2011 Irish constitutional referendums

Two constitutional referendums were held simultaneously in Ireland on 27 October 2011, each on a proposed amendment of the Constitution of Ireland.[1] The proposed amendments are on judicial salaries pay cuts, and to provide additional powers to Oireachtas committees.[2][3]

They were held on the same day as the 2011 presidential election and a Dáil by-election in Dublin West. An application to prevent both referendums from going ahead was refused by the Supreme Court on 26 October 2011.[4] The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said the information provided to voters in advance of polling in the two constitutional referendums was "tardy and inadequate".[5]

Twenty-ninth Amendment

The Twenty-ninth Amendment is a proposal to remove the ban on reducing judicial salaries.[6] This became contentious in the context of widespread salary cuts during the Irish financial crisis.

Under the Constitution a judge's salary may not be reduced during their term of office. This is intended to protect the independence of the judiciary and prevent governments from imposing pay cuts as a reprisal for judgments with which they disagree.

The amendment was passed.

Twenty-Ninth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2011[7]
Choice Votes %
Yes 1,393,877 79.74
No 354,134 20.26
Valid votes 1,748,011 97.89
Invalid or blank votes 37,696 2.11
Total votes 1,785,707 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 3,191,157 55.96

Thirtieth Amendment

The Thirtieth Amendment is a proposal to grant full investigative powers to Oireachtas committees investigating matters of public interest.[8]

The Supreme Court of Ireland found the Oireachtas did not have an inherent power to conduct inquiries, and that it overstepped its jurisdiction when it set up the Abbeylara inquiry into the shooting of John Carthy in Abbeylara, County Longford, in 2000.

The amendment was rejected.

Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2011[7]
Choice Votes %
No 928,175 53.34
Yes 812,008 46.66
Valid votes 1,740,183 97.48
Invalid or blank votes 45,025 2.52
Total votes 1,785,208 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 3,191,157 55.94

Referendum Commissions

Separate Referendum Commissions were established for the two referendums, on 5 September for the 29th Amendment and on 13 September for the 30th Amendment.[9] The commissions have the same membership, being chaired by retired judge Bryan McMahon, with ex-officio members the clerks of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, the Ombudsman, and the Comptroller and Auditor General.[9] The dedicated website, www.referendum2011.ie, was set up by the Referendum Commission.

See also


  1. Burke-Kennedy, Eoin (27 July 2011). "Date set for presidential poll". The Irish Times.
  2. Minihan, Mary (15 June 2011). "Judges' pay referendum to take place in October". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  3. Minihan, Mary (11 August 2011). "Broadcasting group seeks feedback on election coverage". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  4. "Supreme Court refuses referendum application". RTÉ News. 26 October 2011.
  5. Edwards, Elaine."Referendum information 'inadequate' - ICCL". The Irish Times. 27 October 2011.
  6. "Judicial pay referendum agreed". The Irish Times. 14 June 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  7. "Referendum Results" (PDF). Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  8. "Referendum on Abbeylara proposed". The Irish Times. 19 April 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  9. "Latest Information". Dublin: Referendum Commission. September 2011. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
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