Oireachtas Éireann • The Oireachtas (parliament) consists of: • The President of Ireland • The two Houses of the Oireachtas: • Dáil Éireann (Lower) • Seanad Éireann (Upper) • The Houses of the Oireachtas sit in Leinster House in Dublin, an eighteenth century palace. • The Dáil is by far the most powerful branch of the Oireachtas. • The Oireachtas is the Legislative Branch of government Leinster House, the seat of both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Dail Eireann • Dáil Éireann has 166 members, elected at least once every five years by the people of the Republic of Ireland. • Membership of the Dáil is open to citizens who are 21 or older. • A member of the Dáil is known as a Teachta Dála (TD), or deputy. • The Taoiseach can, by making a request to the president, dissolve the Dáil at any time. A general election must occur within thirty days. • Currently every constituency elects between three and five TDs. • Constituency boundaries are reviewed and, if necessary, redrawn at least once in every twelve years, to accommodate changes in population.
Electing the Dail • Single transferable vote (STV) is a preferentialvoting system designed to minimize wasted votes and provide proportional representation while ensuring that votes are explicitly for candidates rather than party lists. • It achieves this by using multi-seat constituencies (districts) and by transferring votes that would otherwise be wasted. • STV initially allocates an individual's vote to his or her most preferred candidate, and then subsequently transfers unneeded or unused votes after candidates are either elected or eliminated, according to the voter's stated preferences.
STV Example • Need to elect 3 new board members to the AICS. • There are 5 candidates: • Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and Animal • 20 members at the general vote their preference, first through fifth. • The Droop quota is used to determine the quota require for election • Quota = (Votes / (Number of Seats + 1)) + 1 • Quota = (20/(3+1)) + 1 = 6 • Quota for election is 6
First Count: Kermit is elected with 12 first preference votes. The quota is 6. • Second Count: Kermit’s 6 surplus votes transfer to the second choice preferences (Fozzi – 4; Gonzo – 2). However, even with the transfer no candidate has reached the quota. Therefore Animal, who has the fewest votes, is eliminated. • Third Count: Animal’s votes transfer to their second preference, Miss Piggy, causing Miss Piggy to reach the quota and be elected. Miss Piggy barely meets the quota, and therefore has no surplus to transfer. • Fourth Count: Neither of the remaining candidates meet the quota, so Gonzo is eliminated. Fozzi is the only remaining candidate and so wins the final seat. Result: The winners are Chocolate, Oranges and Strawberries.
Seanad Éireann • Seanad Éireann (Senate of Ireland), also known unofficially as the Senate, is the upper house of the Oireachtas (parliament) of Ireland. • Seanad Éireann consists of sixty members • Unlike the lower house, Dáil Éireann, the Senate is not directly elected but consists of a mixture of members chosen by various methods. • It plays an advisory and revising role rather than to be the equal of the popularly elected Dáil. • While every Act of the Oireachtas must receive its assent, it can only delay rather than veto decisions of the Dáil. • In practice the Senate has an in-build government majority due to the Taoiseach's nominees.
Selecting a Senate • Eleven appointed by the Taoiseach. • Six elected by the graduates of certain Irish universities: • Three by graduates of the University of Dublin. • Three by graduates of the National University of Ireland. • 43 elected from five special panels of nominees (known as vocational panels) by an electorate consisting of TDs (member of Dáil Éireann), senators and local councillors. • Nomination is restrictive for the panel seats with only Oireachtas members and designated 'nominating bodies' entitled to nominate. • Each of the five panels consists, in theory, of individuals possessing special knowledge of, or experience in, one of five specific fields: • Cultural and Educational Panel: Education, the arts, the Irish language and Irish culture and literature. • Agricultural Panel: Agriculture and the fisheries. • Labour Panel: Labour (organised or otherwise). • Industrial and Commercial Panel: Industry and commerce (including engineering and architecture). • Administrative Panel: Public administration and social services (including the voluntary sector). • A modified (1000X, with fractions counting) Single Transfer Vote (STV) is also used
Executive Branch • The Government of Ireland is the cabinet that exercises executive authority in Ireland. • The Government is headed by the Taoiseach (prime minister), and the Tánaiste (deputy prime minister). • The Taoiseach is appointed by the President after being designated by Dáil Éireann (the lower house of parliament). • The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Finance must all be members of the Dáil. • The President then appoints the remaining members of the Government - after they have been chosen by the Taoiseach and approved by the Dáil. • The Government must enjoy the confidence of the Dáil if it is to remain in office. • The constitution of the Government must consist of between seven and fifteen members. • Every member of the Government must be a member of the Oireachtas (parliament), and no more than two members may be chosen from the Senate (the upper house of parliament). Brian Cowen Taoiseach Mary Coughlan Tanaiste
Judicial Branch • The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, the High Court and many lower courts established by law. • Judges are appointed by the President after being nominated by the Government and can be removed from office only for misbehaviour or incapacity, and then only by resolution of both houses of the Oireachtas. • The final court of appeal is the Supreme Court, which consists of the Chief Justice and seven other justices. • The Supreme Court has the power of judicial review and may declare to be invalid both laws and acts of the state which are repugnant to the constitution.
Political Groups • Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party is currently the largest political party. • It is currently the leading party in a coalition government with the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats, which also has the support of three IndependentTDs. • Fine Gael – The United Ireland Party, is the second largest political party in the Republic of Ireland, and is the largest opposition party in the Oireachtas. • The Labour Party is a democratic socialist and social democraticpolitical party. It holds 20 of the 166 seats in Dáil Éireann and is the third-largest political party in the State. • Independents - After the Irish general election in 2007, there were five Independent TDs in Dáil Éireann, 3% of the total. • Four of these Independents signed agreements to support the current Irish government. • Progressive Democrats, PDs, are a free marketliberal party. Founded in 1985, it adopts liberal positions on economic issues. It served in government for long periods since its foundation, always with Fianna Fáil, the party from which many of its founding members originated. It is currently in coalition government with Fianna Fáil and the Green Party • Green Party is a greenpolitical party in Ireland. • Sinn Féin is a left wing political party, led by Gerry Adams. The party is the 5th largest in the Dail and the 2nd largest in the Northern Ireland Assembly
Coalition Government • Current Government is a coalition of Fianna Fail, PD, Green Party and Independents • 2 of the 15 cabinet members are a PD TD and a Green Party TD • Current TD (84 for a Dail majority) • Fianna Fáil 77 • Fine Gael 51 • Labour Party 20 • Green Party 6 • Sinn Féin 4 • Progressive Democrats 2 • Independent 5 • Ceann Comhairle 1
President of Ireland • Uachtarán na hÉireann (President of Ireland) is the head of state of Ireland. • President Mary McAleese took office on 10 November 1997 • The presidency is largely a ceremonial office, but the President does exercise certain limited powers at his/her absolute discretion. • The office was established by the Constitution of Ireland in 1937. • The President's official residence is Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin. • Mary McAleese is the 8th president and 2nd woman president. • Mary Robinson preceded, served one term and is the only living former president. She went on to become the 2nd UN High Commissioner for Human rights (’97-’03). • 4 presidents served two terms, the max. Mary McAleese is one of the 4. Áras an Uachtaráin is the official residence of the President. Mary McAleese President of Ireland.
Electing a President • The President is (generally) formally elected by the people once every seven years, unless: • An election must be held within sixty days of a premature vacancy. • Where only one candidate is nominated, he or she is deemed elected without the need for a ballot. • Where there is a consensus among political parties not to have a contest, the President may be 'elected' without the occurrence of an actual ballot. • Since the establishment of the office, in 1937, this has occurred on six occasions. • The President is directly elected by secret ballot under the Alternative Vote form of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, same process as the Dail. • The president can serve a maximum of two terms. • The presidency is open to all citizens of the state who are at least 35 years of age. • A candidate is nominated by one of the following: • At least twenty members of the Oireachtas. • At least four county or city councils. • Themselves (in the case of an incumbent or former president that has served one term). Official Seal of the President of Ireland
President’s Succession • The President of Ireland has no vice president. • In the event of a premature vacancy a successor must be elected within sixty days. • In the interim the duties and functions of the office are carried out by a collective vice-presidency known as the Presidential Commission, consisting of the Chief Justice, the Ceann Comhairle (speaker) of Dáil Éireann, and the Cathaoirleach (chairperson) of the Senate. • Since 1937 the Presidential Commission has taken the place of the President on a number of occasions. • The term of office expires at midnight on the day before the new president's inauguration. Therefore, between midnight and the inauguration the following day the presidential duties and functions are carried out by the Presidential Commission. • The Council of State (a Presidential advisory council, established by the constutution) is the third in the line of succession. However, to date, it has never been necessary.
President’s Role • The Constitution of Ireland provides for a parliamentary system of government, under which the role of the head of state is largely a ceremonial one. • The Government is obliged to keep the President informed on matters of domestic and foreign policy. • Most of the functions of the President may only be carried out in accordance with the strict instructions of the Constitution, or the binding 'advice' of the Government. • The President appoints the Government: • The Taoiseach is appointed upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann and the remainder of the cabinet upon the nomination of the Taoiseach and approval of the Dáil. • Ministers are dismissed on the advice of the Taoiseach and the Taoiseach must, unless there is a dissolution of the Dáil, resign upon losing the confidence of the house. • On the advice of the Government, the President also appoints members of the judiciary. • Convenes and dissolves Dáil Éireann: • This power is exercised on the advice of the Taoiseach. • The President may only refuse a dissolution when a Taoiseach has lost the confidence of Dáil Éireann. The Taoiseach is then obliged to resign • Happened in 1982 with the dissolution of the Fine Gael & Labour coalition The presidential flag
President’s Role • Represents the state in foreign affairs: This power is exercised only on the advice of the Government. The President accredits ambassadors and receives the letters of credence of foreign diplomats. Ministers sign international treaties in the President's name. • Is supreme commander of the Defence Forces, somewhat similar in statute to that of a commander-in-chief. This is a nominal position, the powers of which are exercised on the advice of the Government. • Power of pardon: The President, on the advice of the Government, has "the right of pardon and the power to commute or remit punishment". • The President may not leave the state without the consent of the Government. • Every formal address or message "to the nation" or to either or both Houses of the Oireachtas must have prior approval of the Government. Other than on these two (quite rare) occasions there is no limitation on the President's right to speak. • Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese have made much more use of their right to speak without government approval, with Mary McAleese doing many live radio and television interviews. Nonetheless, by convention Presidents refrain from direct criticism of the government.
President’s Role • Signs bills into law: The president is formally one of three tiers of the Oireachtas. The President may not, unless exercising one of his/her reserve powers, veto a law that the Dáil and the Senate have adopted. • If requested to do so by a petition signed by a majority of the membership of the Senate, and one-third of the membership of the Dáil, the President may, after consultation with the Council of State, decline to sign into law a bill (other than a bill to amend the constitution) he/she considers to be of great "national importance" until it has been approved by either the people in an ordinary referendum or the Dáil reassembling after a general election, held within eight months. This power has never been used due to the fact that the government almost always commands a majority of the senate preventing the third of Dáil Éireann that usually makes up the opposition from combining with it. • Reference of bills to the Supreme Court: The President may, upon consultation with the Council of State, refer a bill to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality. The Supreme Court then tests its constitutionality and the President may not sign the bill into law if it is found to be unconstitutional. This is the most widely used reserve power and was indeed used by six of the eight presidents (most frequently by presidents Patrick Hillery and Mary Robinson), but this power may not be applied to: a money bill, a bill to amend the Constitution, or an urgent bill the time for the consideration of which has been abridged in the Senate. • Abridgement of the time for bills in the Senate: The President may, at the request of Dáil Éireann, and after consultation with the Council of State, impose a time-limit on the period during which the Senate may consider a bill. The effect of this power is to restrict the power of the Senate to delay a bill that the Government considers urgent. • Appointment of a Committee of Privileges: The President may, if requested to do so by the Senate, and upon consultation with the Council of State, establish a Committee of Privileges to solve a dispute between the two Houses of the Oireachtas (parliament) as to whether or not a bill is a money bill. • Address to the Oireachtas: The President may, upon consultation with the Council of State, and provided the text is approved by the Government, address, or send a message to, either or both Houses of the Oireachtas. This power has been invoked on four occasions: by President de Valera once, by President Robinson twice, and by President McAleese once, on the eve of the year 2000. • Address to the Nation: The President may, upon consultation with the Council of State, and provided the text has been approved by the Government, address, or send a message to, the 'nation'. This power has been used twice, by Erskine Childers in 1974, and by President McAleese in 2001. • Convention of meetings of the Oireachtas: The President may, upon consultation with the Council of State, convene a meeting of either or both Houses of the Oireachtas. This power would allow the President to step in if, in extraordinary circumstances, the ordinary procedures for convening the houses had broken down.