Amendments To The Constitution of Ireland - Procedure - Historical Methods

Historical Methods

The Constitution has also been amended by two other means. The Constitution provided that, for an initial period of four years, from 1937 to 1941, it could be amended by a simple Act of the Oireachtas without a referendum. The First and Second Amendments were adopted in this way. However, as a safeguard to prevent wholesale changes after it had been approved by the people, the President of Ireland, was given the right to decline to sign a Bill amending the constitution until the amendment had been voted on by the people if he believed that the amendment materially changed the whole Constitution. However, the President in office, Douglas Hyde, did not refer any amendment directly to the people, but instead chose to sign the first two amendments directly into law. The Constitution stated that this power, along with the Oireachtas's power to amend the Constitution without automatic reference to the people, automatically lapsed three years after the entry into office of the first President.

Since the third anniversary of President Hyde's election, in 1941, every amendment has had to follow the pattern of passage through the Oireachtas followed by a public referendum. One partial exception to this, however, involved the changes made to Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution in 1999. The Nineteenth Amendment, adopted by referendum in May, 1998, did not itself amend those articles, but rather introduced a temporary special mechanism by which the Government could order their amendment once it was satisfied that certain commitments made by other parties to the Belfast Agreement had been complied with.

Read more about this topic:  Amendments To The Constitution Of Ireland, Procedure

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