1937 Constitution of Ireland (with Amendments)

Enacted 1937

Sections deleted by constitutional amendment are noted in red.  Sections added by amendment are noted in blue



In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred, We, the people of Éire, Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,  Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation, And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations, Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.

Article 2
The national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas. 
[Deleted by 19th amendment, 1998 (part of the Good Friday Agreement)]


Article 3
Pending the re-integration of the national territory, and without prejudice to the right of the Parliament and Government established by this Constitution to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that territory, the laws enacted by that Parliament shall have the like area and extent of application as the laws of Saorstát Éireann and the like extra-territorial effect.
[Deleted by 19th amendment, 1998 (part of the Good Friday Agreement)]

Article 40:  Personal Rights

Section 3:

Clause 1:  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.

Clause 2:  The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the life, person, good name, and property rights of every citizen.

Clause 3:  The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.
[Clause added by 8th amendment, 1983]

This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state.
[Sub-clause added by 13th amendment, 1992]

This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state.
[Sub-clause added by 14th amendment, 1992]


Section 6:  The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality:

Clause 1:  The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions. The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavor to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State. The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offense which shall be punishable in accordance with law.


Article 41:  The Family

Section 1

Clause 1:  The State recognizes the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.

Clause 2:  The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.

Section 2

Clause 1:  In particular, the State recognizes that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

Clause 2:  The State shall, therefore, endeavor to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.

Section 3

Clause 1:  The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.

Clause 2:  No law shall be enacted providing for the grant of a dissolution of marriage.
[Deleted by 15th Amendment, 1996]
[Amended language, added by 15th Amendment, 1996]:
A Court designated by law may grant a dissolution of marriage where, but only where, it is satisfied that—

    1. at the date of the institution of the proceedings, the spouses have lived apart from one another for a period of, or periods amounting to, at least four years during the previous five years,
    2. there is no reasonable prospect of a reconciliation between the spouses,
    3. such provision as the Court considers proper having regard to the circumstances exists or will be made for the spouses, any children of either or both of them and any other person prescribed by law, and
    4. any further conditions prescribed by law are complied with.

Clause 3:  No person whose marriage has been dissolved under the civil law of any other State but is a subsisting valid marriage under the law for the time being in force within the jurisdiction of the Government and Parliament established by this Constitution shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage within that jurisdiction during the lifetime of the other party to the marriage so dissolved. 

Article 42:  Education

Section 1

The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children.

Clause 1:  Parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes or in private schools or in schools recognised or established by the State.

Clause 2:

    1. The State shall not oblige parents in violation of their conscience and lawful preference to send their children to schools established by the State, or to any particular type of school designated by the State.
    2. The State shall, however, as guardian of the common good, require in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social.

Clause 3:  The State shall provide for free primary education and shall endeavor to supplement and give reasonable aid to private and corporate educational initiative, and, when the public good requires it, provide other educational facilities or institutions with due regard, however, for the rights of parents, especially in the matter of religious and moral formation.

Clause 4:  In exceptional cases, where the parents for physical or moral reasons fail in their duty towards their children, the State as guardian of the common good, by appropriate means shall endeavor to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child. 


Article 44:  Religion

Section 1

Clause 1:  The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.

Clause 2:  The State recognizes the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the Faith professed by the great majority of the citizens.
[Deleted by 5th Amendment, 1973]

Clause 3:  The State also recognizes the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland, as well as the Jewish Congregations and the other religious denominations existing in Ireland at the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution.
[Deleted by 5th Amendment, 1973]

Section 2

Clause 1:  Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen.

Clause 2:  The State guarantees not to endow any religion.

Clause 3:  The State shall not impose any disabilities or make any discrimination on the ground of religious profession, belief or status. 


Article 45:  Directive Principles of Social Policy

Section 4

Clause 2:  The State shall endeavor to ensure that the strength and health of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children shall not be abused and that citizens shall not be forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their sex, age or strength.


Full text of 1937 Constitution (with subsequent amendments) available at: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Ireland_(consolidated_text)

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