independent

Thursday 24 April 2014

Crisis!

Some of the most bitter rows in Irish life came from planned constitutional changes, says Paul Melia. These are the 10 biggest flare-ups since 1937 . . .

SINCE it came into force 75 years ago, the Constitution has bitterly divided public opinion. The role of religion in Irish public life, divorce, abortion, censorship and the notion of what constitutes our national territory has resulted in 34 different referendums, where the public has been asked to agree to changes setting out the fundamental rights of Irish citizens and how the country is governed.

While the Constitution may have, when drafted, reflected the concerns of the ruling class – a time where homosexuality was a criminal offence and women were treated as second-class citizens – much has changed since.

Changing family circumstances, a new attitude to the Northern question and a more liberal approach have all resulted in many changes to the document.

The question of abortion has reared its head again in recent months, while the Constitutional Convention is currently discussing whether the voting age should be reduced to 17 and if the term of a president should be reduced from seven to five years.

Here, we outline some of the major constitutional crises that have rocked the State to its foundations over the past 75 years.

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