Sunday 18 February 2018

This time, let us decide on the transfer of sovereignty

Abolishing a harmless Seanad without tackling real problems will solve little, writes John Crown

The two most defining characteristics of a republic are sovereignty and representative government. Our national rights to both of these gifts were hard fought, and both have been enshrined in our Constitution, Bunreacht na hEireann.

The Government is proposing major changes to the Constitution, changes which would have the effect not only of reducing our sovereignty, but also of abolishing one of the two imperfect chambers of our imperfect parliamentary democracy. These government proposals may or may not be wise, but they would have such profound implications for our Republic that they should only be enacted following detailed discussion and consultation with the citizenry, and with their explicit approval through popular referendum.

Instead, the Taoiseach has sought the opinion of a single citizen -- the Attorney-General (whom he appointed himself) -- on the question of whether sovereignty can be transferred to the European Union without popular consent, and he has, moreover, decided to exclude a discussion of the future of Seanad Eireann, which he wishes to see abolished, from the proposed constitutional convention.

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