AuthorDavid Kenny - Conor Casey - Aileen Kavanagh
PositionGuest Editors
[2022 ] Irish Judicial Studies Journal Vol 6(3)
Welcome to the third editi on of the Irish Judicial Studies Journal 2022. This edition builds
on a conference which was held in April 2022, organised by the Trinity Centre for
Constitutional Governance one year late, due to COVID delay s to mark the 20th
anniversary of TD v Minister for Education. Inviting academics with distinctive viewpoints and
broad expertise in Irish public law, it sought to tease out the implic ations of this landmark
case, one of the most famous in the Irish constitutio nal law canon. The articles in this edition
are expansions of and elaborations on many of these presentations, and reflect the dominant
important themes of the conference.
A common refrain at the conference was that TD dominated the educa tion and academic
careers of those in the room. Many of the presenters w ere in various stages of their legal
educati on when the case, along with the Sinnott case, came down. Reacting to it, in whatever
manner, shaped the thinking of that generation of ac ademics. Its centrality to Irish
constituti onal thought means that it has similarly shaped everyone who has been legally
educate d since.
It is fascinating, then, to see that one of the primary themes of these a rticles is the question
of how large TD s impact truly is, and how big it should be. The various article s consider this
question in different ways, but there is a general consensus that the importance given to TD
should probably be reduced.
Colm O ’Cinneide argues that the TD majority, in painting their j udgment in broad brush
strokes, reached some questionable conclusions and ended up in a conceptual mess , making
rigid, categorical disti nctions between the functions of the branches of government that
could not be right. It is time, he thinks, to revisit this old ground and reconsider at least some
of its more extreme aspects.
Laura Cahillane conducts a close analysis of the TD ca se’s impac t on the separation of
powers, and some of the most extreme effects of this, such as the extent of review of
executiv e action for rights infringements. She note s that the recent case of Burke v Minister
for Education suggests some of these extremities are being rolled back in favour of somewhat
different orthodoxy.
Tom Hicke y suggests that TD, as a precedent, should be read narrowly, and not given the
sweeping significance it is often attributed. The case, he says, is fundamentally about the
extraordinary order made in the High Court; reading it more much broadly than this is a
mistake . He sees the Burke case not as a pivot away from TD’s orthodoxy, but a reassertion
of the proper meaning of TD, which never had such a broad sweep.
Conor O’Mahony and David Kenny continue this exploration with a slightly different focus.
O’Mahony conducts a close analysis of precedent before TD, and suggests that its stance on
review and remedy for rights violations is was an outlier in Irish constitutional law ; any move
away this is a restoration of a prior orthodoxy. He goes on to suggest that what TD really
illustrated was in fact a deep and abiding judici al reluctance in Ireland to engage with social
and economic rights, something which he notes could persist even if such rights were
inserted into the constitutional text.

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