Long Train Running: The Slowly Developed (and Slowly Developing) Role of Ireland’s Oireachtas in EU Affairs

  • Gavin Barrett


The attitude of the Irish public to European Union (EU) membership has traditionally been positive through the years of membership and remains so now (even if trust in EU institutions has now fallen sharply due to the association in the public mind of these institutions with the harsh economic medicine doled out in order to deal with the banking and financial crisis). Thus, even at the times when two of Ireland’s many referendums on EU-related issues went against the ratification of individual EU treaties, opinion polls concerning the merits of EU membership itself consistently gave results that were among the most favourable in Europe.1 Ireland has now had nine referendums concerning seven treaties — beginning with the Treaty of Accession to the original three European Communities, and followed by referendums on the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty,2 the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Treaty of Nice (twice) and the Lisbon Treaty (twice). Most recently, on 31 May 2012, a constitutional amendment facilitating ratification of the Fiscal Stability Treaty was approved in a referendum, with 60.3 per cent of votes in favour and 39.7 per cent against on a turnout of 50 per cent. The major role assigned to referendums in the Irish legal system has, however, tended at times to divert attention from the rules governing the role of the Irish Parliament (the Oireachtas) in EU affairs, which merits attention and is of considerable comparative interest.


European Union Select Committee European Union Level Lisbon Treaty European Union Institution 
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© Gavin Barrett 2015

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  • Gavin Barrett

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