Recent years have witnessed a revived interest in civic republicanism in Ireland, in tandem with a growing consciousness of republican ideas across the English-speaking world. Yet while republicanism is posited as a catch-all public philosophy and as a framework for political reform in Ireland and elsewhere, its content remains highly ambiguous and contested. Its implications for constitutional structure and constitutional theory are the subject of wide debate in both legal and political thought. In this book, Eoin Daly and Tom Hickey consider republican themes in the Irish constitutional tradition. While the Irish Constitution has been understood as oscillating between a liberal concern for individual freedoms against the state and a communitarian concern for promoting a shared identity, the authors argue that many of its central features and devices can be interpreted in a distinctively republican light – and specifically, as providing a framework for participation in self-government. They consider how institutions and concepts such as popular sovereignty, constitutional rights, parliamentary government and judicial review might be re-interpreted in light of the republican themes of civic virtue and freedom as non-domination.
The Introduction gives an overview of republican ideas in the history of thought and it considers how these apply to constitutional problems. It considers the development of “republican constitutionalism” in various jurisdictions. It then considers the specificity of republicanism in the Irish setting and its possible application in the constitutional-law context.
Chapter one considers how the republican concept of democracy can inform the understanding of popular sovereignty as the central organising principle of the Irish Constitution. It considers various understandings of the constitutional referendum in particular as an exercise of popular sovereignty. While contesting this understanding of the constitutional referendum, it suggests that it can be valued instead as a means of promoting contestation of government power in the area of constitutional change, and as a means of promoting civic participation.
This chapter explores the republican concept of freedom and contrasts this with the liberal view. It outlines how an understanding of freedom as non-domination can inform the definition and scope of constitutional rights. Finally it considers how this understanding is reflected in the Irish context.
This chapter considers how republican ideas inform the constitutional relationship between the executive and the legislature. In particular it explores the republican virtues of the Westminster model of accountable government. However, it also considers the problem of executive dominance that has developed within the Irish version of this model.
This chapter considers how republican ideas inform the debate about the role of courts in reviewing the constitutionality of legislation, and more generally the relationship between judicial and legislative power. It considers republican objections to the powers of constitutional courts. Finally, it considers whether an intermediary model – which emphasises political as well as legal consideration of constitutional rights – might better satisfy the criteria of republican democracy.
This chapter considers how republican ideas can inform theoretical debates about constitutional interpretation. In particular it considers republican arguments against interpretivist and natural-law theories. Finally, it considers the use of republican ideas as sources of constitutional authority in the Irish context.
This chapter considers the importance of civic virtue in the republican history of thought. It explores tensions between civic virtue and individual freedom. It considers how these questions inform the constitutional framework for public education in Ireland.
This chapter considers the treatment of religious issues in republican philosophy. In particular it considers republican justifications for the separation of church and state. It argues that the idea of freedom as non-domination can inform an analysis of Church-State relations in the Irish context.