Imelda Maher

Professor Imelda Maher, MRIA is the Sutherland Full Professor of European Law at the UCD Sutherland School of Law, Dublin and former Dean of Law (2017-2021).  Her research is at the interface of law and governance in the domains of EU Law and Competition Law.  Her most recent book is D. Hodson and I. Maher, The Transformation of EU Treaty Making: The Rise of Parliaments, Referendums and Courts since 1950 Cambridge University Press, 2018.  She currently is writing on implementation of EU Law in the Irish courts ( in Legal Studies, 2021, with Barry Roger and Rónán Riordan, and in the 2020 Irish Supreme Court Review, with Rónán Riordan with our database publicly available). In her work on international competition law (antitrust) she is currently writing on antitrust law in a multipolar world (with Marek Martyniszyn), developing ideas from her graduate module in this field.  She is a member of Senate of the National University of Ireland and previously was a member of the UCD Governing Authority.  Elected an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple, one of the Inns of Court, London, she is also a member of the Royal Irish Academy and was Secretary for Polite Literatures and Antiquities responsible for the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Academy.  She was general editor of Legal Studies and sits of the boards of the Irish Yearbook of International Law and European Law Open.  She is the first woman to be full professor of law and to be dean of law in UCD.  She is also the first Irish woman to have held the Presidency of the Society of Legal Scholars, the largest scholarly body of lawyers in the UK and Ireland.


Research Project

The project will examine the relationship between law and hope in the context of the EU, focusing on the preamble and early provisions of the Treaty of the EU. The methodology is cross-disciplinary drawing on literature in philosophy, psychology, and politics as well as law to explore the relationship between law and hope.  In thinking of the EU as a polity that is always becoming, it is useful to explore the hopeful quality of EU law.  The project will draw on the literature that considers the constitutionalizing nature of the EU, aspirational constitutionalism and on the literature on law and emotion.  The EU has experienced several crises in the last decade: the fiscal and banking crises; the migration crisis; and the rule of law crisis that has highlighted the limited ability of the EU to respond to the degradation of the rule of law.  In addition, Brexit was a political shock which had the unexpected consequence of harnessing solidarity among remaining Member States and the economic and geo-political implications of which will be played out over time. While much has been written on these crises, two major themes have emerged in legal scholarship: the rule of law and trust.  This project will add to these discussions by analysing what is the nature of the relationship between law and hope.  It does so in the context of the current Conference on the Future of Europe and the prospect of treaty revision where change can be viewed as aspirational or aversive.  At moments of constitutional change through treaty-reform, how important is hope to EU Law?