Role of Government

 

Under the Constitution of Ireland, the executive power of the State is exercised by, or on the authority of, the Government. The Taoiseach and the other members of the Government are appointed by the President: the Taoiseach on the nomination of Dáil Éireann and the other members of the Government on the nomination of the Taoiseach with the prior approval of Dáil Éireann.

Membership of the Government

The Government consists of the Taoiseach and at least six (but not more than fourteen) Ministers.  The Government meets and acts as a collective authority. Each member of the Government has responsibility for the administration of a Department or Departments of State.

Role and Responsibilities of Government

In addition to its specific constitutional and legal functions, the Government is generally responsible for seeing - insofar as is practicable – that law and order are maintained; that the needs of the public are addressed; and that any dangers threatening the interests of the public are averted.  The Government, therefore, takes measures recommended by Ministers which it considers necessary and in the public interest.

Meetings of the Government (Cabinet)

The Government (Cabinet) usually meets once a week and its discussions are confidential.  Although the term “Cabinet” has no formal basis in the Constitution, it is frequently used to describe formal meetings of the Government, to distinguish them from more general activities of government.  The business conducted at Cabinet meetings includes the exercise of formal powers, for example, advising the President to exercise specific powers and making Orders to give effect to statutory provisions.

Major policy issues are considered and approved by Government on the proposal of individual Ministers.  Most of the time at Cabinet meetings is devoted to such matters.

Over time, detailed guidelines have been developed to assist Ministers in bringing issues to Cabinet for consideration and to ensure that Cabinet business is dispatched efficiently and effectively. Those guidelines, which relate to the internal functioning of Cabinet, are contained in the Cabinet Handbook.