The financial crisis as a turning point for constitutional rights jurisprudence: an assessment of the absence of social rights protection in the Irish Constitution

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In 2008, Ireland faced an economic crisis without parallel in its recent history. To address this crisis, a large programme of financial assistance was obtained from the European Union and the IMF, and the Irish government set about the process of reforming the structure and financing of social security benefits and the healthcare system to ameliorate the effects of the crisis. While much can be said about the legislative reforms, their rationale, necessity, and impact, this chapter addresses the legacy of the crisis on the Irish constitutional system and, particularly, on the Irish constitutional protection of social rights (or lack thereof). Following an analysis of the limited case law surrounding the reforms imposed during the economic crisis, it is contended that the economic crisis had the effect of highlighting the lack of explicit constitutional protection of social rights, a deficiency which in turn created an opportunity for the utilisation of other existing and emerging constitutional rights. While the future of social rights in the Irish Constitution is still unclear, it is evident that the economic crisis has left an indelible mark on the Irish constitutional landscape.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean welfare state constitutions after the financial crisis
EditorsUlrich Becker, Anastasia Poulou
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198851776
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2020