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.
A Brief History of the Irish Constitution
It 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.