Section 7 : Constitutional and Legal Changes before and after a referendum

Please see below summary to Section 7 of the report “Constitutional and Legal Changes before and after a referendum”, Section 7 in full is available at the link

Section 7 Constitutional & Legal Changes Before and After a Referendum


High Court Justice Humphreys states

“It is a matter of political judgement as to whether and to what extent to hold off all legal

or constitutional change until after the achievement of the reunification of the island of


In this section of the report we highlight the analysis of High Court Justice Richard

Humphreys work in ‘Countdown to Unity’ on the Constitutional, Legal and other

changes that could or should take place before or after unification. The ratification

and the implementation process of the referendum result is outlined. The issue of

the continuation of the Northern Assembly after a referendum under the Good Friday

Agreement is analysed, as are some of the flaws of the Good Friday Agreement as

seen by Justice Humphreys. Development of the institutional architecture of the Good

Friday Agreement after a referendum is examined, as is North-South & East-West

infrastructure. Three different options are outlined by High Court Justice Humphreys

as to how to deal with the issue of pre-existing Northern Ireland legislation in a postreferendum


The replacement of pre-existing legislation with Britain including the Act of Union by a

new comprehensive treaty is outlined by Justice Humphreys. Also outlined are the legal

changes with the EU and the consequences for International treaties signed by Ireland

and the UK.

The challenge of uniting people as explained by John Hume is chartered by Justice

Humphreys with the necessity of confidence measure by the Irish side. These include

broadening the constitutional definition of citizenship to include the British identity on

the island, giving rights to vote and to run for elected office to citizens who choose a

British identity as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement is summarised and the

need to remove the legal sectarianism of the British state, among which would be the

Coronation Oath Act. Justice Humphreys findings of Unionism view of representation

for Northern Ireland politicians in the current Dáil Eireann are outlined. The merits of

‘Gesture Politics’ on issues such as the Irish Language, the National Flag and Anthem

is considered not necessarily to be a bad thing, Humphreys argues, if the gesture

can be shown to have achieved something. Dr Martin Manseragh has described an

Brexit and the future of Ireland

2 | The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday agreement

approach where by the traditions of both communities are accommodated as ‘we need

not lessen our loyalties as we broaden our sympathies’

We have included:

Union of Ireland Act 1800

Government of Ireland Act, 1920

Treaty of 1921

The Republic of Ireland Act, 1948

The Sunningdale Agreement 1973

New Ireland Forum Report 1984

Anglo-Irish Agreement 1985

Downing Street Declaration 1993

The Good Friday Agreement 1998


The Government needs to carry out an audit in relation to the legal and

constitutional changes pre and post-unification.

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