Bill Kissane is senior lecturer in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
"New Beginnings" covers Irish constitutional development from Home Rule to the Good Friday Agreement, focusing on turning points where radical constitutional change was discussed, attempted, or implemented. It asks what Irish constitution-makers were trying to do in drafting constitutional documents, or significantly amending existing constitutions. It deals with the 1919, 1922, and 1937 constitutions, debates over the 1937 constitution since 1969, and the 1998 Belfast peace agreement. Taking the relationship between constitutionalism and democracy as its key issue, it asks why Irish politicians have seen constitutions as ways of making democracy more manageable, rather than of furthering democracy. It is intended for students of politics and constitutional law, as well as the general reader, and written in an accessible style that assumes no prior knowledge of Irish constitutional history or law.
- From Home Rule to Sinn Fein
- The 1922 Constitution
- The 1937 Constitution
- The Referendum Process
- The Belfast Agreement
'The author is to be commended for the ambition of his project; the book deals with a number of constitutional loci but contains new insights on all of them. The strength of the book comes primarily from the attention to primary sources in which the author has engaged. The volume will prove a welcome addition to the collections of all those with an interest in Irish constitutional politics.'
'Bill Kissane’s masterful study of Irish constitutionalism takes a dual historical and political scientific perspective to analyse the choices that have determined the kind of constitutional order that exists in contemporary Ireland.
This is an outstanding book. It explains and contextualises the values of the 1937 constitution to a degree that is, to my mind, without precedent.'
Nations and Nationalism
'In normal times, the potential audience for Bill Kissane’s book would probably be limited to academics and those with a real interest in Irish constitutional history. Emerging as it has during the current crisis, with talk of a constitutional convention being mooted by the government, this book would be an effective way for any citizen to evaluate how society’s values are translated into constitutional reality, and how they are not.'
Irish Studies Review 20 (2) 2012
'Bill Kissane’s New Beginnings: Constitutionalism and Democracy in Modern Ireland provides a rich historical overview of Ireland’s twentieth-century constitutional development. The book successfully employs the Irish case to analyse broader empirical, theoretical, and normative issues associated with establishing and preserving effective and stable democratic regimes. … Kissane’s book should be required reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century Irish politics. His analysis of Ireland’s constitutional development raises several themes of relevance for comparative scholars seeking to understand the complex state-society relationships that undergird the implementation of constitutions and the impact this has on the quality of democracy. Kissane successfully highlights how an overemphasis on bolstering effective governance among constitutional practitioners can ultimately contribute to undermining the overall democratic character of a constitution.'
The Review of Politics