Third Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Third Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland permitted the state to join the European Communities (which would later become the European Union and provided that European law (then Community law) would take precedence over the constitution. It was effected by the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1972 which was approved by referendum on 10 May 1972 and signed into law on 8 June of the same year and passed as the Third Amendment of the Constitution Act 1972

Changes to the text[edit]

  • Insertion of new Article 29.4.3:
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). No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Communities or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the Communities, or institutions thereof, from having the force of law in the State.


Membership of the European Communities granted powers to European institutions which the 1937 constitution had vested exclusively in the Oireachtas (parliament) and the Government. It was also possible that many provisions of the constitution might be found to be incompatible with European law. For these reasons the Third Amendment introduced a provision expressly permitting the state to join the Communities and stating in broad terms that European law has supremacy over the constitution. Although the amendment shown above is that made to the English-language version of the constitution, constitutionally it is the Irish text that has precedence.

The Third Amendment was the first to be successfully approved by Irish voters in a referendum. It was introduced by the Fianna Fáil government of Jack Lynch but also supported by Fine Gael, the main opposition party, and by employers' and farmers' interest groups. However it was opposed by the Labour Party, Sinn Féin and Official Sinn Féin and the trade unions. The voting went 1,041,890 (83.1%) in favour and 211,891 (16.9%) against.

President Eamon de Valera opposed the state's entry and voted no, citing the loss of sovereignty.[1]

As Ireland had no nuclear power programme, nor any important coal and steel industries, membership of the Communities primarily concerned the European Economic Community.

In later years the various European organisations (with the exception of EAEC) were integrated by subsequent treaty ratifications into the European Union (EU).


Third Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum[2]
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 1,041,890 83.09
No 211,891 16.91
Valid votes 1,253,781 99.17
Invalid or blank votes 10,497 0.83
Total votes 1,264,278 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 1,783,604 70.88

Results by Constituency[edit]

Constituency Electorate Turnout Yes votes No votes Spoilt
Carlow–Kilkenny 104,735 74.6% 36,588 7,728 472
Cavan–Monaghan 37,229 74.3% 24,266 3,128 278
Clare 39,413 67.4% 22,813 3,510 229
Clare-Galway South 34,820 72.1% 22,027 2,855 214
Cork City North-West 36,115 70.1% 21,228 3,995 157
Cork City South-East 36,476 75.4% 22,887 4,492 140
Cork Mid 49,402 77.3% 31,962 6,060 189

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eamon de Valera by Ronan fanning, page two hundred and fifty nine
  2. ^ "Referendum Results" (PDF). Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 

External links[edit]