constabulary that was formed up (by the same Wilfrid Spender), and the USC was largely recruited from former Ulster Volunteers. In 1940 the rifles were released to arm the British Home Guard after the Battle of France. They were first fired in anger during the East African Campaign of 1940-41, arming the militias of Haile Selassie I.

The Irish Volunteers themselves would import a boat-load of arms in the Howth gun-running of July 1914. The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP), aided by troops of the 2nd King's Own Scottish Borderers, tried—unsuccessfully—to confiscate the weapons. On their return to their barracks in Dublin, some troops baited by a hostile crowd, killed three people and wounded 38. The contrast between the inactivity of the police and military in Larne and the heavy-handed response in Dublin further convinced nationalists of official bias in favour of the UVF. The whole episode saw Ireland draw closer to the brink of civil war. The Howth rifles were used in the 1916 Dublin Easter Rising.

The events of the Larne gun-running and the voyages of the SS Fanny and SS Clyde Valley are remembered in the loyalist songs; "Gunrunners" and "Gallant Clyde Valley".