Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

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Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
To provide that a court could refuse bail in certain circumstances
LocationRepublic of Ireland Ireland
Date28 November 1996 (1996-11-28)
Results
Votes %
Yes 579,740 74.83%
No 194,968 25.17%
Valid votes 774,708 99.63%
Invalid or blank votes 2,878 0.37%
Total votes 777,586 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 2,659,895 29.23%

The Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1996 (previously bill no. 49 of 1996) is an amendment of the Constitution of Ireland which provides that a court can refuse bail to a suspect where it feared that while at liberty they would commit a serious criminal offence. It was approved by referendum on 28 November 1996 and signed into law on 12 December of the same year.

Background[edit]

In People (AG) v O'Callaghan (1966), the Supreme Court had ruled that the provisions of Article 40.4, which guarantees personal liberty and the principle of habeas corpus, meant that an individual charged with a crime could only be refused bail if they were likely to flee or to interfere with witnesses or evidence.

A Law Reform Commission report published in August 1995 and chaired by former Supreme Court judge Anthony Hederman considered legal approaches to bail.[1] The Sixteenth Amendment made it possible for a court to take into account whether or not a person had committed serious crimes while on bail in the past. The amendment was introduced by the Fine GaelLabour PartyDemocratic Left government led by Taoiseach John Bruton.

Changes to the text[edit]

Insertion of new Article 40.4.7º:

Provision may be made by law for the refusal of bail by a court to a person charged with a serious offence where it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent the commission of a serious offence by that person.

Note: This provision was renumbered as 40.4.6º by the Twenty-first Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland in 2002.

Oireachtas debate[edit]

A similar proposal had been proposed by Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson John O'Donoghue on 8 June 1995.[2] On 4 October 1995, this was rejected by 65 votes to 47.[3]

On 16 October 1996, Minister for Justice Nora Owen proposed the Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1996.[4] It was supported by the two major opposition parties, Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, and passed final stages in the Dáil on the same day.[5] It passed final stages in the Seanad on 23 October and proceeded to a referendum on 28 November 1996.[6]

Result[edit]

Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum[7]
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Yes 579,740 74.83
No 194,968 25.17
Valid votes 774,708 99.63
Invalid or blank votes 2,878 0.37
Total votes 777,586 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 2,659,895 29.23
Results by constituency[7]
Constituency Electorate Turnout (%) Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
Carlow–Kilkenny 85,589 30.1% 19,413 6,242 75.7% 24.3%
Cavan–Monaghan 81,466 24.4% 14,573 5,201 73.7% 26.3%
Clare 68,641 27.0% 13,626 4,828 73.9% 26.1%
Cork East 61,966 31.5% 14,368 5,114 73.8% 26.2%
Cork North-Central 70,935 28.4% 13,753 6,348 68.5% 31.5%
Cork North-West 46,310 33.8% 11,722 3,857 75.3% 24.7%
Cork South-Central 81,420 33.3% 18,822 8,183 69.7% 30.3%
Cork South-West 46,607 32.2% 11,323 3,631 75.8% 24.2%
Donegal North-East 50,366 18.0% 5,818 3,191 64.6% 35.4%
Donegal South-West 50,677 18.4% 6,289 2,992 67.8% 32.2%
Dublin Central 59,526 29.7% 12,361 5,267 70.2% 29.8%
Dublin North 69,954 32.2% 17,388 5,129 77.3% 22.7%
Dublin North-Central 63,725 37.1% 17,548 6,066 74.4% 25.6%
Dublin North-East 58,653 33.5% 14,967 4,644 76.4% 23.6%
Dublin North-West 55,794 31.1% 12,827 4,453 74.3% 25.7%
Dublin South 88,699 35.8% 23,388 8,288 73.9% 26.1%
Dublin South-Central 59,930 34.2% 15,088 5,316 74.0% 26.0%
Dublin South-East 64,134 30.6% 12,620 6,917 64.6% 35.4%
Dublin South-West 74,176 26.9% 15,324 4,611 76.9% 23.1%
Dublin West 65,235 27.5% 14,095 3,792 78.9% 21.1%
Dún Laoghaire 89,767 34.5% 21,646 9,216 70.2% 29.8%
Galway East 44,108 25.6% 9,007 2,216 80.3% 19.7%
Galway West 84,202 24.6% 15,256 5,363 74.0% 26.0%
Kerry North 50,303 25.7% 9,314 3,523 72.6% 27.4%
Kerry South 46,459 26.9% 9,170 3,287 73.7% 26.3%
Kildare 85,932 28.7% 19,171 5,415 78.0% 22.0%
Laois–Offaly 82,054 28.9% 18,007 5,612 76.3% 23.7%
Limerick East 74,746 29.8% 17,472 4,764 78.6% 21.4%
Limerick West 46,385 28.5% 10,468 2,648 79.9% 20.1%
Longford–Roscommon 62,324 29.5% 14,714 3,561 80.6% 19.4%
Louth 69,725 26.1% 13,445 4,634 74.4% 25.6%
Mayo East 44,474 25.4% 8,897 2,356 79.1% 20.9%
Mayo West 46,368 25.3% 9,018 2,686 77.1% 22.9%
Meath 85,805 27.3% 18,020 5,265 77.4% 22.6%
Sligo–Leitrim 62,433 28.3% 13,502 4,105 76.7% 23.3%
Tipperary North 44,488 32.3% 11,112 3,187 77.8% 22.2%
Tipperary South 59,120 31.8% 14,492 4,253 77.4% 22.6%
Waterford 67,002 27.0% 13,209 4,830 73.3% 26.7%
Westmeath 46,925 28.3% 10,177 3,059 76.9% 23.1%
Wexford 81,251 29.4% 19,002 4,781 79.9% 20.1%
Wicklow 82,221 31.2% 19,378 6,137 76.0% 24.0%
Total 2,659,895 29.2% 579,740 194,968 74.8% 25.2%

Aftermath[edit]

The Bail Act 1997 was passed as the provision to be made by law arising from the amendment.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Report: An examination of the law of bail". Law Reform Commission. August 1995. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1995: First Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Private Members' Business - Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1995: Second Stage (Resumed)". Houses of the Oireachtas. 4 October 1995. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1996: Second Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. 16 October 1996. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1996: Committee and Final Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 16 October 1996. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1996: Committee and Final Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 23 October 1996. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Referendum Results 1937–2015" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 23 August 2016. p. 54. Retrieved 21 May 2018.

External links[edit]