The Constitutional Politics of a United Ireland

Oran Doyle, Aileen McHarg, and Jo Murkens (eds.), The Brexit Challenge for Ireland and the United Kingdom: Constitutions under Pressure (Cambridge University Press, 2021)

24 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2020

See all articles by Oran Doyle

Oran Doyle

Trinity College (Dublin); Academia Sinica - Institutum Iurisprudentiae (IIAS)

David Kenny

Trinity College Dublin School of Law

Christopher McCrudden

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law; University of Michigan Law School; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Date Written: September 1, 2020

Abstract

The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union renders a united Ireland more likely than before. Although Northern Ireland could be incorporated into the existing unitary Irish state without constitutional amendment, unification is likely to be accompanied by significant constitutional change or a new constitution. In this chapter, we explore the modalities and implications of amending Ireland’s constitution to make a newly unified state more sensitive to the concerns and aspirations of those from the Ulster Scots and Ulster British traditions. We first explore how devolved, consociational government for Northern Ireland could continue within a united Ireland, politically empowering those from the Ulster Scots and Ulster British traditions. This might increase the sympathy of those from that tradition for the new state. But we also show how the operation of devolution could presage a divergence of interests that leads to significant tensions between the national institutions and the devolved institutions, and within the national institutions themselves. We then identify the many provisions of the current Irish constitution that posit a notion of Irish identity exclusionary of those from the Ulster Scots and Ulster British traditions. Amendment of these constitutional provisions is surely a sine qua non for increased sympathy for the unified State. Many of these provisions, however, manifest and reflect indicia of Irish identity dearly held by many if not most citizens of the current Irish state. Their removal—at least without detailed consideration of how the Constitution might be amended to respect multiple identities—risks reducing the sympathy of existing citizens for the unified State. We conclude by exploring how the various constitutional changes considered would be interpreted and amendable after unification.

Keywords: Irish constitutional law; Northern Ireland; devolution; unification

Suggested Citation

Doyle, Oran and Kenny, David and McCrudden, Christopher, The Constitutional Politics of a United Ireland (September 1, 2020). Oran Doyle, Aileen McHarg, and Jo Murkens (eds.), The Brexit Challenge for Ireland and the United Kingdom: Constitutions under Pressure (Cambridge University Press, 2021) , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3684386

Oran Doyle (Contact Author)

Trinity College (Dublin) ( email )

2-3 College Green
Dublin, Leinster D2
Ireland

Academia Sinica - Institutum Iurisprudentiae (IIAS) ( email )

128 Academia Sinica Rd., Sec. 2
Nankang
Taipei City, 11529
Taiwan

David Kenny

Trinity College Dublin School of Law ( email )

College Green
Dublin 2
Ireland

Christopher McCrudden

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law ( email )

School of Law
Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland BT7 1NN
United Kingdom

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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