The Origins of the Irish Constitution, 1928?1941 by Gerard Hogan

Date01 January 2013
Royal Irish Academy, August 2012
ISBN 978-1-904890-75-1
David Gwynn Morgan
This is a wonderful book. Since it is impossible in the scope of a review to
do justice to all the rich harvest it gathers, the matters picked out here ref‌lect
this reviewer’s own preoccupations. A different reviewer could have found
equally substantial sustenance in such f‌ields as Article 29, external relations
(set in the contemporary context of the Kellogg Briand Pact of 1928–29, on
the peaceful settlement of international disputes) coupled with the position
of the King and the abolition of the off‌ice of Attorney General. The Abdication
crisis broke in December 1936, just a few months after the provision of the
new Constitution on the position of the King had been drafted. Again another
reviewer would have been more interested in the religious and family provisions
(including Mr Justice Hogan’s by now generally accepted view that, by the
standards of the era in which these were drafted, they were relatively secular
and liberal). Another might have been interested in the origins of the Irish
language provision; Article 8. Yet despite these riches, the author remarks at
decisions appear to have been made during [September 1936–March
1937] that the Constitution would def‌ine the extent of the national
territory; provide for a Second House; provide for a ban on divorce;
that it could only be amended by referendum; to drop the idea of a
special Constitutional Court and to provide for a general obligation to
protect fundamental rights via Article 40.3. But no documentation has
been located which explains the rationale for any of these decisions or
when or how or by whom they were taken.
This passage perhaps suggests, encouragingly, that there may be other discoveries
for future researchers to make.
Most of the chapters centre around the preparation and drafting of the
Constitution, for example: the Constitution Committee of 1934; submissions
from religious bodies; observations on the draft Constitution (March, 1937);
and revising the draft. However, some chapters focus on a signif‌icant episode,
1 Gerard Hogan, The Origins of the Irish Constitution, 1928–1941 (RIA, 2012)
Book Reviews.indd 134 11/06/2013 10:46

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