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Recognising Freedom of Thought in Irish Constitutional Law

In: European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance
Author: Maria Cahill1
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  • 1 Professor of Law, School of Law, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, maria.cahill@ucc.ie
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Abstract

Recent technological advances have made clear that the law needs to take a stance in relation to freedom of thought. Although there is no formal recognition of freedom of thought in the text of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, I will argue that such a right does exist in Irish law on the basis of both implicit and initial explicit recognition for freedom of thought in the decisions of the superior courts. Part 2 lays out the ways in which freedom of thought is implicitly recognised in the Irish legal system, both through the protection of other constitutional rights and through the place of international law in the Irish legal order. Part 3 takes the analysis a step further, using the doctrine of unenumerated rights (a peculiarity of Irish constitutional law) to spotlight an overlooked Supreme Court judgment in which the right to freedom of thought has been judicially recognised in the absence of a textual mandate in the Constitution. It then proceeds to shore up arguments in favour of such recognition, arguing that protecting freedom of thought is a good thing, because it honours human freedom and human dignity.

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