About An Bunreacht 1937

About Bunreacht Na hÉireann 1937

The Irish Constitution is the fundamental law of Éire. It asserts the national sovereignty of the Irish people. The constitution, based on a system of representative democracy, is broadly within the tradition of liberal democracy.

Its the second constitution of the Irish State since independence, replacing the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State. It came into force on 29th December 1937 following a state-wide plebiscite held on 1 July 1937. The Constitution may be amended solely by a national referendum. It is the longest continually operating republican constitution within the European Union.

While there have been twenty six amendments to this document so far, there is a query over them as they have assumed that the first amendment redefining "wartime" stands even though it could be argued that this amendment is "repugnant" to the Constitution. There is a requirement for amendments to be written in our native language / text, and most have not met this criteria. It cannot be emphasised enough:

"The question whether it is the destiny of the Irish Constitution
to be more than a piece of paper, depends not on the nobility
of it's contents, but on the watchfulness of the Irish people."

Fundamental Rights in the Irish Law and Constitution by J.M Kelly

This website primarily refers to "JM Kelly The Irish Constitution", An Bunreacht 1937 and to the Oireachtas-commissioned literal translation of the "1999 Blue Book" constitution. One of the reasons that this study of the Irish text was commissioned was because of the number of queries on and challenges to the original translation. While it would have been preferable to be able to refer to a literal translation of the 1937 constitution, none exists as yet. There is still huge value in comparing these two translations, especially in those articles which have not been amended. This website gives a synapsis of some key articles and their particular importance to the Irish nation, especially in the present times. It is recommended that you do not accept anything written in any website blindly, but rather take this gift of An Bunreacht 1937 that your forefathers fought for and gave to future generations. While this well-framed document could not have predicted all of the conditions in the modern world, it has catered very well for many of them. Some of the proposed upcoming amendments may have far-reaching effects beyond what is obvious and it would be valuable for each of us to take the time to research the implications of each proposed amendment before you vote on it, and surrender any of your rights, in the name of what is likely to be presented as progress or inclusion.

A Study of the Irish text by Micheál Ó Cearúil, an official literal translation

This study of the Irish text was commissioned by THE ALL-PARTY OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION and resulted in a literal English translation of BUNREACHT NA hÉIREANN 1999

Mícheál Mac Aonghusa commented "Micheál Ó Cearúil has produced an impressive scholarly work analysing the Irish text of Bunreacht na hÉireann, word for word, detailing the history of the terminology. In an remarkable number of cases he traces terms back to Old Irish (ninth century and earlier) or Middle Irish (c. 900-1200)"

"To the delight or chagrin of lawyers, the divergences have proved to be crucial on a number of occasions since 1938. As early as 1945 James Dillon warned: ‘some are praying to God that the ambiguities in the Irish phrases of the Constitution will not be invoked by some wily individual who will go into the court on foot of the Irish text and reject the English.’"

Click here to read Mícheál Mac Aonghusa's full review of the extensive translation "Bunreacht Na hÉireann A study of the Irish text" by Micheal Ó Cearúil

Foreword and extract from "Bunreacht Na hÉireann A Study of the Irish Text"

Foreword by Brian Lenihan TD
comments on a study of the Irish text