Governing after the Rights Revolution
Posted: 13 Sep 2000 Last revised: 16 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 14, 2010
In this paper I explore the relevance of neo-republican thinking for current debates in constitutional law. In particular, I am interested in how deliberative forms of law and democracy might be grounded in real-world institutional contexts. My thesis is that the neo-republican model, underpinned as it is by the values of equality, participation, and accountability, has both explanatory and critical potential when exploring the voices, spaces, and processes of constitutionalism. I test this argument with reference to constitutional change in Northern Ireland. It is evident that equality is the core value in the settlement reached, but it is in the combination of values that the potential and tensions will arise in the future. The provisions of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 on equality are useful examples of how law might be shaped to include the voices of affected groups in the process of enforcing change in public administration. Law's role in this process is, however, more problematic than is often assumed. In this, and in other aspects of the settlement, there are lessons for others who are presently reflecting on the constitutional future in the new devolutionary contexts.
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