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 Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and

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PostSubject: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:03 pm

Anyone who has a copy of the little blue book (Bunreacht Na hÉireann), turn to page iii and run down the page until the English text begins and you’ll note the following:

“This text of the Constitution is a copy of the text enrolled on 27 May, 1999 pursuant to Article 25.5.2 except that:

the Transitory Provisions (Articles 51-63) are omitted as required by their terms; the Irish text has been altered so as to make it conform to modern standardized Irish…”


What?

Someone’s altered the Constitution?

Did we have a Referendum whilst I was dozing?

Who authorised the alteration?

Ah sure it’s okay, sure it only brought the text up to modern times, the substance and meaning of the text hasn’t changed, has it?

The above question has haunted me for many years. Over these years, the reasons for asking this question have paled in comparison to the answer to it.

I was quite a decent student at the old Gaeilge when I was a young lad. Over the years however, due to atrophy, my skill with my native language has declined, so that it more resembles a disability now than an ability.

Luckily for me, at the same time the the text of the blue book was somewhat enrolled, in 1999, another book was published. This book is titled: “Bunreacht Na hÉireann - A study of the Irish text,” by Micheál Ó Cearúl. The forward of this was written by Brian Lenihan TD, who’d chaired an all-party Oireachtas committee, tasked with examining the Irish text.

Anyway, I’ll not bore folks with the ins and outs of my quest to see whether the Irish text had been changed without the use of a Referendum. The short answer is that the Irish Constitution has been substantially changed and it was done so without the use of a Referendum. Practically every article has been mutated. I’ll only give one example and I urge people to get a copy of the above named book. This book provides the Irish text, the English text and the literal translation of the Irish text. The differences between the English text and the literal translation can at times be quite stunning.

Here’s the one example I’m giving. It’s Article 40.3.1, which defines how far the Justice System will go to uphold and sustain the rights of Irish Citizens.

40.3.1 English Text (Blue book version)

The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen.

40.3.1 Literal English Translation

The State guarantees not to interfere by its laws with the personal rights of any citizen, and it further guarantees to defend and assert those rights with its laws in so far as it is possible.

Anyone spotted the difference?

In the English Text (this is the one used in a Courtroom unless it is demanded that the enrolled Irish text be used), the Justice system will respect and defend personal rights as far as is ‘practicable’ to do so. In other words the rights of the citizen will be observed and defended so long as it is handy to do so.

However, in the literal translation, these rights will be observed and defended as far as it is possible to do so. In other words, the limitation placed on observing and vindicating these rights is only defined by the impossible. Your rights will be observed and vindicated unless it is impossible to do so.

That’s the one example I’m giving. The whole Constitution follows along a similar route. The English text differs quite markedly from the literal translation. And again, the English translation is the version we use. The literal translation does not appear in the little blue book.

Who authorised this and under what authority?


Last edited by Hermes on Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:31 pm

I don't know much about constitutional matters but I was under the impression that if the interpretation of the English text was in doubt the Irish text was used for clarification. I'm guessing that anyone who goes around inoking the constitution in a aserious manner would be aware of this.


Can't see a problem with modernising the text myself, if the meaning hasn't changed.
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:46 pm

905 wrote:
..

Can't see a problem with modernising the text myself, if the meaning hasn't changed.

The problem with that is that the meaning of the new text is subjective, and depends on those modernising it. And the population do not have opportunity to ratify the new text.

I agree with Hermes, this is dangerous stuff, and I certainy was not aware it was happening.
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:56 pm

C'mon, do we know what changes were made? It's probably just changing the spelling, croidh changed to croí, and that sort of thing. I imagine they took care not to change the meaning.

If there was a typo in the constitution, would we need a referendum to change that?
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:08 pm

Do the words: "practicable" and "possible" mean the same thing?
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:33 pm

Hermes wrote:
Do the words: "practicable" and "possible" mean the same thing?
Unless one of the above is a 'modern standardized' [sic] version of the other than I don't see its relevence.

And when did we start using American spelling in our official documents? I demand a referendum on that.
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:52 pm

Hermes wrote:
Do the words: "practicable" and "possible" mean the same thing?
The limits of both words are different even though an online dictionary says 'practicable' is a synonym of 'possible': http://www.answers.com/topic/practicable

It says 'practicable' means 'feasible' or 'capable of being effected' so in this sense of them being both 'as opposed to theory' they are the same, no?

However, maybe 'practicable' has overtones of being 'culturally' practiced and doesn't have the full scientific extent of the word 'possible'.

Stuff like this could be worrying alright.. (I wasn't aware of it either before you pointed it out)
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 2:40 pm

Both words have a similar meaning, but they are very far from being identical. Personally I'd prefer the protection conferred on my rights by the literal translation. That's why I'd insist on the enrolled Irish text being used, if I was in Court and in need of Constitutional protection. Otherwise, the English text would be used as a standard.

Regarding both words, allow me to give an example to show how different they are:

It would be impracticable for Ireland to do away with the two tier health system. It would be very far from impossible to do away with it.

I think I might have put too much emphasis on the alteration of the Irish text, in the original post. I'm not amused by it, but it was not the point of the post itself. It was the discovery of this that lead to the further discovery that the Constitution that is available, is not a literal translation of Bunreach Na hÉireann. That was the point of the post. I'm afraid my ego came into play, I wanted to give a step by step analysis of my 'hard work' in discovering this. Instead, I think I might have hidden it somewhat. My apologies.

The fact of the matter is that Bunreacht Na hÉireann and the Irish Constitution are two distinctly different documents. One does not translate into the other.
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 2:57 pm

Hermes wrote:
It would be impracticable for Ireland to do away with the two tier health system. It would be very far from impossible to do away with it.
Yes, there are many many situations in education, poverty-elimination and others where the two words would have to be used differently.

Quote :
I think I might have put too much emphasis on the alteration of the Irish text, in the original post. I'm not amused by it, but it was not the point of the post itself. It was the discovery of this that lead to the further discovery that the Constitution that is available, is not a literal translation of Bunreach Na hÉireann. That was the point of the post. I'm afraid my ego came into play, I wanted to give a step by step analysis of my 'hard work' in discovering this. Instead, I think I might have hidden it somewhat. My apologies.

The fact of the matter is that Bunreacht Na hÉireann and the Irish Constitution are two distinctly different documents. One does not translate into the other.
That certainly hadn't escaped me but I admit I'll have to get around to it a bit later. I was indulging myself in the semantic detail meanwhile.
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 3:06 pm

Lol, I think I'm going to be spending a lot of time apologising. I didn't really aim that last comment at you Auditor #9. I was answering 905 who seems to think my concern is to do with formatting and spelling.
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 3:49 pm

The Constitution is my bedside reading but have only a cupla feck-all as someone else on this site said.

Another good reason for us all to learn to talk proper Irish.
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:39 pm

I see where you're coming from now Hermes (I think). I can't see what changes have been made, wasn't it always the case that the Irish and English texts were seen to be different? I think when debating the meaning of an article the Irish text (or your literal translation) is the one referenced, which is bad if it's the one the voters aren't being consulted on.
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PostSubject: Re: Who changed the Irish Constitution without a referendum and   Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:04 pm

This seems the Irish version of what happens here. They have a problem here in the fact that the constitution was written in English. Undaunted the pretend that English then and English now are different so the Supreme Court must interpret the true meaning. They say that the Constitution is a Living Document and it's meaning changes with the times. I predict that when Bulgarian police officers are guarding the Shell facility up in Mayo that Ni Bheidh moran Gaeilge acu.
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