Constitutional Conversations: A Report of a series of seminars

John Morison (Editor)

Research output: Other contribution

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This Constitutional Conversations series is the initiative of the Ethical, Political, Legal and Philosophical
Studies Committee within the Royal Irish Academy. It follows on from the committee’s contribution
to the president of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative, when, in 2015, the committee organised an Opinion Series
that featured a range of experts reflecting on the ethical dimensions of topics ranging from neuroscience
and emerging technologies to whistleblowing and the constitution. The Constitutional Conversations
series, which began in 2016, built upon the interest in the ethics comment pieces by seeking
to bring people together for an open discussion of topics of contemporary importance. The format,
which developed as the series progressed, was designed to encourage maximum debate. Speakers
were chosen to introduce aspects of the subject under consideration, and discussion was then opened
up to the audience. The events were conducted under the Chatham House Rule, whereby comments
are not attributed, so as to allow open and free discussion. As the series developed, a circular seating
arrangement was favoured; this suited a style of proceedings that was less about listening to experts
and more about opening up dialogue and hearing a range of voices. Although introductory speakers
were always experts, they were not always drawn from academia; instead, they were often from government,
industry and legal practice. One memorable group of young people introduced a session
reflecting on their experiences of the digital world. The audiences too were diverse, and a variety of
people new to the activities of the Royal Irish Academy were drawn into Academy House for what
was often very lively conversation. A summary of all of the conversations is provided here. These were
drawn up by rapporteurs, usually postgraduate students, who have presented their perceptions of the
events and their sense of how the conversations developed. We are grateful to them as well as to all
the speakers who made these conversations so successful.
The series moved from Dublin to the newly opened Law School Building in Queen’s University Belfast
for a conversation on the issue of Brexit and Ireland as that issue gained potency following the
referendum in the UK in June 2016. This conversation, and one that took place in May in advance of
the referendum, benefited from cooperation and support from the Tensions on the Fringes of the
European Union (TREUP) project and an Erasmus + grant, which allowed a range of speakers to be
brought in from across Europe to explore options for the way forward.
The whole series benefited from sponsorship from Mason, Hayes and Curran, and the Royal Irish
Academy is particularly grateful for that support.
Original languageEnglish
TypeReport on Seminar Series
Media of outputPrint and online
PublisherRoyal Irish Academy
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

A series of reports with multiple authors drawn from a seven part seminar series held by the Ethical, Political. Legal and Philosophical Studies Committee of the Royal Irish Academy


  • Constitutions ethics, family law, brexit, Republic, Digital Citizenship, Commemoration,

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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