Ninth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

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The Ninth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland extended the right to vote in elections to Dáil Éireann (the lower house of parliament) to certain non-Irish citizens. It was effected by the Ninth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1984, which was approved by referendum on 14 June 1984 and signed into law on 2 August of the same year.

Changes to the text[edit]

  • Deletion of the entirety of Article 16.1.2:
Every citizen without distinction of sex who has reached the age of twenty-one years eighteen years[1] who is not disqualified by law and complies with the provisions of the law relating to the election of members of Dáil Éireann, shall have the right to vote at an election for members of Dáil Éireann.
  • Substitution of new Article 16.1.2:
i. All citizens, and
ii. such other persons in the State as may be determined by law, without distinction of sex who have reached the age of eighteen years who are not disqualified by law and comply with the provisions of the law relating to the election of members of Dáil Éireann, shall have the right to vote at an election for members of Dáil Éireann.
  • Addition to Article 16.1.3 (added text in bold):
No law shall be enacted placing any citizen under disability or incapacity for membership of Dáil Éireann on the ground of sex or disqualifying any citizen or any other person from voting at an election for members of Dáil Éireann on that ground.

Overview[edit]

A bill, the Electoral Amendment Bill 1983 had sought to give the right to vote for all elections & referenda to British citizens. This bill was referred to the Irish Supreme Court by the Irish President and the court found it to be unconstitutional. The purpose of the Ninth Amendment was to allow UK citizens resident in the Republic to vote in Dáil elections. This was to reciprocate the Ireland Act 1949, which had granted Irish citizens resident in the UK the right to vote in elections to the British parliament after the Irish Government had, by leaving the Commonwealth and enacting the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 removed such rights in existing British law from Irish citizens in the UK. The effect of the amendment was to allow the Oireachtas (parliament) to extend the right to vote at Dáil elections to any non-citizens it chooses by simply passing a law. The law subsequently passed, the Electoral (Amendment) Act 1985, granted British citizens the right to vote for the Dáil, and allowed for other EU citizens to be granted the same right if the Minister for Justice declares that reciprocal rights exist for Irish citizens in the respective EU member state. No such declaration has been made as of 2013. The amendment did not affect presidential elections or referendums, for which one must still be an Irish citizen in order to vote. While the changes shown above are those made to the English-language version of the constitution, constitutionally it is the Irish text that has precedence.

The Ninth Amendment was introduced by the Garret FitzGerald's Fine GaelLabour Party coalition government but was also formally supported by Fianna Fáil (the major opposition party). When submitted to referendum it was adopted, on a low turnout, by 828,483 (75.4%) votes in favour to 270,250 (24.6%) against.

Result[edit]

Ninth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum[2]
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 828,483 75.40%
No 270,250 24.60%
Valid votes 1,098,733 96.47%
Invalid or blank votes 40,162 3.53%
Total votes 1,138,895 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 2,399,257 47.47%

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