Third Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

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Third Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
To permit the state to join the European Communities
LocationRepublic of Ireland Ireland
Date10 May 1972 (1972-05-10)
Results
Votes %
Yes 1,041,890 83.10%
No 211,891 16.90%
Valid votes 1,253,781 99.17%
Invalid or blank votes 10,497 0.83%
Total votes 1,264,278 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 1,783,604 70.88%

The Third Amendment of the Constitution Act 1972 is an amendment to the Constitution of Ireland that permitted the State to join the European Communities, which would later become the European Union, and provided that European Community law would take precedence over the constitution. It was approved by referendum on 10 May 1972, and signed into law by the President of Ireland Éamon de Valera on 8 June of the same year.

The incorporation of the law of the European Communities into Irish domestic law was put into effect by the European Communities Act 1972 which became law on the day Ireland acceded to the European Communities on 1 January 1973.

Background[edit]

In 1951, Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands formed the European Coal and Steel Community. In 1957, the same six countries formed the European Economic Community and European Atomic Energy Community. Together, these were known as the European Communities and shared common institutions.

In 1961, Ireland applied to join the European Communities. This application was withdrawn after President of France Charles de Gaulle exercised a veto in respect of the application of the United Kingdom. A second application was made in 1967, and in 1972, the six member states signed a Treaty of Accession with Denmark, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom. 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 Costa v ENEL (1961), the European Court of Justice established the primacy of European Community law. Therefore, an amendment was needed in order to avoid a conflict with the Constitution of Ireland which had granted powers to exclusively in the Oireachtas (parliament) and the Government of Ireland. It was also possible that many provisions of the constitution might be found to be incompatible with European law.

Changes to the text[edit]

Addition of a new subsection to Article 29.4 of the Constitution:

3º 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.

Oireachtas debate[edit]

The Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1971 was introduced in the Dáil by Tánaiste Erskine H. Childers of Fianna Fáil.[1] Of the opposition parties, it was supported by Fine Gael, while it was opposed by the Labour Party. At the Second Stage debates, it was moved by Taoiseach Jack Lynch.[2] The Labour Party sought to defeat the reading of the bill at second stage; a government motion to prevent this passed by 106 votes to 17, and the bill proceeded to Committee Stage.[3] At Committee Stage, the government accepted a Fine Gael amendment to the final sentence. As initiated, this sentence had begun, "No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State consequent on membership of the Communities […]"; the amendment replaced the words highlighted in bold with the words "necessitated by the obligations of".[4][5] It passed all stages in the Dáil on 26 January 1972.[6] It passed all stages in the Seanad on 8 March 1972.[7]

Views on Accession[edit]

As well as parties represented in the Oireachtas, accession was also supported by employers' and farmers' interest groups. President Éamon de Valera privately opposed the state's entry and voted no, citing the loss of sovereignty.[8]

The newspaper the United Irishman opposed the state's entry.[9] Official Sinn Féin also opposed the entry citing anti-imperialism, and calling it a "rich man's club" [9][10] Provisional Sinn Féin also opposed the entry saying it would undermine Irish sovereignty and that the "Common Market Empire would threaten Irish ownership of Irish land".[10]

Result[edit]

The Third Amendment was approved with 81.1% in favour to 16.9% against.[11] It was the first amendment to the Constitution to be approved by Irish voters in a referendum.

Third Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum
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[11]
Constituency Electorate Turnout (%) Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
Carlow–Kilkenny 59,415 74.6% 36,588 7,278 83.4% 16.6%
Cavan 37,229 74.3% 24,266 3,178 88.4% 11.6%
Clare 39,413 67.4% 22,833 3,510 86.7% 13.3%
Clare–Galway South 34,820 72.1% 22,027 2,855 88.5% 11.5%
Cork City North-West 36,115 70.1% 21,208 3,995 84.3% 15.7%
Cork City South-East 36,476 75.4% 22,887 4,492 83.6% 16.4%
Cork Mid 49,402 77.3% 31,962 6,050 84.1% 15.9%
Cork North-East 50,016 76.6% 32,439 5,544 85.4% 14.6%
Cork South-West 38,285 74.3% 24,553 3,680 87.0% 13.0%
Donegal North-East 37,924 65.6% 22,554 2,030 91.7% 8.3%
Donegal–Leitrim 38,540 67.8% 22,005 3,908 84.9% 15.1%
Dublin Central 46,775 62.7% 22,289 6,750 76.8% 23.2%
Dublin County North 58,761 68.7% 32,004 8,125 79.8% 20.2%
Dublin County South 45,289 72.7% 26,838 5,901 82.0% 18.0%
Dublin North-Central 49,073 68.2% 26,257 7,028 78.9% 21.1%
Dublin North-East 55,483 73.4% 31,637 8,930 78.0% 22.0%
Dublin North-West 44,369 67.0% 22,494 6,978 76.3% 23.7%
Dublin South-Central 50,400 67.5% 25,766 7,955 76.4% 23.6%
Dublin South-East 37,840 68.0% 20,859 4,692 81.6% 18.4%
Dublin South-West 41,740 65.5% 19,893 7,344 73.0% 27.0%
Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown 56,151 72.6% 34,102 6,474 84.0% 16.0%
Galway North-East 34,358 69.3% 21,398 2,283 90.4% 9.6%
Galway West 35,999 62.0% 17,400 4,806 78.4% 21.6%
Kerry North 37,018 67.2% 18,500 6,064 75.3% 24.7%
Kerry South 36,391 66.9% 19,237 4,890 79.7% 20.3%
Kildare 40,065 70.0% 23,213 4,599 83.5% 16.5%
Laois–Offaly 56,344 74.2% 35,728 5,823 86.0% 14.0%
Limerick East 47,001 72.6% 25,957 7,280 78.1% 21.9%
Limerick West 35,904 74.1% 22,971 3,432 87.0% 13.0%
Longford–Westmeath 47,095 70.7% 28,210 4,713 85.7% 14.3%
Louth 40,278 72.2% 24,623 4,187 85.5% 14.5%
Mayo East 34,810 66.9% 20,691 2,422 89.5% 10.5%
Mayo West 34,106 63.6% 19,157 2,332 89.1% 10.9%
Meath 39,040 73.4% 23,765 4,605 83.8% 16.2%
Monaghan 36,214 73.8% 23,179 3,330 87.4% 12.6%
Roscommon–Leitrim 37,682 70.7% 22,964 3,375 87.2% 12.8%
Sligo–Leitrim 38,049 70.4% 22,915 3,598 86.4% 13.6%
Tipperary North 34,754 76.7% 22,147 4,286 83.8% 16.2%
Tipperary South 46,127 76.6% 29,343 5,638 83.9% 16.1%
Waterford 39,513 73.9% 24,086 4,964 82.9% 17.1%
Wexford 49,881 72.2% 28,635 7,105 80.1% 19.9%
Wicklow 39,389 71.1% 22,310 5,502 80.2% 19.8%
Total 1,783,604 70.9% 1,041,890 211,891 83.1% 16.9%

Aftermath and later developments[edit]

The European Communities Act 1972 was signed into law on 6 December 1972. This provided a legislative basis for the primacy and direct effect of European Community law. On 1 January 1973, Ireland, Denmark and the United Kingdom became member states of the European Communities (Norway had rejected membership in a referendum).

In Crotty v. An Taoiseach (1987), the Supreme Court of Ireland held that further transfer of power to the European Communities that were not in themselves necessitated by membership of the European Communities (in that instance, approval of the Single European Act, would require a further amendments to the Constitution, and therefore have required approval by referendum. Subsequent changes to the Treaties of the European Communities and later of the European Union have also required amendments to the Constitution, and therefore have required approval by referendum. These amendments have substantially altered the initial wording of 29.4.3º as inserted by the Third Amendment. The Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland approved in 2009 in particular, allowing the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, created a different structure to the subsections in Article 29.4.

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1971: First Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. 23 November 1971. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1971: Second Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. 2 December 1971. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1971: Second Stage (Resumed)". Houses of the Oireachtas. 9 December 1971. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1971: Committee Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. 25 January 1972. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1971: Committee Stage (Resumed)". Houses of the Oireachtas. 26 January 1972. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1971: Report and Final Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 26 January 1972. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1971: Report and Final Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 8 March 1972. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  8. ^ Éamon de Valera, Ronan Fanning, p. 259.
  9. ^ a b Sean Swan (2008). Official Irish Republicanism: 1962–1972. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  10. ^ a b "After 41 years of shifting battlelines, the Brexit vote for Northern Ireland is a very tough one to call". Belfast Telegraph. 23 May 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Referendum Results 1937–2015" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 23 August 2016. p. 27. Retrieved 15 April 2018.

External links[edit]