The political theory of the Irish Constitution

Republicanism and the basic law

Authors: Eoin Daly and Tom Hickey

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.

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‘This book deserves to attract a wide range of readers including political scientists, constitutional lawyers and historians.The issues identified are relevant far beyond the Irish context, a reality underscored by the decision to open chapters by placing the relevant issues in an international and wider historical and philosophical context. Irish readers will be particularly grateful for this book's contribution to reclaiming the word 'republicanism' from men in balaclavas and restoring it to its proper context.'
Thomas Mohr, School of Law, University College Dublin, Ireland
Parliaments, Estates and Representation
April 2016

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