Saturday 23 March 2019

Final Results

Repeal the Eighth Amendment?

Yes 66.40% 1,429,981

No 33.60% 723,632

  • Constituencies declared: 40/40

Referendum Hub

Q&A: What your vote will decide

Stock photo
Stock photo

Shona Murray

Q: There is a lot of talk of "repeal simpliciter", but what does it mean?

A: Repeal simpliciter, as the name suggests, is a straight or 'simple' repeal of article 40.3.3, otherwise known as the Eighth Amendment.

It means the Eighth Amendment would be deleted from Bunreacht na hÉireann without anything replacing it.

Q: What does the alternative of "repeal and enable" mean?

A: Repeal and enable will do the same thing in deleting the Eighth Amendment, but will insert an additional bulwark against the success of any future appeal in the High Court or Supreme Court.

Q: How will it do that?

A: The "enable" part means the Eighth Amendment will be replaced by an enabling provision which states the Oireachtas will have full responsibility to legislate on this matter. Hence, "the Oireachtas may provide for the termination of pregnancy in accordance with law".

Q: Why would we need to get a constitutional mandate for lawmakers to legislate when this is their job?

A: There are some who say the "enable" part is surplus to requirement. But the Government says that by asking the public to specifically agree to a clause recognising the Oireachtas' incontestable permission to legislate, it may reduce the likelihood that a case can be fought and won in the courts.

This would be based on the argument that the government's new abortion legislation is unconstitutional.

Q: Why is that important?

A: There have been past legal arguments that suggest the Irish Constitution by its very nature is implicitly anti-abortion. And even if the Eighth Amendment is repealed, there are provisions that say abortion is illegal anyway. These are known as unenumerated rights.

But if the people vote explicitly to entrust the Oireachtas with this issue, it may make it harder to argue to against the legislation produced.

Q: So the law can never be challenged?

A: No. Laws will always be tested because of the importance of judicial oversight.

But any judge would have to strongly consider the fact that the people have voted to give the Oireachtas full responsibility to make the laws on their behalf.

Irish Independent

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