This book challenges the myths surrounding the Irish Free Constitution by analysing the document in its context, by looking at how the Constitution was drafted and elucidating the true nature of the document. It examines the reasons why the Constitution did not function as anticipated and investigates whether the failures of the document can be attributed to errors of judgment in the drafting process or to subsequent events and treatment of the document. As well as giving a comprehensive account of the drafting stages and an analysis of the three alternative drafts for the first time, the book considers the intellectual influences behind the Constitution and the central themes of the document. This work constitutes a new look at this historic document through a legal lens and the analysis benefits from the advantage of hindsight as well as the archival material now available. Given the fact that the current Constitution substantially reproduces much of the 1922 text, the work will be of interest to modern constitutional scholars as well as legal historians and anyone with an interest in the period surrounding the creation of the Irish State.
This chapter is concerned with the work of the committee; it explains the role played by each member as well as the nature of the meetings. The freedom of the committee is considered in relation to the instructions given them by Collins and Griffith. The preliminary structure of the constitution and the early discussions are examined.
This chapter goes beyond any existing scholarship by providing, for the first time, a detailed consideration of the three original drafts of the constitution. While these drafts were published in the 1970s, they have never been examined or analysed in detail. Here the three documents are considered in depth under a number of headings and their provisions are compared and contrasted.
This chapter examines the negotiations with the British government on the draft which was brought to London. It considers the approaches of both sides as well as their differing interpretations and the manner in which agreement was eventually reached. The impact of these discussions on the final constitution is explored.
This chapter provides a comprehensive examination of the debates on the constitution in the constituent assembly. The tenor of the debates is considered and the major controversies are discussed and examined. The finished document is then reflected upon.
This chapter examines some of the principles influences behind the 1922 document, in particular the influence of the Gaelic State and various foreign constitutions. The impact of these influences on various themes within the constitution is then explored.
This chapter focuses on the fact that the constitution was intended to be a document for the people. The sovereign and democratic nature of the document is considered as well as various devices included in the constitution to reinforce that theme. Various constitutional provisions are examined in practice and the reasons for their removal are analysed.
This chapter explores the theme of anti-party politics in the Irish Free State Constitution and the various devices included in the constitution to prevent the advent of a party-focused political system in Ireland. PR-STV, the external ministers scheme, functional representation and the Seanad are all examined. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the failure of this theme