Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1968

The Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1968 was a bill (no. 5 of 1968) to amend the Constitution of Ireland to change the criteria for redistribution of constituencies for elections to Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas. The proposal was rejected in a referendum held on 16 October 1968.

Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1968
16 October 1968 (1968-10-16)

To change the criteria for redistribution of constituencies for Dáil elections
LocationRepublic of Ireland Ireland
Results
Response Votes %
Yes 424,185 39.24%
No 656,803 60.76%
Valid votes 1,080,988 95.71%
Invalid or blank votes 48,489 4.29%
Total votes 1,129,477 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 1,717,389 65.77%

Proposed changes to the textEdit

The change proposed to change the text of Article 16.2.3º from:[1]

The ratio between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency and the population of each constituency, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, so far as it is practicable, be the same throughout the country.

to:[2]

A determination of constituencies shall be so effected that if with respect to each of the constituencies, the number of members to be elected for it is divided into its population (as ascertained at the census immediately preceding the determination) none of the quotients shall be greater, or less, than the average obtained by dividing the total population, as ascertained at the immediately preceding census, by the total number of members of Dáil Éireann by more than one-sixth of that average.[3]

A determination of constituencies shall not be effected during a period beginning on the date of a census and ending on the date of the publication of the relevant results (not being provisional results) thereof, and, if the latest time for effecting such a determination falls during such a period and the determination is not effected before the period begins, it shall, notwithstanding anything in this Article, be effected as soon as may be after the period ends.[4]

Subject to the foregoing requirement of this sub-section, regard shall be had at a determination of constituencies to the extent and accessibility of constituencies and the need for securing convenient areas of representation and, subject to those considerations, to the desirability of avoiding the overlapping by constituencies of the boundaries of Administrative Counties (other than boundaries between those Counties and County Boroughs).

In the information supplied to voters, the subject matter of the referendum was described as follows:[5]

The Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968, proposes – that in forming Dáil constituencies, the population per deputy in any case may not be greater or less than the national average by more than one-sixth and that regard must be had to the extent and accessibility of constituencies, the need for having convenient areas of representation and the desirability of avoiding the over-lapping of county boundaries.

BackgroundEdit

John O'Donovan, a Fine Gael TD, challenged the Electoral Amendment Act 1959, which had been passed by a previous Fianna Fáil government, on the basis that there were "grave inequalities" with "no relevant circumstances to justify" them.[6] In O'Donovan v. Attorney-General (1961), the Supreme Court held that the Act was unconstitutional and suggested that the ratio of representation to population across constituencies should differ by no more than 5%. The court, interpreting the "so far as it is practicable" condition of the Constitution, suggested a 5% variation as the limit without exceptional circumstances.[7]

The Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1968 proposed to specify more precisely the system of apportionment in the drawing of constituency boundaries. It would have permitted rural constituencies to elect a disproportionate number of TDs, thus allowing a degree of malapportionment. The intention was to favour rural areas which had been prone to depopulation; Fianna Fáil had a support base among the "small farmers" affected by this.

The government introduced the Fourth Amendment Bill 1968 in parallel, which would have replaced the electoral system for elections to the Dáil from proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote with the first-past-the-post voting system (FPTP) based on single-seat constituencies. A proposed constitutional amendment to introduce FPTP had been proposed by a previous Fianna Fáil government in 1959, and had been rejected in a referendum by 51.8% to 48.2%. The opposition parties Fine Gael and Labour Party described the two bills in 1968 as a combined attempt by Fianna Fáil to rig the electoral system in its favour.

Oireachtas debateEdit

The Amendment was proposed in the Dáil by Taoiseach Jack Lynch on 21 February 1968.[8] It passed its Second Reading on 3 April by 72 votes to 59.[9] It passed final stages in the Dáil on 20 June.[10] On 30 July 1968, it passed final stages in the Seanad by 26 votes to 17.[11] Referendums on both the Third Amendment Bill and the Fourth Amendment Bill were held on 16 October 1968.

ResultEdit

The Third Amendment Bill was rejected by 656,803 (60.8%) against to 424,185 (39.2%) in favour; the Fourth Amendment, which would have altered the voting system, was rejected by a similar margin.

Third Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland Bill 1968[12]
Choice Votes %
  No 656,803 60.76
Yes 424,185 39.24
Valid votes 1,080,988 95.71
Invalid or blank votes 48,489 4.29
Total votes 1,129,477 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 1,717,389 65.77
Results by constituency[12]
Constituency Electorate Turnout (%) Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
Carlow–Kilkenny 58,039 71.4% 15,552 23,397 39.9% 60.1%
Cavan 33,996 70.8% 9,706 13,225 42.3% 57.7%
Clare 48,008 62.7% 14,323 13,996 50.6% 49.4%
Cork Borough 59,607 66.2% 14,954 23,229 39.2% 60.8%
Cork Mid 51,423 72.2% 14,446 21,326 40.4% 59.6%
Cork North-East 59,515 70.9% 16,789 23,649 41.5% 58.5%
Cork South-West 34,625 69.9% 8,823 14,121 38.5% 61.5%
Donegal North-East 34,698 66.6% 11,440 10,658 51.8% 48.2%
Donegal South-West 35,596 62.2% 10,744 10,340 51.0% 49.0%
Dublin County 77,837 63.4% 15,755 32,073 32.9% 67.1%
Dublin North-Central 37,771 57.9% 5,804 15,353 27.4% 72.6%
Dublin North-East 80,453 65.9% 15,888 36,150 30.5% 69.5%
Dublin North-West 41,984 61.0% 7,429 17,656 29.6% 70.4%
Dublin South-Central 52,371 57.6% 8,407 20,696 28.9% 71.1%
Dublin South-East 41,190 63.9% 7,557 18,240 29.3% 70.7%
Dublin South-West 57,590 59.6% 9,726 23,633 29.2% 70.8%
Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown 62,723 63.4% 11,677 27,349 29.9% 70.1%
Galway East 53,105 62.6% 14,716 16,643 46.9% 53.1%
Galway West 33,722 52.7% 8,652 8,477 50.5% 49.5%
Kerry North 34,785 64.1% 9,264 11,880 43.8% 56.2%
Kerry South 35,323 66.1% 10,706 11,535 48.1% 51.9%
Kildare 46,099 66.9% 11,607 17,906 39.3% 60.7%
Laois–Offaly 55,879 66.9% 14,163 21,345 39.9% 60.1%
Limerick East 46,883 67.2% 11,245 18,701 37.6% 62.4%
Limerick West 33,546 72.4% 11,253 11,905 48.6% 51.4%
Longford–Westmeath 43,795 67.8% 10,714 17,309 38.2% 61.8%
Louth 37,781 66.9% 9,738 14,495 40.2% 59.8%
Mayo North 30,802 53.8% 7,220 8,497 45.9% 54.1%
Mayo South 41,324 62.2% 10,604 13,963 43.2% 56.8%
Meath 36,192 68.5% 9,499 14,037 40.4% 59.6%
Monaghan 32,580 69.8% 8,744 12,862 40.5% 59.5%
Roscommon 42,971 69.2% 11,637 16,243 41.7% 58.3%
Sligo–Leitrim 42,362 65.8% 11,101 15,000 42.5% 57.5%
Tipperary North 34,076 70.9% 9,606 13,179 42.2% 57.8%
Tipperary South 46,045 74.0% 14,803 17,534 45.8% 54.2%
Waterford 37,519 69.7% 10,360 14,551 41.6% 58.4%
Wexford 48,050 69.6% 11,433 20,542 35.8% 64.2%
Wicklow 37,124 65.3% 8,100 15,108 34.9% 65.1%
Total 1,717,389 65.8% 424,185 656,803 39.2% 60.8%

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

SourcesEdit

  • Department of the Taoiseach (1968). Third amendment of the Constitution bill 1968: as passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas (PDF). Dublin: Stationery Office. Retrieved 1 February 2020 – via Oireachtas library.
  • "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1968 (Bill 5 of 1968)". Oireachtas debates. Retrieved 1 February 2020.

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ "Constitution of Ireland". Irish Statute Book. pp. Article 16.2.3º. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Second Stage (Resumed)". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 21 March 1968. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Committee Stage". 15 May 1968. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage". Dáil Éireann debates. 20 June 1968. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Referendum (Amendment) Act, 1968". 6 August 1968. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  6. ^ Coakley, John. "Constituency boundary revision and seat redistribution in the Irish parliamentary tradition" (PDF). Administration. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration. 28 (3): 305–7.
  7. ^ "O'Donovan v Attorney General". Irish Reports: 114. 1961.
  8. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: First Stage". 21 February 1968. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Second Stage (Resumed)". 3 April 1968. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage". 20 June 1968. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Final Stage". 30 July 1968. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Referendum Results 1937–2015" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. p. 23. Retrieved 12 April 2018.

External linksEdit