War and the Constitution


A chara, – Many commentators in the media (including social media) support the notion that the leader of Sinn Féin should be elected as taoiseach. In answer to questions about possible links between her party and the campaign of violence of the Provisional IRA she has repeatedly said that “the war is over”.

It is surely reasonable to ask the putative taoiseach: “What war are you talking about?”

I am not a supporter of Sinn Féin, though I recognise their important contribution to the peace process.I ask this question as a citizen, not out of hostile or satirical or pedantic intent, but because it simply cannot be evaded at this point.The Constitution, which as taoiseach she would be expected to uphold, is explicitly and repeatedly categorical on questions of war. Some examples: Article 9.3 (duty of the citizen to uphold the State); Article 13.5, 1 and 2 (command of Defence Forces); Article 15.6. 1 and 6.2 (Oireachtas alone has right to raise military forces); Article 28.3 (assent of Dáil Éireann necessary for declaration of war); Article 29.2 ( pacific settlement of international disputes), and Article 39 (defines treason as inter alia attempting to overthrow the State by force of arms or conspiracy to do so).

It would be grotesque if a credible candidate for taoiseach were incapable of subscribing without reservation to these starkly unambiguous provisions of the Constitution. She may not believe this but I heartily pray that she will be able to do so. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.