‘Pre-approval’ of messages

President’s comments must be discussed

Sir, – Joe Ahern indicates that if a political presidency is sought, then it should be undertaken by constitutional amendment (Letters , October 24th).

It is interesting to note that when Article 13.7 of the Constitution was created in 1937, it gave the ability for the president to give a message or address to the nation after consultation with the Council of State and the Government.

The original intention of the Irish language version of Article 13.7 indicates that the Government must be satisfied beforehand with a significant message the president gives, which would be heard by the country at large. Arguably, this constitutional provision could still technically include the necessity for presidential remarks to be re-approved when the president, for example, makes a foreign policy intervention that is televised by the national broadcaster RTÉ or otherwise.

Article 13.7.2 was amended in 1941 to replace the word “teachtaireacht” (meaning message) where it was indicated that the then taoiseach Éamon de Valera (later to become president) held concerns that this term would necessitate pre-screening of any kind of message the president would wish to impart by wireless transmission. Nevertheless, the term “teachtaireacht” remains intact in Article 13.7.3 and the term “aitheasc” referring to “address” (to the nation) is also evident.


In comments made to The Irish Times President Michael D Higgins appears to indicate that he can intervene in matters of foreign policy (“President reflects ‘will of the people’ in statements on foreign issues”, News, October 21st). As a result the President’s approach should be discussed further within the Council of State and the Government and whether future pre-approval of similar remarks would be warranted. – Yours, etc,


Fine Gael,

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council offices,

Co Dublin.