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Coleman A. Dennehy

The two constituent parts of parliament were generally self-regulating in their behaviour. With the exception of statute law that did stipulate certain ways for parliament to behave, the Commons and the Lords organised the way they undertook their business and how their members should conduct themselves. This meant that parliamentary privilege for the member and the liberties of each house were jealously guarded. These were certain rights to avoid arrest, to be free from civil actions, and also for the house to dominate certain areas, for example appellate oversight of other courts or finance. The author convincingly asserts that while privilege could well be the domain of the petty and self-interested, its fundamental purpose was to preserve the individual roles and promote their smooth running.

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Coleman A. Dennehy

Petitioning, either as a general call for favour and assistance, or as the opening salvo in a legal action, was a common process in the Irish Parliament and there is strong evidence that it took up a considerable amount of time, frequently much more than legislation did. This chapter considers both the theory and practice of petitioning. It discusses how and why it happened, the methodology and materials of the process, the role of counsel, officers, and members. It also provides the statistical evidence of how the system worked and to what extent certain petitioners and types of petitions were more successful than others.

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Coleman A. Dennehy

In a book that deals with procedure and focuses a little less on MPs and politics than other works, a chapter on the officers and servants of parliament brings light onto this sometimes forgotten corner of parliament. While nobody could fail to acknowledge the importance of the speaker of either house, this book brings a sharp concentration of the very important roles of the judges and other legal officers, on the all-important clerk and his juniors, and on the lesser officers of parliament. It discusses the role of the officers, their responsibilities, and the capacity for influence on political and other developments in parliament. It also describes the payment and other rewards they received for their work.

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Making law

Mills and acts

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Coleman A. Dennehy

The passing of legislation was of great importance to both government and community in early modern Ireland. It frequently was the mechanism by which grievances were addressed and also how finance was secured. This chapter considers the relevance of legislation and also the relevance of Poynings’ Law to the passage of legislation in Ireland. It also considers the relative importance of the creation of statute law in the Irish legal system. This chapter takes the reader through the various stages of legislation in the Irish Parliament, an area that has been relatively ignored when compared with the focus of studies on Poynings’ Law.

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The Irish Parliament, 1613–89

The evolution of colonial institution

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Coleman A. Dennehy

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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Coleman A. Dennehy

Initially, this chapter discusses the position of the Irish Parliament within early modern Irish historiography and whether it has served Irish institutional history well. This is followed by a consideration of the development of parliamentary history in England, and whether there is a potential usefulness of applying such a historiographical model to Ireland. It also considers how an institutional history of the Irish Parliament might be written and to what extent this can be achieved, considering to what extent the relevant source material is available to us. The day-to-day records of the two houses, the parliamentary journals, are discussed in great detail – their original purpose and to what extent they might direct such an institutional study.

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Coleman A. Dennehy

This chapter reiterates the main points of the book. Essentially, it confirms that while the Irish Parliament clearly was a colonial assembly in its origins and in its development, there is also a clear line of development that is more local and more organic than might first meet the eye. It brings together the many strands of the book to make some strong concluding statements about the nature of the institution and its place within the kingdom, its constitution, and the institutional history of Ireland.

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Towards an understanding of marital violence

Causes, definitions, and interpretations, 1922–65

Cara Diver

This chapter considers how contemporaries understood marital violence, asking what forms it took and when it became unacceptably cruel. It argues that women in post-independence Ireland extended their definition of marital violence beyond the parameters of physical beatings to include verbal, psychological, sexual and economic abuse. Additionally, this chapter explores the short-term causes of marital violence. Episodes of violence often began as domestic conflicts between husbands and wives. Recurring sources of marital conflict included concerns about money or the management of economic resources, sexual jealousy, disagreements about family and children, disputes over faith and religion, and failure to meet gendered expectations of marriage.

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Cara Diver

This chapter explores reforms to marital violence policy and legislation from 1970 to 1996. During this period, feminist activists brought pressure to bear upon the government, who for the first time acknowledged the problem of marital violence and took action against it. From the 1970s onwards, the Oireachtas passed a number of legislative reforms, for which feminist groups had campaigned, that offered protection to victims of marital violence. By 1996, an abused wife could have her abuser barred from the family home, acquire a protection order or safety order to deter further abuse, charge a sexually abusive spouse with marital rape, and permanently sever her bond with her abuser through divorce. Additionally, the Gardaí gained increased powers of arrest in domestic violence cases, and state agencies developed a more nuanced and effective public policy approach to the issue of violence within the home.

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Cara Diver

Marital violence in post-independence Ireland, 1922–96 represents the first comprehensive history of marital violence in modern Ireland, from the founding of the Irish Free State in 1922 to the passage of the Domestic Violence Act and the legalisation of divorce in 1996. Based upon extensive research of under-used court records, this groundbreaking study sheds light on the attitudes, practices and laws surrounding marital violence in twentieth-century Ireland. While many men beat their wives with impunity throughout this period, victims of marital violence had little refuge for at least fifty years after independence. During a time when most abused wives remained locked in violent marriages, this book explores the ways in which men, women and children responded to marital violence. It raises important questions about women’s status within marriage and society, the nature of family life and the changing ideals and lived realities of the modern marital experience in Ireland.