Should the pro-choice movement support a new constitutional provision on abortion?

In the run-up to the Citizens’ Assembly deliberations on abortion, there was a lot of discussion on the possibility of a ‘compromise’ or ‘moderate’ solution. Many envisaged (and feared) that instead of recommending outright repeal of the Eighth amendment, the assembly would instead recommend inserting a replacement clause that would permit slightly less restrictive abortion laws, but still enshrine specific, limited grounds for abortion. Indeed, such a supposedly moderate position was probably contemplated by the government as something that a mythical ‘middle Ireland’ might accept. Along with many others, I was adamant that it was a terrible idea to enshrine abortion restrictions of any kind at the constitutional level. This would have the effect of copperfastening a potentially oppressive regime for another generation.

And so the early debate was dominated by the question of ‘repeal versus replace’. Ultimately many of us were surprised that the Assembly deliberations unfolded along very different lines. In the first place, the Assembly clearly rejected the idea of inserting any revised abortion restrictions within the Constitution itself, partly because the majority rejected such restrictions, bar time limits, full stop. However, it also declined to recommend straightforward deletion of the Eighth amendment, which has essentially been the demand of the prochoice movement to date. Instead, it seems to have been influenced by the view that the revised text of the Constitution, minus the ‘eighth’, could still be interpreted as including residual rights for the ‘unborn’, and that this could be used to challenge liberalizing legislation of the kind it recommended. Therefore, it recommended inserting a new constitutional clause which, in the working of the Assembly report, would clarify that it is ‘solely’ within the power of the Oireachtas to legislate on ‘any rights of the unborn’ and ‘any rights of the pregnant woman’.

Continue reading “Should the pro-choice movement support a new constitutional provision on abortion?”

Should the pro-choice movement support a new constitutional provision on abortion?

NUI Galway Announce New Director of Irish Centre for Human Rights

NUI Galway has announced the appointment of Professor Siobhán Mullally as the Established Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway. Professor Mullally will take up her post in September 2017.

Professor Mullally is currently a Professor at the School of Law, UCC where she also holds the position of Vice-Head of the College of Business & Law. She was recently elected President of the Council of Europe expert group on human trafficking, GRETA. Professor Mullally is also a Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission and a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

For further information see here.

NUI Galway Announce New Director of Irish Centre for Human Rights

A boon for parliament? An initial response to the decision in Kerins v McGuinness

We are pleased to welcome this post by Dr. Tom Hickey, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University.

Sometimes constitutional law has an ironic effect and one that perhaps goes against the intuitions of lawyers, and of people generally. It prevents one arm of government from doing justice in order to allow another arm of government to do its job well. In today’s High Court judgment in Kerins v McGuinness, we see something like that at play, although it is probably better to say that in this instance constitutional law prevented one institution (the courts) from considering whether to offer a remedy for alleged injustices done unto Angela Kerins in order to allow another institution (parliament) to freely carry out its functions.

Continue reading “A boon for parliament? An initial response to the decision in Kerins v McGuinness”

A boon for parliament? An initial response to the decision in Kerins v McGuinness

The Role of Sport in the Recognition of Transgender and Intersex Rights

We are pleased to welcome this guest post by Conor Talbot, PhD Candidate at the European University Institute, Florence, and an Associate Researcher at the Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin (contact ctalbot@tcd.ie).

Sport is an integral part of the culture of almost every nation and its ability to shape perceptions and influence public opinion should not be underestimated. The United Nations has highlighted the potential for using sport in reducing discrimination and inequality, specifically by empowering girls and women. Research indicates that the benefits of sport include enhancing health and well-being, fostering empowerment, facilitating social inclusion and challenging gender norms.

Continue reading “The Role of Sport in the Recognition of Transgender and Intersex Rights”

The Role of Sport in the Recognition of Transgender and Intersex Rights

Human Rights Day 2015: A day of celebration or depression?

We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Thamil Ananthavinayagan, a PhD researcher at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Galway

“(…) Iuris consultus factus causam

suorum ita dixit ut accusator fieret ipse dominorum (…)“

– Anthony Bowen, in his oration on the occasion of the conferring of honorary doctarate to Nelson Mandela at the University of Cambridge

 

Introduction

On the 10th of December 1948 the United Nations (hereafter: UN) General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (hereafter: UDHR), the first codified document setting out the universal principles of human rights and the foundational document for the United Nations human rights system. It is the birthday of human rights.

Two years later, in 1950, the United Nations General Assembly declared this December 10th as Human Rights Day, while the world was still recovering from years of war that devastated the landscapes of our cities and our souls. The UN put forth this declaration that recognized the ramifications of human suffering and injustice, and called for December 10th to be a day to celebrate the inherent rights of every person, everywhere. While the UDHR is a non-binding document, its adoption marked the advent of human rights treaties to follow, launching human rights dialogue and sustained efforts to implement human rights worldwide. It was, is and will be a document for: progress.

  Continue reading “Human Rights Day 2015: A day of celebration or depression?”

Human Rights Day 2015: A day of celebration or depression?

A Franco-Irish discussion on marriage equality at NUI Galway

French Embassy Logo

The School of Law at NUI Galway, in association with the French embassy in Ireland, will host a Franco-Irish discussion on marriage equality on April 25th.

The keynote speaker is Erwann Binet, deputy of the French National Assembly. Deputy Binet was the rapporteur for the French “pour tous” (marriage equality) bill in 2013 and will speak on the political challenges faced in passing the bill through the French parliament.

Whereas marriage equality was legislated for in France without a referendum – despite significant political and public opposition – the Irish government has committed to holding a referendum to legalise same-sex marriage in 2015, as it believes that the Constitution in its current form would prevent this from being introduced through ordinary legislation. More than three quarters of the members of the Constitutional Convention recommended that the Constitution should be amended for provide for marriage equality for same-sex couples. Parallel to the debate on marriage rights, there has been move towards legislative reform concerning assisted reproduction and adoption rights in both countries.

In this light, this event will provide an insight on the shared experience of Ireland and France in undertaking legislative and constitutional reform in controversial areas of family law.

April 25th, 12pm

AM 150 (Martin O’Tuathail theatre)

The event is open to the public

For queries contact eoin.daly@nuigalway.ie ; 091 493362

A Franco-Irish discussion on marriage equality at NUI Galway

Call for papers: judges, politics and the Irish Constitution

DCUOn September 4th 2014, the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, hosts its first annual Law and Government conference. The theme for the conference is Judges, Politics and the Irish Constitution. In the context of the recent Constitutional Convention, now is an apt time to reflect on the role of politics and law in Irish constitutionalism. The conference will bring together academics, including postgraduate students; practitioners; judges and politicians. It will combine academic papers with more reflective pieces. We welcome submissions from any discipline on issues relevant to the conference theme.

 

Papers should address aspects of the theme in at least one of the following categories:

 

  • Irish constitutional law in socio-legal perspective: law and disadvantage
  • Irish constitutionalism in historical and comparative perspective: constitutional transitions and institutional design
  • Socio-economic rights in Irish constitutional law: practice and reform
  • Irish constitutional law and the impact on politics and the political process
  • Legal theory and adjudication in Irish constitutional law

 

Abstracts for papers should be submitted to the conference conveners at the following email address: DCUlawgovconf@gmail.com. They should be submitted not later than May 19th 2014. Abstracts should be a maximum of 500 words and should fit within the conference theme. While practice-oriented papers are encouraged, they should engage with more general historical, socio-legal or theoretical dimensions. As well as considering the academic merit of the abstracts, the assessors will also consider whether the proposed paper fits with the general theme and specific categories. We aim to notify applicants of our decisions by May 30th 2014.

 

Manchester University Press will publish a peer-reviewed edited volume comprising the best papers. This volume will include a minimum of one postgraduate paper. We also intend to produce a dedicated edition of the Socio-Legal Studies Review comprising other relevant papers arising from the conference.

 

There will also be a prize for the best paper by a postgraduate student.

 

Those who are interested in having their paper considered for inclusion in the edited volume, the special edition or the best postgraduate paper prize – are asked to send full versions of their papers by 22nd August 2014.

 

Follow us on Twitter @LawGovDCU

 

Confirmed speakers

 

Catherine McGuinness, former justice of the Supreme and High Courts and Senator

Gerard Hogan, Judge of the High Court

Ivana Bacik, Professor of Law, Trinity College Dublin

Mary Hanafin, former minister and former government chief whip

Colm O Cinneide, Reader in Law, University College London

Gerry Whyte, Professor of Law, Trinity College Dublin

 

Further speakers to be confirmed.

 

Convenors

 

Dr. Laura Cahillane, School of Law and Government, DCU

Dr. Eoin O’Malley, School of Law and Government, DCU

Ms. Claire-Michelle Smyth, School of Law and Government, DCU

Dr. James Gallen, School of Law and Government, DCU

Dr. Tom Hickey, School of Law and Government, DCU

 

 

Key dates

 

May 19th        Submit abstract

May 30th         Notification from assessors

August 22nd   Submit full paper*

September 4th Conference

 

*mandatory for those wishing to have papers considered for MUP edited volume and/or Socio Legal Studies special edition and for the best postgraduate paper prize.

Call for papers: judges, politics and the Irish Constitution

The 'political' nature of judicial appointments is probably intractable

With the pending establishment of a new Court of Appeal and a predicted spate of senior judicial retirements in the coming year, the judicial appointments process is the subject of renewed debate. In recent years it has increasingly been accepted that the strongly political nature of Ireland’s judicial appointments system threatens to undermine public confidence in the integrity and the independence of the Courts.

Continue reading “The 'political' nature of judicial appointments is probably intractable”

The 'political' nature of judicial appointments is probably intractable

The constitutional politics of the marriage-equality referendum

dailchamberThe government has finally committed to equalising marriage rights for same-sex couples by way of a referendum in 2015. The decision to hold a referendum – instead of using ordinary legislation – is not only unnecessary, I believe, but positively misguided. More to the point, the impulse to hold a referendum reflects many of the most unfortunate features of our legal and political culture: in particular, it reveals a good deal about the treatment and use of constitutional law (and constitutional discourse) in our politics. As I have argued previously, it is symptomatic in particular of the pervasive over-constitutionalisation of our politics.

Continue reading “The constitutional politics of the marriage-equality referendum”

The constitutional politics of the marriage-equality referendum