Marking the 75th Anniversary of Bunreacht na hÉireann, Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has paid tribute to the document’s drafters and called on Government to give the upcoming Constitutional Convention more meaningful terms of reference.
Deputy Martin commented, “On this day 75 years ago, the Irish people voted to adopt a new Constitution establishing the Republic. At a time when fascism was emerging as a force throughout Europe and threatening to become a part of the Irish political landscape, Bunreacht na hÉireann established the primacy of the Irish citizen and safeguarded democratic legitimacy for generations to come. In the intervening 75 years, the Irish people have become the guardians of the document, changing it only when they believed it in their interests to do so.
“The Constitution is a living document that must continue to respond to the changing realities of life in this country. For this reason, my party will be playing a very active role in the upcoming Constitutional Convention. However, the early signals from Government suggest that the opportunities that should have been presented by this review are going to be lost.
“The original idea presented by Government was that the Convention would have begun last summer and be well on the way to preparing its final report by now. Instead, there has been an on-going delay and it now has a severely limited agenda. In an extraordinary move, the Government is refusing to let a Convention on the constitutional future of this country even discuss whether we have a second chamber in parliament.
“What this reflects is that the government wants to have a convention which cannot touch the fundamental issues of how the Oireachtas and the government work. Its definition of reform seems to be that it is OK as long as it doesn’t touch on their power or control.
“If this continues, the moment for reform may be lost for a long time and the public will rightly become even more disillusioned with politics.
“If we learn nothing else from the crisis that the country is going through, we must learn that our political system requires systematic reform. Fianna Fáil will be bringing forward detailed proposals for such reform and we are calling on Government to allow such proposals be considered in the context of the Constitutional Convention.”