Does this need to be in the Irish Constitution?

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As I mentioned earlier today, the Twenty Eight Amendent to the Constitution Bill 2009 was published today. IrishElection has the full text of the amendment but I have a query to the proposed new Article 29.4.4 of Bunreacht na hEireann.

It reads as follows:

Ireland affirms its commitment to the European Union within  which the member states of that Union work together to promote peace, shared values and the well-being of their peoples.

Really does it have a point? It refers to no treaty or protocol. It’s something that should be in a preamble in my mind.

I seriously doubt those words will have any effect what so ever considering the preceding subsection states that we are members of the European Union.

Will it swing any voters? I doubt. So why include it? In a document such as our Constitution?

Anyone care to enlighten me?

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Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for SpirtualityIreland.org and UCC Express.

8 thoughts on “Does this need to be in the Irish Constitution?”

  1. “No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State, before, on or after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, that are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union…”

    I’m not sure what exactly that means yet, but I can make one prediction. It will be spun by the No argument as saying that Lisbon is the last referendum, and will allow the Dáil to enact laws, do acts and adopt measures to give effect to future treaties without further reference to the will of the people.

    1. That the is the same wording as last time out Gerard. Last time out it was the propsed section 29.4.11. What i said then is same as now:

      This article gives constitutional backing to the Supremcy of EU law which has been laid down by the European Court of Justice in the case Flaminio Costa v. ENEL [1964]. This is what we signed up to in 1973, so is no surprise that it is being given constitutional backing

      The full post is here: So what will we be voting on come June?

  2. To a certain degree the Constitution is intended as a statement of values and as such contains quite a few, essentially non-justicable, statements like this. For example

    Article 2:

    “…Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.”

    Article 28A.1:

    “The State recognises the role of local government in providing a forum for the democratic representation of local communities…”

    Article 29.1:

    “Ireland affirms its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality.”

    Article 44.1:

    “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.”

    Given the importance of the European Union, I think it would be desirable to say that bit more about Ireland-EU relations in the Constitution.

    1. Micheal, A fair point about the other statements in the Constitution, but none of them refer to an outside organisation which this does and as it mentions membership means that duties apply. Govt could use this to slip things through.

      I agree with you that it could say more. This amendment is shorter then the last one!

  3. I’m not really sure if these words say anything much more than they appear to say. Twenty years ago in Crotty v. An Taoiseach, the Supreme Court held that the Single European Act, as an amendment to the Treaty of Rome could not be considered as legislation “necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Communities” given that the State was not bound to ratify it. I can’t see why a bland statement about Ireland’s “commitment” to the EU changes anything. It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Constitution has referred to the “obligations of membership” since 1972. Why would “commitment” be any different?

    Now that I think about it maybe the Government want to emphasise the peace promotion aspects of EU membership against the threatened militarisation many eurosceptics talk about — hence the new sub-section.

    1. Hmm, the militariasation arguement is a good point. I didn’t think about that.

      Commitment could be construed as something different by the courst perhaps?? That is what I am afraid of.

  4. I’ve wondered if this rather vague commitment might have implications for the need for future referenda on EU treaties. Previous statements have given permission to become an EU member or ratify a treaty. This is the first positive statement of commitment to the EU in our constitution, a definite qualitative change. It’s likely it won’t have any future effects. But I’ve also a nagging feeling that it might.

    1. ohh good point Finbar! Its cause of issues like that I am not 100% comfortable with the wording of the amendment.

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