Search results

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.

9 The legacy of the Irish Free State Constitution Introduction Opinions diverge on the success of the Irish Free State Constitution. While some highlight positively the liberal democratic nature and experimental features of the Constitution,1 others concentrate on the number of amendments and the short lifespan of the document. The most extreme criticism is that the Constitution was ‘a deeply flawed project which ended in almost total failure’.2 However, that the 1937 Constitution retained and reused most of its predecessor is a testament to the earlier

in Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution
Abstract only

.  4 A.E. Malone, ‘Party Government in the Irish Free State’ (1929) 44 (3) Political Science Quarterly 363.  5 That independent thought was not tolerated is also evident from O’Brien’s statement  1  2 120 Anti-party politics Committee members had suffered during the days when the Irish Nationalist Party dominated, ‘they knew that a strong party organisation meant the inevitable suppression of independent political opinion, and they knew that in its earlier stages certainly the Irish Free State would require more than anything else freedom of political thought

in Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution
Abstract only

Introduction The modern Irish state was born in 1922 with the promulgation of the Irish Free State Constitution. It was at this moment that many aspects of our legal and political system were created. This momentous but relatively unexplored moment of Ireland’s constitutional history has been overshadowed in popular memory by the 1916 Rising, the convocation of the first Dáil in 1919 and specifically by the present Irish Constitution of 1937. These topics have been written about extensively, and recent scholarship has shed light on the circumstances in which the

in Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution
Abstract only

inclusion of British symbols. The Irish were forced to accept these controversial provisions under threat of war and, while it was recognised that they were largely symbolic, the inclusion of these elements was nevertheless a feature in the spiral to Civil War. However, while the Draft now contained many theoretical superfluities, included in order to make the Draft look more like that of 1 Michael Collins, The Path to Freedom (Dublin, 1922), 19. 181 Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution a Dominion, it had still managed to retain much of its inspiration and the

in Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution

of liberty came, overflowed and in the result transformed the constitutional framework which was to have shaped it.2 Before moving on to examine in detail the central aspects of popular sovereignty, democracy and anti-party politics, which together form a leitmotif which runs through the Constitution, it will be useful to consider first some influences and themes which are identifiable throughout the original drafts and the final document. While there is no evidence to suggest that members of the Constitution Nicholas Mansergh, The Irish Free State: Its

in Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution

an Irish state run by the Irish people would solve many problems. For this and many other reasons, the 1922 document was an attempt to create a sovereign, democratic Constitution for the people. Sovereignty Popular sovereignty In the UK, it is the ‘Crown in Parliament’ which is sovereign. This is a fundamental doctrine of UK constitutional law and it means that Parliament is ‘the Dáil Debates, vol 1, col 1908, 25 October 1922 (Kevin O’Higgins).  1 97 Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution supreme legal authority in the UK, which can create or end any law

in Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution

difficulties, Collins met with de Valera in order to negotiate a compromise. The result of these discussions was the Collins–de Valera Pact which was announced on 20 May 1922. Among the provisions of the Pact were that existing pro- and anti-Treaty Dáil representation would provide the basis for candidates (i.e. Sinn Féin would put forward a panel of candidates – 68 Thomas Mohr, The Irish Free State and the Legal Implications of Dominion Status (Unpublished PhD Thesis, University College Dublin, 2007), 36.  2 During the negotiations, Griffith told Churchill that the

in Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution

commitments, he attended only one further meeting and so, guided by his instructions, Letter from James Douglas to L. Hollingsworth Wood, 9 March 1922, in Brian Farrell, ‘The Drafting of the Irish Free State Constitution II’ (1970) 5 Irish Jurist 343, 347.  1 3 Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution the ­committee worked otherwise independently. Because of the magnitude of their task, it was of the utmost importance that the Committee, chosen by Collins and Arthur Griffith, should comprise accomplished, intelligent, politically neutral members.2 The Committee was

in Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution

whose funds were needed to maintain the economy.  1 65 Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution The aftermath of the election When the Draft was finally agreed upon in London, it was published in the morning papers of 16 June, which was the day of the Irish general election. The Provisional Government was criticised for its failure to publish the Draft at an earlier stage but, as Mohr points out: The reality was that publication was impossible until the deliberations of the London conference on the draft Irish Constitution had been completed. These negotiations

in Drafting the Irish Free State Constitution