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Republican themes in the Irish constitutional tradition

Eoin Daly
p. 163-184


Ostensibly, the Irish Constitution of 1937 draws philosophical inspiration from Catholic social teachings and the theory of natural law. While it enshrines rather generic concepts of democracy and popular sovereignty, it seems bereft of distinctively republican ideas, despite the republican influences of the Irish political revolution. However, this article argues that many of the central devices and institutions of the Constitution may be interpreted in a republican light.

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Full text document will be published online on November 2018.


Republican constitutionalism: an overview
Popular sovereignty
Constitutional rights and non-domination

First lines


The approaching centenary of the Irish state has, unsurprisingly, prompted a great deal of reflection as to its republican character and credentials, and particularly as to the legacy of the republican ideas and rhetoric that motivated much of the political revolution from which the independent polity emerged. Much of this analysis has focused on the political culture of the State, and particularly its alleged pathologies of clientelism and corruption. However, relatively little has been said about the republican character, or otherwise, of the Irish Constitution. On the one hand, the Constitution of 1937 was seemingly influenced by Catholic social thought and characterised by a bellicose Gaelic-Christian nationalism that seemed rather bereft of republican potential. On the other hand, there are clear imprints of traditional republican ideas in constitutional provisions and principles relating to the structure and ethos of state institutions – some of which differentiate...

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Bibliographical reference

Eoin Daly, « Republican themes in the Irish constitutional tradition », Études irlandaises, 41-2 | 2016, 163-184.

Electronic reference

Eoin Daly, « Republican themes in the Irish constitutional tradition », Études irlandaises [Online], 41-2 | 2016, Online since 30 November 2018, connection on 12 December 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/etudesirlandaises.5047

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About the author

Eoin Daly

National University of Ireland Galway

By this author

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