Contesting Politics: Women in Ireland, North and South

By Yvonne Galligan; Eilís Ward et al. | Go to book overview
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Women and the Constitution of Ireland

ALPHA CONNELLY


Adoption of the Constitution

Times were different in 1937. Ireland was still young and nationalist aspirations for the unity of the island were largely unquestioned. Intemationally the League of Nations was crumbling, the shadow of authoritarian rule had fallen across Europe, and there was economic instability as another world war loomed. At home, religion played a large part in most people's lives and the churches, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, had enormous influence on the social and legal order. Women had won the vote but were nevertheless expected to devote their lives to domestic pursuits.

That year the people voted themselves a new constitution, one that sought to throw off the last vestiges of colonial rule and to assert the independent sovereignty of the new state. It was a historical landmark, and inevitably the constitution bore, and still bears, the hallmarks of the age of its adoption, both in its content and in the language of its text. One of the areas in which this is most apparent is in the allocation of gender roles.

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Under the Irish Constitution of 1937, the name of the state is Éire, or in the English language, "Ireland", and this official name of the state in the English language is used throughout this chapter. In 1948, it was declared by statute that the description of the state shall be the Republic of Ireland and, on the coming into force of the statute in 1949, Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth.

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