Brexit: Now as clear as mud

(Cross post from the Irish Politics Forum)


So the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the EU will see to remove any vestiges of the United Kingdom with as much haste as a fractious domestic separation.Well no, it’s not going to be that simple.

First, the United Kingdom does not have a written constitution like Ireland. When we make a decision we vote on a proposal to amend the constitution which has legal weight set out in both the constitution itself and supporting legislation, namely the referendum act. When we make a decision it is binding. If the powers that be don’t like it. They must ask us to vote again almost like Mrs. Doyle in Father Ted, did we really, really, really mean to vote that way and can you vote again? Ah go on, go on go on… etc. Whereas a referendum in the UK has all the legal weight of a buzzfeed poll albeit a very expensive nationally structured poll. Referendums in the UK are a sentiment exercise. The fact that they are not presented with a proposal to amend any form of a written constitution means that there will be political weight behind the  resulting decision but it is only a guide. The UK constitution is more of a book of traditions and hence there is an ability to have a constitutional crisis in the UK as it means that the rule book has gone out the window due to events.

Second, and as highlighted in a House of Lords Report, devolution has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons. The report from the House of Lords European Union Committee “The Process of Withdrawing from the European Community” which was published on the 4th May 2016 argues that it would be necessary for each devolved legislature (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) to give legislative consent to amending the founding legislation, for example the Scotland Act, to remove references to European Union Membership. This is stated on page 19 of the report:

The role of the devolved legislatures in implementing the withdrawal agreement

70. We asked Sir David whether he thought the Scottish Parliament would have to give its consent to measures extinguishing the application of EU law in Scotland. He noted that such measures would entail amendment of section 29 of the Scotland Act 1998, which binds the Scottish Parliament to act in a manner compatible with EU law, and he therefore believed that the Scottish Parliament’s consent would be required.83 He could envisage certain political advantages being drawn from not giving consent.84

71. We note that the European Communities Act is also entrenched in the devolution settlements of Wales and Northern Ireland. Though we have taken no evidence on this specific point, we have no reason to believe that the requirement for legislative consent for its repeal would not apply to all the devolved nations.

Considering the split in the vote between Remain and Leave between Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England this could create a legally complex and politically interesting impediment to a straightforward exercise of the Article 50 procedures to leave the EU.

So if you thought it was a process of vote, negotiate and leave, then think again!


SLS Media & Communications Section: Call for Papers 2014

Media law and ethics

The Society of Legal Scholars has opened its call for papers for the Media & Communications section of the 2014 SLS Annual Conference, to be held at the University of Nottingham from 9th – 12th September.

Full details can be found here on section convener Daithí Mac Síthigh’s blog.

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Inaccurate, untested and uncorrected: another weak and inadequate PCC adjudication

Inforrm's Blog

pcc The Press Complaints Commission (“PCC”) rarely makes adjudications on complaints. Only seven have been published in 2014.  Bearing in mind the fact that the PCC staff and procedures seem likely to be transferred wholesale to the successor body, IPSO, it is worth scrutinising adjudications with some care. 

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Are corporations people?

Excellent post considering that corporations in Ireland can use Defamation Law since the 2009 Act.

Edinburgh Eye

Corporations Are Not People The legal definition of a corporation in the UK is:

a body of persons authorised by law to act as one person, and having rights and liabilities distinct from the individuals who are forming the corporation.

A corporation can own property, do business, pays taxes – well, sometimes – be sued, sue individuals and other corporations, and though it can’t be born or die, a corporation usually has a definite beginning and can come to a definite end. A corporation doesn’t have a passport: it may be registered in just one country, but it can exist in many.

But no matter how many legal rights and powers a corporation may acquire, there are things it cannot do: it cannot vote in most democratic electionsthough the richer the corporation is, the more it is likely to get its way regardless of democracy; it cannot have sex or experience…

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Arthur’s Day: Stop Blaming Diageo for our own National Problems!

We live in a country, as the joke goes, where saying that someone is a bit fond of the drink is short hand for their chronic alcoholism. Yes, Ireland as a country has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in Europe. We accept this. However, blaming a sponsored night of drinking and music for all that ails our society, is a slightly immature take on the issue.


Surely, if this was the case, we should also blame the Government for Christmas, St. Patricks Day, Bank Holiday weekends and Halloween. Heaven forbid that Met Éireann should forecast a sunny afternoon and we all head to the Beer Gardens. We should also blame colleges and the USI for Fresher’s Week, Rag Week, end of exams and results night. Following that logic, we should also blame the Department of Education for Leaving Certificate results night, Junior Certificate Results night and End of Exams nights. 


The problem is not the event but society’s acceptance of drinking to excess on a a regular basis being acceptable. For example, if I decide not to drink alcohol on a night, there are more questions about myself than is normal. Am I not feeling well, is there something going on etc. So it is more accepted in society to drink rather than have a soft drink night. Many people I know choose not to drink. The general chatter about these people is trying to figure out why they don’t drink. It’s none of their business. 


Yes, there will be an influx of persons who should know better to A&E and the morning after will be littered with many empty desks in workplaces due to a sudden onset of “colds” and “food poisoning”. However, Diageo is not making us drink: it’s ourselves. Let’s collective grow up on this issue and start looking at ourselves and the culture that we perpetuate when it comes to the consumption of alcohol in this country.