Call McGarr Solicitors on: 01 6351580

Home » Blog » Constitutional Law


Ireland has declared for itself a position of neutrality in selected international conflicts

More importantly, the Constitution of Ireland provides in Article 28(3):

“1° War shall not be declared and the State shall not participate in any war save with the assent of Dáil Éireann.”

Bankrupting the nation aside, it is difficult to know of a more important matter, upon which the Government ought to be restrained, than engaging in a war without the consent of the Dail.

It is alarming therefore to consider what transpired in Dubsky Government of Ireland [2005] IEHC 442

The Applicant applied for Judicial Review of the facilities at Shannon Airport extended by Ireland to the USA for the supply of US armed forces in Afghanistan. He pleaded that these facilities were in breach of Article 28 (3).

The court declined to grant the order sought stating, inter alia,:

“Having regard to the absence of any clear line of authority as to the correct or appropriate legal definition of war, or as to what constitutes participation in any such war, or even as to what consequences flow from the failure to comply with invoked principles of international law on issues of neutrality, it is wholly appropriate that courts should adopt the same highly restrained approach to the question of whether and in what circumstances the executive arm of a government should take decisions relating to war or armed conflict or hostilities of whatever nature.”

Of course, Article 28 (3) is out of date; no State actor in international affairs follows the convention and legal obligation to “declare” war – they just wage it. Nevertheless, as a purely internal Irish affair, to take a hands-off approach to Executive action on such a question, where the Executive can seek the assent of the Dail, but does not, is not in the national interest.