Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

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Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
Relating to cabinet confidentiality
LocationRepublic of Ireland Ireland
Date30 October 1997 (1997-10-30)
Results
Votes %
Yes 632,777 52.65%
No 569,175 47.35%
Valid votes 1,201,952 94.79%
Invalid or blank votes 66,091 5.21%
Total votes 1,268,043 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 2,688,316 47.17%

The Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1997 amended the Constitution of Ireland to provide that the confidentiality of meetings of the cabinet would not prevent the High Court from ordering that certain information be disclosed when this was in the public interest. It was approved by referendum on 30 October 1997 and signed into law on 14 November of the same year.

Changes to the text[edit]

Inserted a new subsection in Article 28.4:

3º The confidentiality of discussions at meetings of the Government shall be respected in all circumstances save only where the High Court determines that disclosure should be made in respect of a particular matter-

i. in the interests of the administration of justice by a Court, or
ii. by virtue of an overriding public interest, pursuant to an application in that behalf by a tribunal appointed by the Government or a Minister of the Government on the authority of the Houses of the Oireachtas to inquire into a matter stated by them to be of public importance.

The existing subsection 3º of Article 28.4 was renumbered as subsection 4º.

Overview[edit]

In 1992, during the Beef Tribunal, the Supreme Court ruled that, as the constitution stood, the confidentiality of meetings of the Government (the cabinet) was unbreachable and absolute. The court derived its ruling from Article 28.4.2º, which requires that the Government observe the principle of collective responsibility. The purpose of the Seventeenth Amendment was to allow cabinet confidentiality to be relaxed in certain circumstances.

The amendment was adopted during the Fianna FáilProgressive Democrats coalition government led by Bertie Ahern but had been first drafted and suggested by the previous Fine GaelLabour PartyDemocratic Left government led by John Bruton. The amendment, therefore, had the support of all major parties. The referendum occurred on the same day as the 1997 presidential election.

Result[edit]

Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum[1]
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Yes 632,777 52.65
No 569,175 47.35
Valid votes 1,201,952 94.79
Invalid or blank votes 66,091 5.21
Total votes 1,268,043 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 2,688,316 47.17
Results by constituency[1]
Constituency Electorate Turnout (%) Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
Carlow–Kilkenny 83,916 51.3% 21,487 19,073 53.0% 47.0%
Cavan–Monaghan 81,914 48.7% 22,232 14,827 60.0% 40.0%
Clare 69,756 50.0% 18,211 14,578 55.6% 44.4%
Cork East 62,721 53.1% 16,833 14,620 53.6% 46.4%
Cork North-Central 70,864 45.8% 15,073 15,838 48.8% 51.2%
Cork North-West 46,369 60.3% 14,086 11,787 54.5% 45.5%
Cork South-Central 82,981 52.8% 20,515 21,319 49.1% 50.9%
Cork South-West 47,439 57.8% 14,480 11,104 56.6% 43.4%
Donegal North-East 51,725 39.8% 10,679 8,596 55.5% 44.5%
Donegal South-West 50,878 41.7% 11,575 8,339 58.2% 41.8%
Dublin Central 63,046 34.6% 11,032 9,907 52.7% 47.3%
Dublin North 62,885 46.7% 14,887 13,524 52.4% 47.6%
Dublin North-Central 65,756 47.4% 14,981 15,119 49.8% 50.2%
Dublin North-East 58,785 42.0% 12,123 11,706 50.9% 49.1%
Dublin North-West 59,677 39.8% 11,780 11,149 51.4% 48.6%
Dublin South 88,522 50.5% 20,171 23,043 46.7% 53.3%
Dublin South-Central 67,138 42.5% 13,684 13,771 49.9% 50.1%
Dublin South-East 62,149 45.6% 11,794 15,417 43.4% 56.6%
Dublin South-West 74,929 34.8% 13,554 11,512 54.1% 45.9%
Dublin West 65,552 40.0% 13,070 12,205 51.8% 48.2%
Dún Laoghaire 85,557 48.9% 19,069 21,346 47.2% 52.8%
Galway East 59,992 51.3% 16,019 12,628 56.0% 44.0%
Galway West 76,169 45.8% 16,437 16,239 50.4% 49.6%
Kerry North 50,742 45.2% 11,104 10,317 51.9% 48.1%
Kerry South 46,991 48.3% 11,623 9,490 55.1% 44.9%
Kildare North 50,590 45.4% 11,371 10,755 51.4% 48.6%
Kildare South 46,893 42.6% 10,284 8,875 53.7% 46.3%
Laois–Offaly 83,027 49.8% 21,083 17,852 54.2% 45.8%
Limerick East 75,739 46.9% 16,213 17,558 48.1% 51.9%
Limerick West 46,628 52.5% 12,106 10,567 53.4% 46.6%
Longford–Roscommon 62,200 52.4% 16,281 14,268 53.3% 46.7%
Louth 70,584 44.4% 16,725 13,191 56.0% 44.0%
Mayo 85,178 48.7% 21,593 17,366 55.5% 44.5%
Meath 88,283 44.4% 20,299 16,981 54.5% 45.5%
Sligo–Leitrim 63,230 50.7% 16,726 13,381 55.6% 44.4%
Tipperary North 52,237 54.4% 14,140 12,335 53.5% 46.5%
Tipperary South 50,927 52.7% 13,496 11,887 53.2% 46.8%
Waterford 68,548 45.9% 16,369 13,322 55.2% 44.8%
Westmeath 47,080 48.8% 11,600 10,086 53.5% 46.5%
Wexford 82,570 47.7% 20,215 16,992 54.4% 45.6%
Wicklow 78,149 45.6% 17,777 16,305 52.2% 47.8%
Total 2,688,316 47.2% 632,777 569,175 52.7% 47.3%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Referendum Results 1937–2015" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 23 August 2016. p. 56. Retrieved 17 May 2018.

External links[edit]