The relevance of Sovereignty in contemporary times: The postmodern conception of Sovereignty and Pringle

AuthorSamantha Long
PositionBCL (Hons) LL.M. (Health and Care Law), University College Cork. The author would like to thank Dr Maria Cahill for her guidance and advice in the production of this article
Pages50-60
[2015] COLR
50
THE RELEVANCE OF SOVEREIGNTY IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES: THE
POSTMODERN CONCEPTION OF SOVEREIGNTY AND PRINGLE.
Samantha Long*
A INTRODUCTION
This article considers the case of Pringle v Government of Ireland & Ors
1
in light of the
postmodern conception of sovereignty. This concept, coupled with the judicial conception
evident in Pringle, would appear to illustrate the Irish State’s current position in relation to
sovereignty, not merely because the case is quite recent but also due to the fact that it
seriously considers the implications of European integration. As noted by Cahill, [w]hen the
Irish Constitution was drafted in 1937, the capacity of a national government to act on the
international sphere was one of the highest expressions of state sovereignty.
2
Nowadays, it is
more accurate to say that action on the international level poses the biggest threat to
sovereignty with the result that national constructions of sovereignty must either be re-
construed in order to accommodate the shift from national to supranational sites of
government, or that the nation state must surrender its self-understanding and self-description
as ‘sovereign’.
3
Accordingly, Walker highlights how the ‘shift to a multi-dimensional
configuration or authority as a result of the emergence of the European Union and other
post-state polities deepens and sharpens the challenge to sovereignty and demands, at least,
a radical overhaul in our understanding and conceptualisation of [the] key term, and at most,
a renewed consideration of whether it is indeed facing redundancy.
4
MacCormick, on the
* BCL (Hons) LL.M. (Healt h and Care Law), University College Cork. The author would like to thank Dr
Maria Cahill for her guidance and advice in the production of this article.
1
[2012] IESC 47 (Pringle).
2
Maria Cahill, ‘Judicial Con ceptions of Sovereignty’ in Eoin Carolan (ed) The Constitution of Ireland:
Perspectives and Prospects (Bloomsbury 2012) 143-158 at 143.
3
ibid.
4
Neil Walker, Sovereignty in Transition (Hart 2003) 9.

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