I’ve just discovered that a referendum held in 1979 (32 years ago) which asked the people if they wanted to extend the franchise in Senate elections to include all third-level graduates was passed but never implemented.
I rang the Dept. of the Environment to inquire how this was possible in a so called democratic state.
Specifically, I wanted to know if there was any legal/legislative obligation on the part of civil servants or politicians to implement the will of the people as a result of a referendum.
The official I spoke with said, to her knowledge, there was no such obligation, that there was no time limit in which a referendum result had to be legally activated.
I took the following explanation of Article 46 of the Constitution from the Dept’s website.
Under Article 46 of the Constitution, a proposal to amend the Constitution must be introduced in the Dail as a Bill. When the Bill has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas (Parliament), it must be submitted to the people for approval as a referendum. If a majority of the votes cast at the referendum are in favour of the proposal, the Bill is signed by the President and the Constitution is amended accordingly.
This is crystal clear; if a majority is in favour the Bill will be passed.
It seems the people who drew up the Constitution never dreamed that our republic would ever degenerate into an irretrievably corrupt state.
They assumed that political and civil service standards of honesty, accountability and professionalism would remain at a level that would not require every possible angle to be legislatively and forensically covered to avoid official trickery.
I’m getting to the point where I feel the need to take a hot, cleansing shower after every news report.
Dept. of Environment