Repeal the 8th, Activism, Social Movement, and Constitutional Change in Ireland

by Fiona De Londras, Professor of Global Legal Studies, Deputy Head of Birmingham Law School

The Irish Constitution can only be formally amended by referendum (Art. 46). Unlike in some jurisdictions, however, there is no formal mechanism for popular initiative: ultimately only the Oireachtas [Parliament] can propose a referendum, and the exact wording of the proposition put to the People ordinarily comes from the Attorney General. What the current developments in respect of the 8th Amendment and its potential repeal show, however, is that constitutional change in Ireland is not necessarily a technocratic, elite discourse: it can be, and in this case is being, driven by a social demand for change.

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Referenda: like the egg that was excellent in parts*

by David Gwynn Morgan.

At first sight, who could possibly be against a referendum of all the citizens, as a means of taking the major decisions affecting the polity. A sort of precursor of this institution comes trailing clouds of glory from the Golden Age of Athenian Democracy, when all 100,000 of, at any rate, the free males assembled in the stadium to debate and vote on major collective decisions affecting the polis. And at the present day, the notion of the referendum chimes well with such notions as: citizen participation in government, ‘civil society’, distrust of ‘professional politicians’.

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Growing importance of impartial Constitutional Officers

by David Gwynn Morgan

For too many generations, Western (or Western-dominated) Law Schools have taught the Separation of Powers, in its classic Greek polis -originated form, not forgetting to mention Montesquieu (and be sure to get the spelling right ). The trouble with the Separation of Powers is that it originated for a form of government entirely different from the modern administrative state.

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