Human Rights Law Ireland, Human Rights Solicitors Ireland, European human rights solicitors, Solicitors specialising in human rights The Irish Constitution:

The Irish Constitution was enacted in 1937 and for the first time certain fundamental rights were set out in writing. These rights are generally set out in Articles 40-44 and cover such areas as:

  • equality of its citizens
  • the right to personal liberty
  • family rights
  • protection of marriage
  • rights relating to education, and
  • the guarantee in relation to the private ownership of property

It also covers matters in relation to:

  • freedom of worship
  • freedom of conscience
  • the right to habeas corpus
  • the entitlement to judicial review

Also guaranteed are:

  • freedom of speech
  • the right of assembly, and
  • the right to non-discrimination

Throughout the years since the passing of the Irish Constitution, there have been a number of judgements in Irish law, which have established that there are a number of what are described as unenumerated constitutional rights. These are rights which are not expressly written in the constitution but have been accorded constitutional protection by the Irish Courts, these include:

  • the right to bodily integrity
  • the right not to have one’s health endangered by the State
  • the right to earn a living
  • the right to marry and have a family
  • guaranteed access to the courts
  • the right to legal representation
  • the presumption of innocence, and
  • the right to fair procedures in decision making

Everybody wants to know exactly what their fundamental rights are but unfortunately these rights are qualified. For instance Article 41 says that the family possesses ‘inalienable and imprescribable rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law’. At the same time a spouse or partner can be barred from the family home. Free speech for instance can be limited or banned altogether in the interest of “public order or public morality”. The judiciary frequently use the phrase “the common good”. Many entirely legitimate constitutional challenges have been struck down because of what the judiciary decide is “the common good”. Quite often this represents a message to the politicians – ‘we will not create new law for you, that is your job’.

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