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Labour plans new constitution

Labour has revealed an ambitious plan to have a new constitution in place for the centenary of the 1916 proclamation.

The party wants a 90-member constitutional convention involving citizens to review the country's ageing laws and draft a replacement within 12 months.

A third would be ordinary people randomly selected from the electoral register, another third will represent civil society bodies and academia, with the final 30 nominated by the Oireachtas.

Brendan Howlin, spokesman on constitutional matters and law reform, said if Labour was elected its proposals on constitutional reform - which includes the abolition of the Seanad - would also be considered by the panel.

"Labour is the only party to propose a structured participatory forum in which the Irish people can shape their common future," he said.

"Our constitutional convention will collectively draft a new constitution for a 21st century republic.

"A constitution which can be in place for the 2016 centenary of the proclamation of our Republic."

Labour said its approach was based on the best international practice in citizen participation in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and in the US.

The convention's deliberations, ideas and working papers will be available online so residents can put forward their own comments and suggestions.

The draft constitution would be be submitted to the decision of the Irish people in a referendum.

The Constitution of Ireland came into operation on December 29 1937.

Mr Howlin said the political system has failed Irish people over the years.

"Labour has a long and proud tradition of reforming and modernising our Republic, and in the light of that experience, proposes that for the first time ever Irish people should be given an opportunity to reflect and decide upon the Republic they want," he added.

PA Media