The committee's task is to continue that of the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution 1997-2002 (the Lenihan Committee) and the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution 1996-97 (the O'Keeffe Committee), namely to complete the programme of constitutional amendments begun by the above committees, aimed at renewing the Constitution in all its parts, for implementation over a number of years. The task is unprecedented: no other state with the referendum as its sole mechanism for constitutional change has set itself so ambitious an objective.
The programme will consist of three kinds of amendment:
technical/editorial These involve changes in form but not in substance, for example changing 'he' to 'he or she' where it is clear that a provision in the Constitution applies to both men and women.
non-contentious These involve changes in substance generally agreeable to the people, for example describing the President as Head of State.
contentious These involve changes in substance which of their nature divide people, for example changes in the character and scope of human rights.
The committee has completed the study of the Articles of the Constitution dealing with the institutions of state. It is now dealing with fundamental rights.
It has published the Ninth Progress Report: Private Property (April 2004) and is currently studying the Articles of the Constitution dealing with the family (Articles 41, 42 and 40.3).
Broadly speaking, the committee's remaining task is to consider:
• fundamental rights (apart from the right to life and property rights, which have already been considered)
• Article 45 (Directive Principles of Social Policy)
• a miscellany ranging from the Preamble, the name of the state, the position of the Irish language, to the transitory provisions.
The committee has adopted the following working procedures:
• to invite submissions from the public on specific issues
• to receive information and understandings from relevant experts
• to issue progress reports.
The following resources have been amassed in the course of the current constitutional review process (1995 to date):
• Report of the Constitution Review Group
• a set of seventeen volumes containing support material for each of the broad areas examined by the Constitution Review Group
• the submissions made to the Constitution Review Group
• the progress reports and working papers of the All-Party committees and of expert groups that have undertaken the task of reviewing the Constitution since 1966
• the written and oral submissions made to the All-Party committees.