It asserts the national sovereignty of the Irish people. The constitution falls broadly within the tradition of liberal democracy being based on a system of representative democracy. It guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected constitution full text pdf-executive president, a bicameral parliament based on the Westminster system, a separation of powers and judicial review. It is the second constitution of the Irish state since independence, replacing the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State.
It came into force on 29 December 1937 following a statewide plebiscite held on 1 July 1937. The Constitution may be amended solely by a national referendum.
The Constitution of Ireland replaced the Constitution of the Irish Free State which had been in effect since the independence, as a dominion, of the Irish state from the United Kingdom on 6 December 1922. There were two main motivations for replacing the constitution in 1937. This had the effect of making the dominions sovereign nations in their own right.
The Irish Free State constitution of 1922 was, in the eyes of many, associated with the controversial Anglo-Irish Treaty. The anti-treaty faction, who opposed the treaty initially by force of arms, was so opposed to the institutions of the new Irish Free State that it initially took an abstentionist line toward them, boycotting them altogether. However, the largest element of this faction became convinced that abstentionism could not be maintained forever. This element, led by Éamon de Valera, formed the Fianna Fáil party in 1926, which entered into government following the 1932 general election.
After 1932, under the provisions of the Statute of Westminster, some of the articles of the original Constitution which were required by the Anglo-Irish Treaty were dismantled by acts of the Oireachtas of the Irish Free State. Such amendments removed references to the Oath of Allegiance, appeals to the United Kingdom’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the British Crown and the Governor-General. The sudden abdication of Edward VIII in December 1936 was quickly used to redefine the Royal connection. Nevertheless, the Fianna Fáil government still desired to replace the constitutional document they saw as having been imposed by the British government in 1922.
The second motive for replacing the original constitution was primarily symbolic. De Valera wanted to put an Irish stamp on the institutions of government, and chose to do this in particular through the use of Irish Gaelic nomenclature. De Valera personally supervised the writing of the Constitution.
De Valera served as his own External Affairs Minister, hence the use of the Department’s Legal Advisor, with whom he had previously worked closely, as opposed to the Attorney General or someone from the Department of the President of the Executive Council. He also received significant input from The Rt Rev.