The Irish Parliament, 1613–89

The evolution of colonial institution

Traditional histories of parliament, whether Irish or otherwise, have generally treated them as political events. This book considers the seventeenth-century Irish Parliament as an ongoing element within the state. It considers the role of parliament within the context of an overall state apparatus of governance and charts its development over time. While parliament developed in conjunction with the Irish state, local politicians, and local institutions, it was also a colonial institution, taking direction from Westminster on how to operate. Whether by design or by chance, it resembles the Westminster model of parliamentary procedure, but it also had specifically Irish traits in how it dispatched its business. This book describes a developing institution chiefly through the work that it undertook. Most will be well aware of parliament’s work on legislation and the creation of law and also representation of communities and locations, but it spent large amounts of time hearing petitions and undertaking judicial work. It undertook these ever-increasing responsibilities with a growing group of parliamentary officers, who had a wide variety of powers and responsibilities. Naturally this led to a sophisticated set of procedures and privileges in undertaking this work in order to increase its efficiency and productivity. This book discusses topics and describes processes that are still very much a cornerstone for today’s parliamentary democracy in Ireland and will resonate in Irish institutional culture and elsewhere in the common law world.

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