Showing posts from June, 2018

The dark secret heart of English law

I attended the High Court oral hearing into the Article 50 challenge last week. A dedicated group of Remain protestors waited outside, offering highly visible support. My esteemed friend Liz Webster, appellant, and her talented group sat in the gothic gloom of the High Court, waiting for justice. I’ll leave detailed commentary on the judgment to others, with greater expertise than mine, however I must comment on one aspect of the proceedings which I find particularly worrisome. As one might expect, there were frequent references to the Constitution and constitutional procedures. The constitution is, allegedly, the bedrock on which all legal and administrative affairs are constructed. This fundamental body of British law and custom is, however, inaccessible to ordinary citizens. Lawyers can disagree about its meaning but the rest of us have little power to discern the substance of their arguments. This might seem like a minor complaint but I believe it exposes a serious structural fla

Britain hands control, to Ireland!

Voters may be surprised to hear the feuding Tory government is close to handing the final say on the UK’s EU exit treaty to a decision, by referendum, of the people of Ireland! This may seem incredible but it’s the logical conclusion of events now unfolding in London as the Tory party continues its farcical Brexit “policy”. Tory cabinet ministers are bitterly divided over the precise meaning of Brexit, two years after the referendum which was supposed to settle the question. It’s now clear the referendum raised many more questions than answers. The main Brexit negotiations are between Tory government factions in London, trying, and thus far failing, to hammer out an agreed position. The latest round of Tory Brexit conflict concerns the Irish border, which has defied all attempts at resolution in London. There is an irreconcilable conflict between the wish to sever links with the EU on one hand and, on the other hand, Britain’s commitments arising from the Good Friday Agreement an

How the 8th amendment vote was lost and won

The troubled history of the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution raises many questions about imperfect, democratic methods used to achieve lasting constitutional change, some of which are surprisingly relevant to the EU withdrawal referendum. The Irish constitution , (1), is written in clear, easily understood language and published in booklet form. It describes the institutions of the republic and the basic principles upon which its laws are founded. Children are introduced to the constitution and encouraged to study it, in school. There is no equivalent document in Britain. There are many sources, collectively referred to as "the Constitution" but they are not readily accessible to citizens as a single, comprehensible document. The constitution of Ireland has been the focus of vigorous debate since its first draft appeared in 1937. Any proposal to amend the constitution requires a referendum of all registered voters. A simple majority of those voting is required t