Hugh Linehan: What’s wrong with calling this country the Republic of Ireland?

The Constitution is clear: the country’s name is Éire in Irish or Ireland in English

In 1937, the Constitution established the name of this country as Éire in Irish and Ireland in English. Photograph: Niall Carroll

In 1937, the Constitution established the name of this country as Éire in Irish and Ireland in English. Photograph: Niall Carroll

What do we call this place we live in? Writers to the letters page of The Irish Times this week have been exercised by President Michael D Higgins’s objection to being referred to by unionists as President of the Republic of Ireland. “I am President of Ireland”, he told our political correspondent Harry McGee.

As you would expect, the President is absolutely correct about his own job title. In 1937, the Constitution established the name of this country as Éire in Irish and Ireland in English, superseding the previous Irish Free State created in 1922. A decade later, legislation formally declaring Ireland a republic muddied the waters a bit by declaring that “the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland”, but was careful not to unconstitutionally rename it thus.

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