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Government, parliament and the constitution: the reinterpretation of Poynings' Law, 1692-1714

2006-11, McGrath, Charles Ivar

The history of Poynings’ Law is complex and multifaceted. Much has been written about it, at times with the end result being a recognition that to investigate Poynings’ Law is to venture into a quagmire. At the same time, a number of important works have been published over the years that throw light upon specific periods in the history of that law. Until recently, much of the focus has been on the period stretching from the passage of the law in 1494-5 up to 1641, with some significant excursions into the eighteenth-century history of the law. Two newer studies demonstrate a shift in focus: one a detailed study of the 1640s; the other a broader work on the history of the law from 1660 to 1800. However, at present, gaps still remain in our knowledge of the subject, particularly for the last one hundred and forty years of the law’s existence. This article aims to fill one such gap, by focusing upon the period 1692-1714.

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Central Aspects of the Eighteenth-Century Constitutional Framework in Ireland: The Government Supply Bill and Biennial Parliamentary Sessions, 1715-82

2001-07, McGrath, Charles Ivar

In the period 1692-1714, the Irish constitution was redefined through a process of political conflict and compromise between the executive and legislature over the question of the provision of money for the government's financial needs. The conflict centred upon two central elements of the existing constitution: Poynings' law and the crown's prerogative in initiating supply legislation. The resulting compromise constitutional framework was characterised by five principles, two of which concerned the government supply bill in the first session of a new parliament and the use by the House of Commons of supply legislation as a means of ensuring biennial parliamentary sessions. This article addresses the question of the application of these two principles in the period 1715-82, and examines the extent to which the politics of supply resulted in further alterations within the constitutional framework prior to legislative independence in 1782.