Directive Principles of Social Policy

Article 45

Official Literal English translation

Article 45


It is as a general guide for the Oireachtas that the basic rules for a societal policy that are laid out in this Article were intended. The responsibility for applying those basic rules in making laws will be on the Oireachtas alone, and a question concerning that application cannot be tried by any Court under any one of the provisions of this Constitution

45.1 The State will do its utmost to advance the welfare of all the people through ensuring and preserving as far as it is able a societal order, in which justice and charity will rule every institution which relates to the national life.

45.2 The State will, specifically, direct its policy in a way that will ensure:-
45.2.i That the citizens (and all of them, both men and women, have a right to a sufficient livelihood) will obtain, through their occupations, the means of making reasonable provision for the needs of their households.

45.2.ii That (the) proprietary right and control of (the) worldly wealth of the people will be divided among private persons and among the various classes in the way that will best contribute towards the welfare of the people.

45.2.3 Specifically, that the operation of free competition will not be allowed to advance in a way that there would result from it that a small number of people had in their own hands the ownership or the control of essential goods to the detriment of the community.

45.2.iv That the welfare of the whole community is the permanent and principal objective which will govern in all that concerns the control of credit.

45.2.v That as many households as possible in accordance with the circumstances of life will be established on the land in economic security.

45.3.1 The State will look eagerly at private initiative in industrial and commercial affairs and will augment/support it when that is necessary.

45.3.2 The State will endeavour to ensure that private enterprise is / will be conducted so that it is certain that goods will be produced and distributed with reasonable competency and that the community will be protected from unjust profit.

45.4.1 The State takes upon itself specifically to protect the economic welfare of the classes in the community whose power is least and, when it will be necessary, to give subsistence help to the infirm, to the widow, to the orphan and to the old.

45.4.2 The State will endeavour to ensure that the strength and health of workers, both men and women, nor the tender youth of children will not be wronged, and that citizens will not have to, because of want, take up occupations that do not suit their kind or their age or their strength.

Note: Article 45 of An Bunreacht 1937 safeguards livelihoods for men and women

Points to Consider:

Article 45 contains directions for the Oireachtas which has responsibility for the application of justice, social policy and economic security for the nation.

"45.2.iv That the welfare of the whole community is the permanent and principal objective which will govern in all that concerns the control of credit."

The Oireachtas has a responsibility to provide a balance between commercial interests and the fair and equitable recompense to people for their efforts.

They have both committed to support private enterprise.

This includes areas where citizens through their occupations have the right to earn a sufficient livelihood.

In 45.2.3 While the aim of the State is to nurture private industry, there are directions to protect the people from large organisations or NGOs having undue controls / monopolies / cartels which would cause a negative impact on the supply of essential services/goods to people. These might include such industries as energy, banking or health, for example.

This article gives the Oireachtas powers to claim our assets for the public good (common good). It might be advisable to men and women to consider trusts or vehicles to safeguard private assets.

 social policy explained by the citizen's manual

Social policy explained by the citizen's manual:

IV. THE SOCIAL POLICY OF THE STATE. Q. What directive principles does the Constitution lay down for the general guidance of the Legislature? A. The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the whole people by securing and protecting a social order in which justice and charity shall inform all the institutions of the national life : In particular, the aims of the social policy shall be :—(I) To secure for the citizens (all of whom, men and women equally, have the t ight to adequate means of livelihood) the means of providing through their occupa-tions for their domestic needs ; (2) To have ownership and control of material resources so distributed as best to subserve the common good ; (3) To prevent the concentration of such owner-ship and control in a few individuals to the common detriment ; (4) To keep the welfare of the people as a whole as the constant and predominant aim in relation to the control of credit ; (5) To establish on the land in economic security as many families as practicable ; (6) To require reasonable efficiency in private enterprise and protect the public against unjust exploita-tion ; and (7) To safeguard with especial care the economic interests of the weaker sections of the community, and ensure that the strength and health of workers and the tender age of children shall not be abused, and that Citizens shall not be forced by economic necessity into walks of life unsuited to their sex, age or strength. (ART. 45•)