Direct Democracy Ireland

Direct Democracy Ireland, mentioned at the Talk in WicklowWe spend a lot of our time here at People for Economic Justice, putting out the fires that have sprung up all over the country as a result of disastrous economic decisions made since 2008. Those fires of course arise in the form of Sheriffs and Receivers. One area that is equally important to keeping people in their homes however, is the basic question: how on earth was this situation allowed to occur? How on earth was our country allowed to go from a period of economic boom, to economic bust, literally overnight? Well let’s take a proper look at that night.

On that fateful night in 2008, the banks for all intents and purposes, took a very ill man, Brian Lenihan into a room, and seemingly persuaded him to validate their breaking of serious banking liquidity laws, by signing over the banks private debt into ‘Sovereign debt’. At what point did the Irish people allow any one man, even the Minister for Finance, to have the awe-inspiring power of loading €64,000,000,000 in debt onto our backs, in the middle of the night, by the simple stroke of a pen?

The answer may be quite simple. In Bunreacht na hEireann (The Irish Constitution), our founding fathers left us a very powerful right. This right was and is referred to as Direct Democracy. In simple terms, Direct Democracy is the right of ANY citizen, to gather a certain number of signatures from fellow citizens (in the case of Ireland’s Direct Democracy, this was 75,000 signatures), with which they may call a Referendum on any topic. In real terms, had our right to Direct Democracy still been in effect, 75,000 signatures would have been gathered the same afternoon as the bank bailout was announced, in order to stop it, and ‘The People’ could have decided whether a private corporation was worth the economic destruction of the entire State.

This of course begs the question, if we had Direct Democracy in the first place, where did it go? Short answer:-

This vital function was removed by the Government. Upon entering power in the newly formed Irish Free State, Direct Democracy was immediately seen as a threat to the political class, and they used a loop-hole in the new Constitution to remove it.

This loop-hole, Article 50, was a right the Constitution granted to the sitting government, to ‘amend’ certain aspects of the Constitution. On removing or changing anything in the Constitution, the Government was obliged, by that same Constitution, to present this change for ratification to the people within a period of 2 years. The Government extended this period to 8 years and at the end of that period they extended the period by another 8 years, effectively denying the people of Ireland their right to hold a referendum on what they had done.

This was done under protest as there were 97,000 signatures gathered and presented to the Government against what the Government had done. These signatures were completely ignored. The excuse was ‘We are not denying you your right to hold a referendum on what we have taken out of the constitution, but rather we are putting it off for a while, to a later date’. This date never came.

In 1937, a new Constitution was drafted. This was the second Constitution. The Government put into our Constitution that they “retain the right of Referendum” along with any other changes that had been made in the interim. As it had at this point been 16 years, no one seemed to realise that the Government never had the right of Referendum to retain in the first place and it was never raised as an issue when the second Constitution was drafted. YOU, the Irish Citizen, were the owner of this right denied by the first Irish Free State Government (which incidentally, was a Fine Gael Government).

Moving Forward: Direct Democracy Ireland

Moving forward over 70 years, Raymond Whitehead, a one-time resident of Switzerland, the only country in the world where in Direct Democracy is fully practised, came across the revelation that we the Irish once had this right as well. He immediately set about fighting to bring it back, and formed the group (at the time) Direct Democracy Ireland. He rapidly gathered the 300 members required in forming a Political Party, and as of the 14th of November 2012, he has succeeded. On this date, Direct Democracy Ireland will officially launch in Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin, at 2pm, with Ben Gilroy as its party leader. All are welcome.

The beauty of Direct Democracy lies in one simple truth: Corruption and Party Politics are effectively impossible, under the imposing glare of Direct Democracy. No political party can steer our country towards their agenda, as all important decisions would ultimately land at the doorstep of the Irish voter. This is why you can trust Direct Democracy Ireland. We have one goal: Direct Democracy. If you want to know our “policies” on any other given issue, then you need only take a vote.

At this point it is my personal hope that you are reading this, wondering how you can get involved, and bring back the awesome power of Direct Democracy to the Irish People. The most effective way to do this is simple: Join the Party. Does joining the Party mean that in 2016 you are suddenly obliged to run for government? No it most certainly does not. Joining the Party allows us to build a critical mass of votes to get people who do wish to run, into Government. Upon entering Government, Direct Democracy Ireland will focus on two key tasks. Objective one is restoring Articles 47 and 48 to the Constitution (one article covered the right of Direct Democracy, the other covered the right of Recall, which is the power to remove any TD who is not living up to his election mandate, and replace him with someone willing to take on that mandate). The second objective is to ensure that no loop-hole in the law can EVER allow these rights to be removed from us again.

Join today. Give yourself back your personal power. This country and its assets belong to we the people, not the politicians.

- Ben Gilroy

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The Irish Constitution

The first and most important thing to learn about, when learning ones rights and responsibilities as an Irish Citizen, is to familiarize yourself with the most important document in Ireland’s history: Bunreacht Na hÉireann (The Constitution Of Ireland). A study of the Irish Constitution can be found below, and a brief history of the Irish Constitution follows.

Side By Side Comparison of Texts

A Study of the Irish Consitution

DeValera’s Constitution

A Brief History of the Irish Constitution

Bunreacht na HeireannIt is from this document that every single right and responsibility you have as an Irish Citizen stems. No law can be passed in The Republic of Ireland that conflicts with this document, and no changes can be made to it without a Referendum.

In a plebiscite held on 1 July 1937 the people enacted a new Irish Constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann, to replace the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State.

Even though the 1922 Irish Constitution had been approved by Dáil Éireann, there continued to exist throughout the country a substantial body of opposition to it owing to its being circumscribed by the terms of the Treaty, its recognition of the British monarch as part of the national legislature and its requirement that members of the Oireachtas swear an oath of faithfulness to that monarch.

Much of the case for a new Constitution was the need to make perfectly clear that the source of authority in Ireland and of the fundamental law of the state is the people of Ireland. Hence the Preamble to Bunreacht na hÉireann says: ‘We, the people of Éire,…do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution’. There was a desire to give the state all the characteristics of a republic (and so all references to the British monarch were removed).

There also seemed to be a desire to strengthen or entrench the rights of the citizen as against the state. It had been possible to amend the Constitution of the Irish Free State by a simple Act of the Oireachtas without recourse to the people in a referendum.

The proposal to adopt Bunreacht na hÉireann was carried by 685,105 votes in favour to 526,945 votes against, a majority of 158,160.

Source: Constitution.ie