EIRE NUA - FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
The concept on which Eire Nua is based, that of a unitary federation of the four historic provinces under the coordination of a national parliament, would foster a true democracy and eliminate the causes for conflict, such as Ireland has experienced for the past eight hundred years. The Eire Nua constitution with its Charter of Rights would guarantee all of Ireland's people true freedom, a home for its children and a new beginning
The Constitution as envisioned in the Eire Nua program would embody the intent of the 1916 Proclamation as well as the following fundamental principles;
1) a Charter of Rights,
2) Separation of Church and State,
3) an independent Judicial System, and
4) new Government Structure.
The first fundamental principle, a Charter of ,Rights, would be based on the premise that recognizes the fundamental dignity and importance of the individual, who at birth is endowed with a basic right to be treated as a unique and inviolable human being. Based on this premise the Charter of Rights would guarantee the right to life, liberty and security of person. It would also guarantee the rights of citizenship, civil rights, property rights equal rights, workers rights and equal protection under the law. It would prohibit the government from granting unto itself special powers that can be used against the people.
The second fundamental principle, Separation of Church and State, would prohibit the government from supporting, promoting or granting special status to any religion over another or to any individual over another because of religious beliefs or affiliations. It would guarantee the right to hold any or no religious belief without prejudice in either the public or private arena. It would also guarantee that religious morality is not legislated to the detriment of nonconformists or others with differing values.
The third fundamental principle, an Independent Judicial System, would guarantee judicial safeguards including the power of judicial review. The Supreme Court in its role as head of an independent judicial system and guardian of the Constitution, would ensure that the government cannot circumvent the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, for political or any other reason. The second most important role of an independent Judiciary would be to ensure that a court of law remains a neutral arena in which the protagonists, the accused and the accuser can argue before an impartial arbiter, and that the verdict is based on all of the evidence and rendered by a jury of peers.
The fourth fundamental principle, new Government Structure, would be based on a federation of the four provinces under the coordination of a national parliament with powers devolved through regional administrative councils to local bodies, so that at all levels citizens may have an effective voice in their own governance. All levels of government would receive their powers from the people, whose representatives would be elected by the suffrage of the adult population. The national parliament would be the supreme authority in exercising those powers solely delegated to it by the Constitution.
A CHARTER OF RIGHTS
Many countries that subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights interpret its meaning in narrow self-serving terms. According to reports published by Amnesty International, Helsinki Watch, Asia Watch and the US State Department, approximately one third of the U.N. member states are guilty, to varying degrees, of human rights abuses. One would not expect England and Ireland to fall into this category. Unfortunately they do, as both have enacted laws that contravene provisions of the European Court for the Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedom. A review of the repressive laws enacted by both government's show a remarkable similarity in content and timing. It appears as if their efforts were coordinated and directed against those who would challenge or attempt to change the immoral partition of Ireland. It's estimated that close to one million people in both England and Ireland have been victims of these repressive laws.
The political leaders of the eviscerated state of Northern Ireland, realizing that their only hope of maintaining control over the rump state was by repressive means, enacted as their first piece of legislation the infamous Special Powers Act of 1922. This draconian piece of legislation gave the police extreme powers to arrest without warrant, and incarcerate without trial, any Catholic they classified as a "political suspect". In 1973 the Special Powers Act was repeated and replaced by the Emergency Act. This Act retained most of the repressive sections of the 1922 Act. Amongst other measures, the Emergency Act provided for non-jury courts, arrest without warrant, interrogation without an attorney present and internment without trial. As a consequence of the atrocities committed under these repressive Acts, the European Court of Human Rights in 1978 found the British guilty of "inhuman and degrading treatment". Amnesty International in its 1978 report on human rights found that "systematic brutality" was used in Castlereagh Police Barracks during interrogations.
The Irish Free State has been just as brutal to its political dissidents as has the Northern Ireland State The pro-Treaty government, at the onset of the civil war in 1922, set up military tribunals to sanction the execution of Republican prisoners of war. Also, in a blatant affront to human rights and the rules of war, they summarily executed Republican prisoners in reprisal for military attacks on their forces. Again, in 1931 the Free State government set up a Special Powers Tribunal to silence Republican activists as they had done in 1922. Eight years later in 1939, in response to an IRA campaign in England, the Free State government enacted the Offenses against the State Act, which as in 1922 and 1931 provided for military tribunals that again sanctioned the imprisonment and execution of Republicans. In subsequent years the Special Powers Act was amended to circumvent the rules of evidence, impose censorship, arrest without warrant, detain incommunicado, interrogate without an attorney present and incarcerate without trial political and civil rights activists and others whom the government wanted silenced. As a result, the Free State government was criticized and reprimanded by the European Court of Human Rights for the use of such repressive measures against its citizens, a reprimand they choose to ignore.
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
The Separation of Church and State is essential for achieving a just and lasting peace in Ireland and is central to Eire Nua. The lessons of history require that. Ireland today is a multi-cultural pluralistic society that must cater equally to all its citizens irrespective of their religious affiliations. Religious freedom will be protected under the Eire Nua constitution. Organized religion will be free to prorogate and grow and the individual will be free to join or remain apart. Religion will not dabble in politics nor will the government use religion to advance their political agendas.
Since organized religion was first established the relationship between Church and State has been uneasy if not downright contentious. These relations first became a serious problem in the latter days of the Roman Empire when Christianity became the State religion. As the authority of the Roman Empire waned, popes took over the universal authority of the Emperor's and the Episcopal Hierarchy filled the void of collapsing Imperial Administrations. When the Roman Empire finally collapsed the Christian Church took its place and nearly all of Europe's rulers submitted to its power and authority.
At the height of papal supremacy in the Middle Ages Pope Boniface VIII, who reigned from 1294 to 1203, issued a papal decree declaring that the pope should have a voice in civil as well as religious affairs? This decree angered civil authorities. In reprisal, King Philip of France used his influence to have a French archbishop elected to succeed Boniface VIII. The new pope, Clement V, moved the papal residence to Avignon in France and appointed only French cardinals. The now polarized Papacy remained in France during the reign of seven French popes. The seeds of dissension sown during this period set in motion a series of divisive events culmination in the Great Schism of the West. The schism, which lasted for forty years, resulted in competing popes and cardinals, who were supported and used by feuding European rules to further their own particular agendas. The ensuing abuse and misuse of ecclesiastical powers led to the Reformation of 1517, a revolution within the Roman Church that gave birth to Protestantism.
The quest for power and supremacy between the Church of Rome and the civil authorities in Europe was felt in Ireland. The Reformation divided the Christian church and pitted the countries of Europe against each other. As the consequence of a rift between King Henry VIII and Pope Clement VII over the question of supremacy, Protestantism became the state religion in England. Remaining true to their beliefs the Irish people sided with the Church of Rome.
After the defeat of the Catholic armies at the battles of the Boyne and Aughrin in 1690, the English enacted a series of repressive anti-Catholic laws. These laws, collectively known as the Penal Laws, deprived Catholics of their religious freedom, political and property rights. Catholic colleges were closed and priests were not allowed to attend to their flock. Property owners who refused to convert to Protestantism were classified as disloyal and summarily dispossessed of their lands. Protestant settlers were brought in from Scotland and England and given the lands and possessions taken from the native Irish property owners. Religion became a powerful weapon to suppress the Irish people and formed the basis for the 'divide and rule' doctrine used by the English down through the centuries to rule and control the Irish people.
After the Reform Act of 1850, which modified the Penal Laws the new face of the Catholic Church was romanistic, authoritarian and determined to enter the political arena to protect its vested interests. Its attitude towards Irish nationalism was adversarial in that it had to compete for the loyalty of the populace. Although some priests were sympathetic and at times joined in the struggle for independence, the hierarchy did not consider Irish independence important or desirable. As repayment to the English for establishing Maynooth College, a seminary for priests, the hierarchy vehemently condemned resistance to English rule. The Church entered the political arena to ensure the downfall of Parnell who posed a constitutional threat to the English. To weaken resistance to English rule they summarily excommunicated all those who took part in the uprisings of 1867 and 1916. They also condemned anti-Treaty forces during the civil war of 1922. To this very day they condemn those who engage in anti-British activities.
AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY
The Eire Nua (Now Ireland) proposal includes as one of its fundamental principles, an independent judicial system. The reason for this is to prevent abuses of governmental powers, common to the present system. Over the years since British rule ended, successive Irish governments have adopted repressive legislation to silence protest and political dissent. The present-day Supreme Court has been reluctant to subject such legislation to judicial review, in fact it has been supportive and a willing party to its implementation.
The Supreme Court would be vested with the judicial power of the nation. The Court would be the final interpreter of the meaning of the Constitution, and as such would exercise the power of judicial review to ensure that legislation and/or the exercise of executive powers would not violate the Constitution. In order to ensure the independence of the Supreme Court under the Eire Nua proposal, the Court would have equal status to the legislative and executive branches of government
As head of an independent judicial system, the Court would be the ultimate tribunal in the nations court system. Within the framework of litigation, the Court would mark the boundaries of authority between the national, provincial and local levels of government, and between the government and the citizen. Nominees to the Supreme Court would be selected by the President and confirmed by the national parliament, Dail Eireann. The term of office for Supreme Court justices would be to mandatory retirement age, unless they are removed from office for cause. Removal from office for cause would be by a two-thirds vote of Dail Eireann.
Appeal Courts would be established at the national level and in each of the provinces to review criminal and civil cases appealed from lower courts, or courts of original jurisdiction. Each of the Courts would consist of at least three sitting judges, to hear and rule on appeals with respect to points of law and rules of evidence.
Nominees to the Court operating at the national level would be selected by the President and confirmed by Dail Eireann. Nominees to the Courts operating at the provincial level would be selected by Provincial Administrators and confirmed by the provincial parliament. The term of office for Appeal Courts judges would be to mandatory retirement age, unless they are re- moved from office for cause. In that case judges operating at the national level would be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of Dail Eireann and judges operating at the provincial level would be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of their respective provincial parliament.
The Central Court system would consist of a Central Criminal Court and an Administrative Court and would be established at the national level. The Central Criminal Court would be the court of original jurisdiction for cases involving civil rights, sedition, extradition, and official corruption. The Administrative Court would rule on issues of administrative law such as consumer protection, taxation, currency, trade and commerce, environmental protection and public safety.
Nominees to the Central Court system would be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Dail Eireann. The term of office for judges would be until they reach mandatory retirement age, unless they are removed from office for cause. Removal from office for cause would be by a two-thirds vote of Dad Eireann.
The Circuit Court system would consist of courts of original jurisdiction operating at the provincial level for criminal, civil and family court cases. In order to bring the judicial system close to the people, courts would be set-up in each of the provinces regions. All cases brought before these courts, with the exception of family court cases, would be tried before a jury of peers.
Nominees to the Circuit Court system would be selected by the Provincial Administrators and confirmed by the respective provincial parliament. The term of office for Circuit Court judges would extend to mandatory retirement age, unless they are removed from office for cause. Removal from office for cause would be two-thirds vote of their respective provincial parliament.
District Courts would be established at the district level to handle misdemeanor cases such as traffic and ordinance violations, punishable by fines and/or loss of driving privileges. These courts would be presided over by magistrates appointed to office by local councils to predetermined terms.
NEW GOVERNMENT STRUCTURES
The proposed government structures will embody a system of power sharing, administered at the national, provincial, regional and district government levels. This system will ensure maximum distribution of government powers and will accommodate the unique and distinctive character of each of the historic provinces. In addition to the above advantages, it grants autonomy to each of the provinces to pursue interests for which they have a natural affinity including cultural, traditional and economic interests
The National Government
Eire Nua (new Ireland) will have a national parliament, Dail Eireann, to which all citizens will give common allegiance. It will embody the unity and sovereignty of the nation as a whole. It will be the supreme national authority, acting in trust for the people with a special duty to uphold the constitution and protect the national interests at home and abroad.
Dail Eireann will be a federal parliament in that it will be drawn from the federation of Ireland's four constituent provinces. It will consist of a single chamber of deputies, 50% elected by direct universal suffrage and 50% in equal numbers from each provincial parliament. Their actions will be governed by the constitution. The federal parliament will be responsible for electing a President who will serve as both prime minister and head of state, confirm government ministers nominated by the President, initiate and enact legislation, and approve the national budget.
The national administration will manage the affairs of state as mandated by national legislation. It will do so through its governmental departments. As administrative responsibilities will reside with different levels of government, the national government's authority will be limited to those affairs that reside at the national level, including defense, external affairs, financial affairs and the judicial system.
Provincial Parliaments will be established in each of the provinces. These parliaments will each consist of a single chamber of deputies whose members will be elected by the people of the provinces. Their actions will be governed by the constitution. The function of these parliaments will be to draft rules and regulations to implement legislative mandates, elect members to represent the province in Dail Eireann, elect a provincial administration, initiate legislation, and approve the provincial budget.
Provincial Administrations will be responsible for managing provincial government affairs including natural resources, the environment, energy and communications, trade and commerce, third-level education and cultural affairs.
Regional Boards will be established in each of the provinces. The Boards will be comprised of elected representatives of district councils and expert representatives appointed by the provincial parliament. Regional Boards will be responsible for economic development, regional planning, regionalized health services and cultural development.
District/county Councils will be established in each district/county. Each council will consist of a single chamber of representatives elected by the people of the district/county. Local Councils will be responsible for drafting rules and regulations to implement legislative mandates, and for approving the district budget. Their actions will be governed by the constitution.
District/county Administrators will be responsible for managing local government affairs including law enforcement, employment and work standards, welfare and social services, primary and secondary education, agriculture and fisheries, primary health care, recreation, the environment, public safety, and public housing.
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