Ninth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

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Ninth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
To allow non-Irish citizens to vote in general elections
Location Republic of Ireland Ireland
Date 14 June 1984 (1984-06-14)
Results
Votes %
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%

The Ninth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1984 (previously bill no. 11 of 1984) is an amendment to the Constitution of Ireland that allowed for the extension of the right to vote in elections to Dáil Éireann (the house of representatives of the Oireachtas) to non-Irish citizens. It was approved by referendum on 14 June 1984 and signed into law on 2 August of the same year.

Background[edit]

Article 16 of the Constitution of Ireland as approved in 1937, and amended in 1972 to lower the voting age, provided that the franchise for elections to Dáil Éireann would be citizens who have reached the age of 18. The Electoral Amendment Bill 1983, proposed by the Fine GaelLabour Party government led by Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, would have amended the Electoral Act 1963 to allow British citizens as defined by the British Nationality Act 1981 to vote in elections to Dáil Éireann. This was to reciprocate the Ireland Act 1949, a British statute, which among other provisions had granted Irish citizens resident in the United Kingdom the right to vote in elections to the British parliament.

The Bill was referred by President Patrick Hillery to the Supreme Court under Article 26 of the Constitution. In a judgment delivered on 8 February 1984, they found the bill to be unconstitutional.[1]

In response, the government then proposed a constitutional amendment which would specifically allow the franchise in elections to Dáil Éireann to be extended to non-Irish citizens. This did not affect presidential elections or referendums, where the text of the Constitution continued to specify citizens only.

Changes to the text[edit]

Deletion of the entirety of Article 16.1.2º:

Every citizen without distinction of sex who has reached the age of eighteen years 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 16.1.2º:

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.

Amendment to Article 16.1.3º by the addition of the 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.

Under the provisions of the Referendum Act 1984, these changes were described on the polling card sent to voters as:[2]

The Ninth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1984, proposes to extend the right conferred on citizens to vote at elections for members of Dáil Éireann to such other persons in the State who have reached the age of 18 years as may be specified by legislation enacted by the Oireachtas.

Oireachtas Debates[edit]

The Ninth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1984 was proposed by Minister for the Environment Liam Kavanagh on 11 April 1984.[3] It had the support of opposition party Fianna Fáil and passed all stages of the Dáil without amendment on that day.[4] It passed all stages of the Seanad on the same day.[5]

Result[edit]

Ninth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum[6]
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 and turnout 2,399,257 47.47
Results by constituency[6]
Constituency Electorate Turnout (%) Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
County Carlow 27,838 45.7% 9,272 3,077 75.1% 24.9%
County Cavan 39,012 54.8% 15,228 5,114 74.9% 25.1%
County Clare 62,782 51.7% 25,119 6,082 80.6% 19.4%
Cork City 90,442 39.4% 26,325 8,269 76.1% 23.9%
County Cork 182,816 56.5% 76,884 22,431 77.5% 22.5%
County Donegal 89,072 55.0% 31,950 13,991 69.6% 30.4%
Dublin City 379,501 39.8% 107,191 40,347 72.7% 27.3%
County Dublin 319,818 42.2% 99,771 32,710 75.4% 24.6%
County Galway 124,762 39.5% 37,422 10,092 78.8% 21.2%
County Kerry 86,653 48.2% 29,625 10,189 74.5% 25.5%
County Kildare 71,584 41.5% 22,491 6,510 77.6% 22.4%
County Kilkenny 48,538 47.5% 17,384 4,833 78.3% 21.7%
County Laois 34,472 63.1% 15,774 5,206 75.2% 24.8%
County Leitrim 20,887 68.4% 9,721 3,745 72.2% 27.8%
Limerick City 39,034 42.3% 12,258 3,723 76.8% 23.2%
County Limerick 70,625 51.8% 27,825 7,259 79.4% 20.6%
County Longford 21,704 50.0% 7,965 2,320 77.5% 22.5%
County Louth 60,448 45.4% 18,128 8,288 68.7% 31.3%
County Mayo 83,217 51.1% 31,966 8,945 78.2% 21.8%
County Meath 66,974 50.3% 24,529 7,932 75.6% 24.4%
County Monaghan 35,885 54.2% 12,875 5,367 70.6% 29.4%
County Offaly 39,615 67.1% 18,987 6,452 74.7% 25.3%
County Roscommon 38,741 53.4% 15,638 4,259 78.6% 21.4%
County Sligo 38,822 59.5% 17,045 5,154 76.8% 23.2%
North Tipperary 41,103 55.5% 16,629 5,258 76.0% 24.0%
South Tipperary 52,631 55.3% 22,047 5,875 79.0% 21.0%
Waterford City 24,988 42.9% 7,678 2,738 73.8% 26.2%
County Waterford 35,064 48.4% 12,507 3,760 76.9% 23.1%
County Westmeath 42,255 46.9% 14,669 4,433 76.8% 23.2%
County Wexford 68,455 51.3% 23,948 9,778 71.1% 28.9%
County Wicklow 61,519 42.8% 19,632 6,113 76.3% 23.7%
Total 2,399,257 47.5% 828,483 270,250 75.4% 24.6%

Note: For this referendum, the constituencies used were each county and county borough (city), which were deemed under section 2 of the Referendum (Amendment) Act 1984 to be constituencies for the purpose of the poll.[7] Usually in Irish referendums the Dáil Éireann general election constituencies are used.

Aftermath[edit]

The Electoral (Amendment) Act 1985 was passed the following year. This amended the Electoral Act 1963 to grant the vote to British citizens. It also allowed the Minister for the Environment to extend the franchise to citizens of a member of the European Communities on a reciprocal basis. To date, no such order has been made for any other country.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ O'Higgins CJ (8 February 1984). "In the Matter of Article 26 of the Constitution and in the Matter of The Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1983". Irish Reports: 268. 
  2. ^ "Referendum (Amendment) Act, 1984". Irish Statute Book. Attorney General of Ireland. 17 April 1984. Retrieved 16 May 2018. 
  3. ^ "Ninth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1984 — Second Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. 11 April 1984. Retrieved 16 May 2018. 
  4. ^ "Ninth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1984: Committee and Final Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 11 April 1984. Retrieved 16 May 2018. 
  5. ^ "Ninth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1984: Committee and Final Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 11 April 1984. Retrieved 16 May 2018. 
  6. ^ a b "Referendum Results 1937–2015" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 23 August 2016. p. 39. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 
  7. ^ "Referendum Results 1937–2015" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 23 August 2016. p. 38. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 
  8. ^ "Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1985". Irish Statute Book. Attorney General of Ireland. 17 April 1984. Retrieved 16 May 2018. 

External links[edit]