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3 The Supreme Court and the Irish Free State

From: The Irish Supreme Court: Historical and Comparative Perspectives

Brice Dickson

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 03 December 2023

This chapter considers the performance of the Irish Supreme Court during the life of the Irish Free State (1922–37). It charts the way in which the right to appeal from the Supreme Court to the Privy Council was abolished (comparing the position in other Dominions) and shows that, despite the rhetoric of Irish politicians at the time, the judges were keen to uphold the British approach to the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. The chapter then describes some of the emergency legislation enacted in the Free State to combat republican violence and examines how it was viewed by the Supreme Court, most notably in the very deferential (albeit split) decision in The State (Ryan) v Lennon. The chapter sums up the Court’s performance during the existence of the Irish Free State as disappointing and uninspiring.

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