text (Govt. website)
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Selected Articles below
(Amendments subsequent to 1994 are not shown here.
Some of these deal with Ireland's relationship with the European Union,
and are very important.)
1-3 The Nation
4-11 The State
12-14 The President
15-27 The National Parliament
Constitution and Powers
16-17 Dáil Éireann
18-19 Seanad Éireann
28 The Government
28A Local Government
30 The Attorney General
31-32 The Council of State
33 The Comptroller and Auditor General
34-37 The Courts
38-39 Trial Of Offences
40-44 Fundamental Rights
45 Directive Principles of Social Policy
46 Amendment of the Constitution
47 The Referendum
Repeal of Constitution of Saorstát Éireann and Continuance
Note: For a contemporary treatise on the Irish Constitution and the constitutional boundaries of the European Community, see "Revolt or Revolution" by Diarmuid Rossa Phelan, Round Hall, c 1998, c £57.
The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.
The national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland its islands and territorial seas.
Pending the integration of the national territory,
and without prejudice to the right of the Parliament and Government
established by this Constitution to exercise jurisdiction over the
whole of that territory, the laws enacted by that Parliament shall have
the like area and extent of application as the laws of Saorstát
Éireann and the like extra-territorial effect.
The name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland.
Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic state.
1. All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final ppeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good.
2. These powers of government are exercisable only by or on the authority of the organs of State established by this Constitution.
The national flag is the tricolour of green, white and orange.
1. The Irish language as the national language is the frst official language.
2. The English language is recognised as a second official language.
3. Provision may, however, be made by law for the exclusive use of either of the said languages for any one or more official purposes, either throughout the State or in any part thereof..
(Articles 9 - 11 not reproduced here.
See Official text at www.taoiseach.irlgov.ie)
1. There shall be a President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann), hereinafter called the President, who shall take precedence over all other persons in the State and who shall exercise and perform the powers and functions conferred on the President by this Constitution and by law.
2.1° The President shall be elected by direct vote of the people.
(Sub-articles 2.2 - 3.3 not reproduced here. See Official text at ww.irlgov.ie)
4.1° Every citizen who has reached his thirty-fifth year of age is eligible for election to the office of President.
2° Every candidate for election, not a former or retirinng Presiident, must be nominated either by :
i. Not less than twenty persons, each of whom is at the time a member of one of the Houses of the Oireachtas, or
ii. by the Councils of not less than four administative Counties (including County Boroughs) as defined by law.
(Sub-articles 4.3 - 7 not reproduced here.
See Official text at ww.irlgov.ie)
8. The President shall enter upon his office by taking and subscribing publicly, in the presence of members of both Houses of the Oireachhas, of Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Court, and other public personages, the following declaration:-
"In the presence of Almighty God I
do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will maintain the Constitution of Ireland and uphold its laws, that I will fulfill my duties faithfully and conscientiosly in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and that I will dedicate my abilities to the service and welfareof the people of Ireland. May God direct and assist me."
9. The President shall not leave the State during his term of office save with the consent of the Government.
10 .1° The President may be impeached for stated misbehaviour.
(Sub-articles 10.2 - 11.3 of Article 12
not reproduced here. See Official text at ww.irlgov.ie)
1.1° The President shall, on the nomination of Dáil Éirann, appoint the Taoiseach, that is, the head of the Government or Prime Minister.
(Sub-articles 1.2 - 3.2 of Article 13 not reproduced here. See Official text at ww.irlgov.ie)
4. The supreme command of the Defence Forces is hereby vested in the President.
(Sub-articles 5.1 - 6 of Article 13 not reproduced here. See Official text at www.taoiseach.irlgov.ie)
7.1° The President may, after consultation ith the Council of State, communicate withe the Houses of theOireachtas by messages or address on any matter of national or public importance.
2° The President may, after consultation with the Council of State, address a message to the Nation at any time on any matter.
3° Every such message or address must, however, receive the approval of the Government.
(Sub-article 8 of Article 13 not reproduced here. See Official text at www.taoiseach.irlgov.ie)
9. The powers and functions conferred on the President by this Constitution shall be exercisable and performed by him only on the advice of the Government, save where it is provided by this Constitution that he shall act in his absolute discretion or after consultation with or in relation to the Council of State, or on the advice or nomination of, or in receipt of any other communication from, any other person or body.
(Sub-article 10 -11 of Article 13 not reproduced here. See Official text at www.taoiseach.irlgov.ie)
(Articles 15 - 28 not reproduced here.
See Official text at www.taoiseach.irlgov.ie)
1. Ireland affirms its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality.
2. Ireland affirms its adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination.
3. Ireland accepts the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other States.
4.1° The executive power of the State in or in connection with its external relations shall in accordance with Article 28 of this Constitution be exercised by or on the authority of the Government.
2° For the purpose of the exercise
of any executive function of the State in or in connection with its external
relations, the Government may to such extent and subject to such
conditions, if any, as may be determined by law, avail of or adopt any
organ, instrument, or method of procedure used or adopted for
the like purpose by the members of any group or
league of nations with which the State is or becomes associated for the
purpose of international co-operation in matters of common concern.
3° The State may become a member of the European Coal and Steel Community (established by Treaty signed at Paris on the 18th day of April, 1951), the European Economic Community (established by Treaty signed at Rome on the 25th day of March, 1957) and the European Atomic Energy Community (established by Treaty signed at Rome on the 25th day of March, 1957). The State may ratify the Single European Act (signed on behalf of the Member States of the Communities at Luxembourg on the 17th day of February, 1986, and at the Hague on the 28th day of February, 1986).
4° The State may ratify the Treaty on European Union signed at Maastricht on the 7th day of February, 1992, and may become a member of that Union.
5° The State may ratify the Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related Acts signed at Amsterdam on the 2nd day of October, 1997.
6° The State may exercise the options or discretions provided by or under Articles 1.11, 2.5 and 2.15 of the Treaty referred to in subsection 5¡ of this section and the second and fourth Protocols set out in the said Treaty but any such exercise shall be subject to the prior approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas.
7° No provision of this Constitution
invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State
which are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European
Union or of the Communities, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures
adopted by the European Union or by the Communities or by
institutions thereof, or by bodies competent under the Treaties establishing the Communities, from having the force of law in the State.
8° The State may ratify the Agreement
relating to Community Patents drawn up between the Member States
of the Communities and done at Luxembourg on the 15th day of December,
5.1° Every international agreement to which the State becomes a party shall be laid before Dáil Éireann.
2° The State shall not be bound by any international agreement involving a charge upon public funds unless the terms of the agreement shall have been approved by Dáil Éireann.
3° This section shall not apply to agreements or conventions of a technical and adminstrative character.
6. No international agreement shall be part of the domestic law of the State save as may be determined by the Oireachtas.
7.1° The State may consent to be bound by the British-Irish Agreement done at Belfast on the 10th day of April, 1998, hereinafter called the Agreement.
2° Any institution established by or under the Agreement may exercise the powers and functions thereby conferred on it in respect of all or any part of the island of Ireland notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution conferring a like power or function on any person or any organ of State appointed under or created or established by or under this Constitution. Any power or function conferred on such an institution in relation to the settlement or resolution of disputes or controversies may be in addition to or in substitution for any like power or function conferred by this Constitution on any such person or organ of State as aforesaid.
8. The State may exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction
in accordance with the generally recognised principles of international
1.Justice shall be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by this Constitution, and, save in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law, shall be administered in public.
2.The Courts shall comprise Courts of First Instance and a Court of Final Appeal.
3.1° The Courts of First Instance shall include a High Court invested with full original jurisdiction in and power to determine all matters and questions whether of law or fact, civil or criminal.
2° Save as otherwise provided by this Article,
the jurisdiction of the High Court shall extend to the question
of the validity of any law having regard to the provisions of this
Constitution, and no such question shall be raised (whether by pleading,
argument or otherwise) in any Court established under this or any other
Article of this
Constitution other than the High Court or the Supreme Court.
3° No Court whatever shall have jurisdiction to question the validity of a law, or any provision of a law, the Bill for which shall have been referred to the Supreme Court by the President under Article 26 of this Constitution, or to question the validity of a provision of a law where the corresponding provision in the Bill for such law shall have been referred to the Supreme Court by the President under the said Article 26.
4° The Courts of First Instance shall also include Courts of local and limited jurisdiction with a right of appeal as determined by law.
4.1° The Court of Final Appeal shall be called the Supreme Court.
2° The president of the Supreme Court shall be called the Chief Justice.
3° The Supreme Court shall, with such exceptions and subject to such regulations as may be prescribed by law, have appellate jurisdiction from all decisions of the High Court, and shall also have appellate jurisdiction from such decisions of other courts as may be prescribed by law.
4° No law shall be enacted excepting from the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court cases which involve questions as to the validity of any law having regard to the provisions of this Constitution.
5° The decision of the Supreme Court on a question as to the validity of a law having regard to the provisions of this Constitution shall be pronounced by such one of the judges of that Court as that Court shall direct, and no other opinion on such question, whether assenting or dissenting, shall be pronounced, nor shall the existence of any such other opinion be disclosed.
6° The decision of the Supreme Court shall in all cases be final and conclusive.
5.1° Every person appointed a judge under this Constitution shall make and subscribe the following declaration:
"In the presence
of Almighty God I,
do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my knowledge and power execute the office of Chief Justice (or as the case may be) without fear or favour, affection or ill-will towards any man, and that I will uphold the Constitution and the laws. May God direct and sustain me."
2° This declaration shall be made and subscribed by the Chief Justice in the presence of the President, and by each of the other judges of the Supreme Court, the judges of the High Court and the judges of every other Court in the presence of the Chief Justice or the senior available judge of the Supreme Court in open court.
3° The declaration shall be made and subscribed by every judge before entering upon his duties as such judge, and in any case not later than ten days after the date of his appointment or such later date as may be determined by the President.
4° Any judge who declines or neglects
make such declaration as aforesaid shall be deemed to have vacated his
1.No person shall be tried on any criminal charge save in due course of law.
2.Minor offences may be tried by courts of summary jurisdiction.
3.1° Special courts may be established by law for the trial of offences in cases where it may be determined in accordance with such law that the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice, and the preservation of public peace and order.
2° The constitution, powers, jurisdiction and procedure of such special courts shall be prescribed by law.
4.1° Military tribunals may be established for the trial of offences against military law alleged to have been committed by persons while subject to military law and also to deal with a state of war or armed rebellion.
2° A member of the Defence Forces not on active service shall not be tried by any courtmartial or other military tribunal for an offence cognisable by the civil courts unless such offence is within the jurisdiction of any courtmartial or other military tribunal under any law for the enforcement of military discipline.
5.Save in the case of the trial of offences under section 2, section 3 or section 4 of this Article no person shall be tried on any criminal charge without a jury.
6.The provisions of Articles 34 and 35 of this Constitution
shall not apply to any court or tribunal set up under section 3 or section
4 of this Article.
1.All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law.
This shall not be held to mean that the State shall not in its enactments have due regard to differences of capacity, physical and moral, and of social function.
2.1° Titles of nobility shall not be conferred by the State.
2° No title of nobility or of honour may be accepted by any citizen except with the prior approval of the Government.
3.1° The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen.
2° The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the life, person, good name, and property rights of every citizen.
3° The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right (a).
This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state.
This subsection shall not limit freedom
to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions
as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully
available in another state.
(a) Article 40.3.2 has been interpreted by a majority of
the Supreme Court as follows:
Source: "Green Paper on Abortion" (sic), page 29, published by The Stationery Office, Goverment publication, undated, but probably September 1999. See also Government publication "Fifth Progress Report - Abortion" (sic), The All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution. Note (a) added 28 Oct 2002.
The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.
The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious,
or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance
1.1° The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.
2° The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.
2.1° In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
2° The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.
3.1° The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.
2° A Court designated by law may grant a dissolution of marriage where, but only where, it is satisfied that
i.at the date of the institution of the proceedings, the spouses have lived apart from one another for a period of, or periods amounting to, at least four years during the previous five years,
ii. there is no reasonable prospect of a reconciliation between the spouses,
iii. such provision as the Court considers proper having regard to the circumstances exists or will be made for the spouses, any children of either or both of them and any other person prescribed by law, and
iv.any further conditions prescribed by law are complied with.
3° No person whose marriage has been dissolved
under the civil law of any other State but is a subsisting valid marriage
under the law for the time being in force within the jurisdiction of the
Government and Parliament established by this Constitution shall be capable
of contracting a valid marriage within that jurisdiction during the lifetime
of the other party to the marriage so dissolved.
1.The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children.
2.Parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes or in private schools or in schools recognised or established by the State.
3.1° The State shall not oblige parents in violation of their conscience and lawful preference to send their children to schools established by the State, or to any particular type of school designated by the State.
2° The State shall, however, as guardian of the common good, require in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social.
4.The State shall provide for free primary education and shall endeavour to supplement and give reasonable aid to private and corporate educational initiative, and, when the public good requires it, provide other educational facilities or institutions with due regard, however, for the rights of parents, especially in the matter of religious and moral formation.
5.In exceptional cases, where the parents for physical
or moral reasons fail in their duty towards their children, the
State as guardian of the common good, by appropriate means shall endeavour
to supply the place of the parents, but always
with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.
1.1° The State acknowledges that man, in virtue of his rational being, has the natural right, antecedent to positive law, to the private ownership of external goods.
2° The State accordingly guarantees to pass no law attempting to abolish the right of private ownership or the general right to transfer, bequeath, and inherit property.
2.1° The State recognises, however, that the exercise of the rights mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this Article ought, in civil society, to be regulated by the principles of social justice.
2° The State, accordingly, may as occasion
requires delimit by law the exercise of the said rights with a view
to reconciling their exercise with the exigencies of the
1.The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.
2.1° Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen.
2° The State guarantees not to endow any religion.
3° The State shall not impose any disabilities or make any discrimination on the ground of religious profession, belief or status.
4° Legislation providing State aid for schools shall not discriminate between schools under the management of different religious denominations, nor be such as to affect prejudicially the right of any child to attend a school receiving public money without attending religious instruction at that school.
5° Every religious denomination shall have the right to manage its own affairs, own, acquire and administer property, movable and immovable, and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes.
6° The property of any religious denomination
or any educational institution shall not be diverted save for necessary
works of public utility and on payment of compensation.
5 May 2001,
12 December 2002
E&OE: For official text see www.taoiseach.irlgov.ie.
RequiresAcrobat 4.0. No copies!
Revolt or Revolution - the contitutional
boundaries of the European Community, by Diarmuid Rossa Phelan, Round Hall,