Monday, January 30, 2006

Constitutions-R-Us


The recent Irish blogosphere activity on "the family", victim impact statements, random breathtesting, etc has set me thinking. Why is it that every reasonable and sensible thing seems to be unconstitutional or at least require a constitutional amendment? Clearly having a document that articulates the collective beliefs of a nation is extremely valuable - provided that it reflects the views of all Irish people. And I appreciate that one of the best features of a constitution is that it can't be easily changed.
Of course our constitution was drafted in a very different era. We'd hardly cast of the protective cloak that was the gift of our colonial neighbours. We'd no view on separation of Church and State ; Most of our people were of one Christian religion or none ; We were all (largely) the one colour. No one had sex and certainly not sex of a homosexual kind ; Women were too busy holding the home together to join the our men folk in the smoking room to discuss politics. We viewed the Travelling community as a large European family on an extended holiday in Ireland. Indeed mainland Europe was a strange and alien place to where our best writers decamped and we'd never countenance anyone from there willing wanting to come to Ireland to work. US FDI was unimaginable.
It is clear that if we were to start writing our constitution today, we wouldn't be starting from the same point. And then there is the issue of multiple amendments. Clearly any document that is repeatedly modified soon starts to look a little threadbare. Maybe it is time to take a blank page (*) and draft our new 21st century constitution. We could write up a document based on all those things that we agree on rather than on taking one narrow perspective and trying to modify it to make it more generally acceptable. If journalists write the first draft of history, then perhaps bloggers should write the first draft of our new constitution?

Paige

(*) Like the subliminal advertising?

9 Comments:

Blogger Omaniblog said...

Aren't you the great one for the challenges!

As a starter, just to get the juices flowing, I offer this version of the preamble:

"In the Name of the citizens of Ireland, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of the 26 counties of Ireland,
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our peoples and their values, Which sustained our mothers and fathers through centuries of challenge,
Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to retain their rightful independence,
And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the diversity of our peoples valued, and concord established with other peoples and nations,
Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution."

10:50 p.m., January 30, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Nice one Paul, I was thinking of something a bit snappier like ....

Preamble
Recognising the need to balance dignity, freedom and respect of the individual with the maintenance of social cohesion, the Irish people enact this constitution. The Irish people, from whom all authority is granted, reserve the right to amend this constitution such that it supports rather than constrains their democratically expressed intentions.

3:59 p.m., January 31, 2006  
Blogger Simon said...

No one had sex
I think the fact that we are all here suggest that that statement is false :)

4:20 p.m., January 31, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

Good one, Saint. Well spotted. We need that kind of attention to detail. I hadn't noticed that untruth. These journalists....

You have to watch them.

2:11 p.m., February 01, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

Paige,

If we're going to get the new Constitution adopted, I think we should hold on to as much as possible of the old one.

Remember our peoples fought and died, spilled their blood, offered sacrafice for our Constitution.

But I think we should cut out as many long words (3 or more syllables) as possible. This will increase the number of people likely to read and understand it.

How you you think we should carry on drafting?

2:16 p.m., February 01, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Just because someone die for it, isn't really a good enough reason for me. Writing a new constitution is a bold step. Hence you need to be guided by the past but brave enough to let go.

We could set up a dedicated blog site that is open to everyone to contribute a piece of the drafting but we'd need to be sure that moer than you and I had enthusiasm for the task at hand. I give up very very easily and nkow I probably would!

3:53 p.m., February 02, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

The saint must be American not to have spotted the one ironic phrase in my post.

3:55 p.m., February 02, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

Oh I think the saint was being humorous.

It was Oliver Flanigan TD (which stands for tachta daile, meaning member of the Dail, the Irish parliament - my spelling may not be correct) wo first said that sex was introduced into Ireland by foreign influencs, wasn't it?

I'm surprised at you Paige, saying that about Americans. Some of the best humorists are Americans...

4:27 p.m., February 04, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

Good on you for bringing this back to life. See you are not just someone who starts things off. You are a miracle worker too.

I'm not yet convinced by all this talk about a new Ire-land. Certainly there is new money and new commerce. But are there any new values? I'd like to believe that there was now a widespread love of diversity, but, as some blogger said recently, the hardest thing is to love the Loyalists. Accepting Loyalists as fully-fledged Ire-ish seem to stick in the throat of a good body of our folk.
I'd like to believe in fairies too.

I have "The Pope's Children" sitting on the wiffe's side of the bed. As soon as she lets me, I'll read that. Meanwhile I'll just have to go out and talk to people.

9:33 a.m., March 02, 2006  

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