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Catherine Murphy tables an alternative proposal to strengthen the Constitutional Convention

Statement | 10th July 2012

Today I submitted an alternative proposal to the Government’s Dáil resolution establishing the Constitutional Convention. While I welcome the establishment of the Convention, my amendment seeks to address several key flaws which have been identified and is designed to enhance the ability of the Convention to make necessary, durable and democratically-sourced proposals for reform, developed with the essential input of civil society organisations.

I welcome the move towards making real constitutional reform proposals, especially considering that several serious investigations into the prospect of constitutional reform have been made by the Oireachtas since 1960s and all have been effectively ignored. However, the approach adopted by Government to the overall design of the Constitutional Convention, and the piecemeal ‘box-ticking’ remit which will be assigned to it, puts the whole endeavour at serious risk of the same fate as its predecessors.

Today I’m proposing that the balance of the Convention delegates be weighted further in favour of citizens over Oireachtas and Assembly members and that these delegates are selected with specific regard to the socio-economic, cultural, ethnic, gender and age profiles of Irish society. Experience from around the world shows that reforms stand a much better chance of success when developed with the engagement of the public in an appropriately-designed forum.

I’m also proposing that a dedicated avenue be given to civil society organisations to participate fully in the Convention’s deliberations and that a mandate be given to the Convention to report on its entire proposed work programme within two months of its first public hearing.

In terms of remit, I’m proposing further specific consideration for Ireland’s obligations under the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and, crucially I believe, also propose to give the Convention the ability to deliberate and make recommendations on any area of the Constitution it sees fit to be considered for reform. This would take away the barrier to holistic and meaningful reform posed by the very limited remit under current proposals.

Our constitution deserves the utmost diligence when considering reform. Any changes to our basic law must be rock-solid and well considered. The changes I’m proposing today would, I feel, greatly enhance the ability of the Constitutional Convention to avoid the repeated mistakes we’ve made in the past and achieve genuine, legitimately sourced reform proposals which will stand the test of time.


Murphy hosts NGO Representatives at Leinster House to discuss the Constitutional Convention

Murphy joins with Technical Group Deputies to make detailed proposals on the Constitutional Convention

Related Links

Order Paper, 10th July 2012 (Containing text of Government Resolution establishing Consitutional Convention)

Technical Group proposals to the establishment of the Constitutional Convention, March 2012

Government Proposals on the Constitutional Convention

Government Response to Opposition Views on Establishment of the Convention

ICCL Press Release, 10th July 2012: “Dozens of Civil Society Groups Protest Exclusion from Constitutional Convention”

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