Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
To provide constitutional recognition of local government
Location Ireland
Date 11 June 1999 (1999-06-11)
Results
Votes %
Yes 1,024,850 77.83%
No 291,965 22.17%
Valid votes 1,316,815 92.35%
Invalid or blank votes 109,066 7.65%
Total votes 1,425,881 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 2,791,415 51.08%

The Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution Act 2001 is an amendment to the Constitution of Ireland which provided constitutional recognition of local government and required that local government elections occur at least once in every five years. It was approved by referendum on 11 June 1999 and signed into law on 23 June of the same year. The referendum was held the same day as the local and European Parliament elections.

Background

The structure of local government in Ireland dates back to the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, subject to amendments since then. There was no reference to local government in the Constitution as adopted in 1937. Local elections were held at irregular intervals: the local elections held previous to the adoption of the Amendment were in 1991, 1985 and 1979. Constitutional recognition of local government was proposed by the All-Party Committee on the Constitution, including a requirement to hold regular election.

Changes to the text

Insertion of a new Article:

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Article 28A

  1. The State recognises the role of local government in providing a forum for the democratic representation of local communities, in exercising and performing at local level powers and functions conferred by law and in promoting by its initiatives the interests of such communities.
  2. There shall be such directly elected local authorities as may be determined by law and their powers and functions shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be so determined and shall be exercised and performed in accordance with law.
  3. Elections for members of such local authorities shall be held in accordance with law not later than the end of the fifth year after the year in which they were last held.
  4. Every citizen who has the right to vote at an election for members of Dáil Éireann and such other persons as may be determined by law shall have the right to vote at an election for members of such of the local authorities referred to in section 2 of this Article as shall be determined by law.
  5. Casual vacancies in the membership of local authorities referred to in section 2 of this Article shall be filled in accordance with law.

Oireachtas debate

The Amendment was sponsored by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government and was proposed in the Dáil on 11 May 1999 by Minister of State Dan Wallace on behalf of the Fianna FáilProgressive Democrats coalition government led by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.[1] It was passed final stages in the Dáil on 12 May where it was opposed by opposition parties Fine Gael, the Labour Party, the Green Party, the Socialist Party and Independent Tony Gregory. Their opposition was to elements of the drafting rather than the principle of constitutional recognition of local government.[2] It passed final stages in the Seanad on the same day, and proceeded to a referendum on 11 June 1999.[3]

Campaign

A Referendum Commission was established by Minister for the Environment and Local Government Noel Dempsey.[4] At the time, its role included setting out the arguments for and against the proposal.[5]

Result

Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum[6]
Choice Votes %
Yes 1,024,850 77.83
No 291,965 22.17
Valid votes 1,316,815 92.35
Invalid or blank votes 109,066 7.65
Total votes 1,425,881 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 2,791,415 51.08
Results by constituency[6]
Constituency Electorate Turnout (%) Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
County Carlow 34,074 51.5% 12,403 3,900 76.1% 23.9%
County Cavan 43,134 64.2% 20,028 5,422 78.7% 21.3%
County Clare 75,542 60.1% 32,618 8,726 78.9% 21.1%
Cork City 91,255 46.9% 31,375 8,858 78.0% 22.0%
County Cork (Northern Division) 58,242 62.9% 26,053 6,699 79.6% 20.4%
County Cork (Southern Division) 136,188 52.5% 51,761 14,172 78.6% 21.4%
County Cork (Western Division) 37,426 65.6% 18,143 4,185 81.3% 18.7%
County Donegal 105,236 62.0% 46,669 13,774 77.3% 22.7%
Dublin City 351,188 35.4% 87,558 30,385 74.3% 25.7%
Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown 146,036 39.1% 42,606 11,870 78.3% 21.7%
Fingal 121,929 39.1% 34,180 11,076 75.6% 24.4%
Galway City 38,846 44.5% 12,318 3,300 78.9% 21.1%
County Galway 103,728 58.4% 43,512 10,590 80.5% 19.5%
County Kerry 100,272 63.3% 44,189 12,493 78.0% 22.0%
County Kildare 102,867 44.8% 33,939 9,408 78.3% 21.7%
County Kilkenny 57,167 56.3% 23,411 6,235 79.0% 21.0%
County Laois 40,820 62.4% 17,643 5,690 75.7% 24.3%
County Leitrim 21,232 75.4% 11,875 2,972 80.0% 20.0%
Limerick City 37,816 48.0% 12,849 4,031 76.2% 23.8%
County Limerick 86,420 56.0% 34,364 9,111 79.1% 20.9%
County Longford 24,385 71.0% 12,213 3,453 78.0% 22.0%
County Louth 73,906 48.4% 25,553 8,039 76.1% 23.9%
County Mayo 87,636 64.5% 42,538 8,901 82.7% 17.3%
County Meath 94,558 46.7% 32,210 8,814 78.6% 21.4%
County Monaghan 41,172 66.0% 18,879 5,711 76.8% 23.2%
County Offaly 46,117 57.2% 19,133 5,272 78.4% 21.6%
County Roscommon 40,814 69.7% 20,971 5,196 80.2% 19.8%
County Sligo 43,546 69.3% 22,053 5,836 79.1% 20.9%
South Dublin 160,517 34.0% 38,824 13,226 74.6% 25.4%
Tipperary North 46,434 67.4% 22,708 5,910 79.4% 20.6%
Tipperary South 58,106 64.0% 26,932 7,160 79.0% 21.0%
Waterford City 29,451 45.0% 9,599 2,756 77.7% 22.3%
County Waterford 41,934 61.9% 17,475 4,896 78.2% 21.8%
County Westmeath 49,061 52.8% 18,666 5,279 78.0% 22.0%
County Wexford 85,172 51.1% 30,772 9,316 76.8% 23.2%
County Wicklow 79,188 51.6% 28,830 9,303 75.7% 24.3%
Total 2,791,415 51.1% 1,024,850 291,965 77.8% 22.2%

Note: For this referendum, the constituencies used were each county and city, which were deemed to be constituencies for the purpose of the poll. Usually in Irish referendums the general election constituencies are used.

References

  1. "Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution (No. 2) Bill, 1999: Second Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. 11 May 1999. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  2. "Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution (No. 2) Bill, 1999: Committee and Remaining Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 12 May 1999. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  3. "Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution (No. 2) Bill, 1999: Report and Final Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 12 May 1999. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  4. "S.I. No. 114/1999 - Referendum Commission (Establishment) Order, 1999." Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  5. "Referendum Act, 1998". Irish Statute Book. 26 February 1998. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  6. 1 2 "Referendum Results 1937–2015" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 23 August 2016. p. 62. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
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