From Eoin Daly (posted by Jane Suiter)
2012 marks the 75th anniversary of our Constitution. The present Government has committed to establishing a “constitutional convention” this year, as part of its political reform agenda and on foot of the Programme for Government. However, the convention will serve essentially as an advisory group, constituted of citizens and elected representatives. Moreover, its remit looks set to be surprisingly limited, focusing on a handful of issues including blasphemy law and the duration of the presidential term. Disappointingly, it appears that it will not address crucial issues such as executive dominance, or the codification and strengthening of constitutional rights in key areas. Insofar as the convention embraces the idea of citizen participation – and accordingly, of lending a degree of popular legitimacy to the reform process – the risk is that this participative dimension will be heavily managed and directed in advance by removing certain key issues from discussion.
To mark the Constitution’s anniversary, and to coincide with the constitutional convention which is set to be held later this year, Human Rights in Ireland will host a “shadow constitutional convention” – a series of short essays on ideas for constitutional reform. Beginning later this spring and running over the remainder of 2012, this series will also include reflections on the Constitution, and the process and challenge of constitutional reform more generally. We will run essays on ideas for constitutional reform in particular areas, as well as broader observations on constitutional revision as an instrument of social and political change.
Bearing in mind the limited remit of the Government’s proposed project, we propose to address a broad range of constitutional questions within a variety of different perspectives. We hope that at least in some small way, this will help to contribute to public discourse on the Constitution as a blueprint for our democracy. We envisage that this project will be broad and inclusive, and that the conversation it generates will extend well beyond lawyers. We hope it will facilitate discussion on broader themes of democracy, sovereignty, national identity, equality and republicanism. Accordingly, while we have already invited contributions from a number of figures, we invite proposals for contributions to this project. We especially welcome perspectives from political scientists, political theorists, constitutional historians, human rights lawyers and critical theorists as well as constitutional scholars. Please email any proposals for contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Eoin Daly is a lectuer in the School of Law and Government, DCU
This post originally appeared on the Human Rights in Ireland blog