Frequently Asked Questions
When the Constitution of 1937 came in to operation (29th December 1937), the Department of the President of the Executive Council, became the Department of the Taoiseach.
Who is the Taoiseach?
The Taoiseach is Ireland's Head of Government. He is Party Leader, Government Chairman and Chief Policy Maker. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President. Mr. Enda Kenny T.D., leader of the Fine Gael Party, is the current Taoiseach.
What does the Taoiseach do?
As Head of Government, the Taoiseach co-ordinates the work of all Government Departments. He chairs Government Meetings, directs their Agenda and business. The Taoiseach is answerable for Government policy as he is the States Chief Policy Maker. He presents Bills passed by the Dáil and Seanad to the President to sign in order for them to become law. The Taoiseach keeps the President informed on international and domestic policy matters. He nominates the Attorney General who the President then appoints. He nominates Government Ministers (also known as the Cabinet) and nominates the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) from Government. The current Tánaiste is Eamon Gilmore T.D., leader of the Labour Party. He can request the resignation of Ministers. The Taoiseach nominates the Ministers of State (Junior Ministers), for approval by Government. The Taoiseach appoints eleven members of the Seanad also the Clerks and Clerks Assistants of the Dáil and Seanad, the Superintendent and Captain of the Guards for the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Finance must be members of the Dáil.
What does the word Taoiseach mean?
Taoiseach is an old Irish title meaning Chieftain or Leader. Taoisigh is the plural of Taoiseach.
How do you pronounce Taoiseach?
Phonetically the word is pronounced "teeshock" Taoisigh is pronounced as "teeshe".
How many Taoisigh has Ireland had?
The Taoiseach is the Head of the Irish Government. At different times in the past the Head of the Irish Government had different titles. Below is a list of the Heads of the Irish Government since it came into being in 1919.
- Cathal Brugha: January 1919 - April 1919
- Eamon de Valera: April 1919 - August 1921
- Arthur Griffith: January 1921 - September 1922
- Michael Collins: January 1922 - August 1922
- W.T. Cosgrave: August 1922 - March 1932
- Eamon de Valera: March 1932 - February 1948
- John A. Costello: February 1948 - June 1951
- Eamon de Valera: June 1951 - June 1954
- John A. Costello: June 1954 - March 1957
- Eamon de Valera: March 1957 - June 1959
- Sean F. Lemass: June 1959 - Nov 1966
- Jack Lynch: November 1966 - March 1973
- Liam Cosgrave: March 1973 - June 1977
- Jack Lynch: July 1977 - December 1979
- Charles J. Haughey: December 1979 - June 1981
- Garret FitzGerald: June 1981 - January 1982
- Charles J. Haughey: March 1982 - December 1982
- Garret FitzGerald: December1982 - March 1987
- Charles J. Haughey: March 1987 - February 1992
- Albert Reynolds: February 1992 - December 1994
- John Bruton: December 1994 - June 1997
- Bertie Ahern: June 1997 - May 2008
- Brian Cowen: May 2008 to March 2011
- Enda Kenny: March 2011 to Date
Following the dissolution of a Dáil, the Taoiseach remains in office until the new Dáil meets and nominates a new Government.
Ireland has not yet had a female Taoiseach.
If anything happened to the Taoiseach who would run the country?
The Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) would act for the Taoiseach if he were to die or become incapacitated until the appointment of a new Taoiseach
What are Parliamentary Questions?
Article 28.4.1 of the Constitution, states that the Government shall be responsible to Dáil Éireann. One of the procedures of the Dáil is to have members of Government report on the management of their Department by way of reply to Parliamentary Questions (PQs). Any member of the Dáil can ask a question of any Minister. Questions must to addressed to the Minister with functional responsibility for the matter at issue.
These questions are listed at the start of the Dáil Order Paper. PQs can take the form of both Oral or Written question. The Taoiseach answers Oral PQs in the Dáil from 2.30 p.m. to 3.15p.m. twice weekly (i.e. Tuesday and Wednesday). All other Ministers answer Oral PQs once every 6 weeks. Replies to written PQs are supplied to the Deputies through the General Office in Leinster House.
The Taoiseach answers PQs relating to the activities of his Department and about his own schedule and activities (e.g. meetings with Heads of State, issues concerning Northern Ireland, EU and the President.) Where questions are appropriate to another Government Minister, they are transferred to his/her office for reply.
What is the Cabinet?
The Government is referred to as the Cabinet. It consists of not less than seven and not more than fifteen members. Matters discussed at Cabinet Meetings are confidential unless the High Court determines otherwise.
What is the Oireachtas?
The Oireachtas is Ireland's national parliament. It consists of the President and two Houses, Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann. No person can be a member of both Houses at the same time. Sittings of each House are public except where emergency meetings are called and with majority agreement, these sit in private.
What is the Dáil?
Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) normally meets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday, it can also have special sitting days. The work of the Dáil is concerned with debating social,economic, financial and budgetary matters. Its members draft, amend, vote on and examine proposals for new legislation, debate Bills and issues that are important to the country. The members are called Teactaí Dála (plural) and Teachta Dála, ( singular), T.D.s for short. Currently the Dáil has 166 members. Dáil Éireann has its own Committee system which advices on legislation, economic and financial business. The Chairman of the Dáil is called the Ceann Comhairle, the Deputy Chairman is the Leas-Ceann Comhairle.
What is the Seanad?
Seanad Éireann ( Senate) normally meets on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Its main business is revising legislation sent to it by Dáil Éireann. The Seanad can initiate legislation with the exception of financial legislation although it can make recommendations to Money Bills. The Seanad debates issues of social, economic and financial importance to the country. There are sixty members of the Seanad; 11 are nominated by the Taoiseach, 43 are elected by panels representing Culture and Education, Agriculture, Labour, Industry and Commerce and Public Administration, six members are elected by graduates of the National University of Ireland and by the University of Dublin. The members are called Seanadóirí (plural) and Senadóir (singular). The Chairman of the Seanad is called the Cathaoirleach, the Leas-Cathaoirleach is the Deputy Chairman. Only two members of Government can be members of Seanad Éireann.
What is the Constitution?
Bunreacht na hÉireann (Constitution of Ireland), is the highest law of the country. The Bunreacht (Constitution) can only be changed with the vote of Irish citizens (aged eighteen and over) in what is called a Referendum. Changes to the Bunreacht are called Amendments. The present Bunreacht was passed by the people in a Referendum on the1st July 1937. Its fifty Articles cover a wide range of subjects including the establishment of the State, the colours of the Flag, the rules governing the Office of the President, how the Government operates and the powers that Government has.
What the Ministers do?
Each Minister is given a portfolio which gives him/her responsibility for a specific Department. In addition to having responsibility for their own Departments, Government Ministers are collectively responsible for all Departments. If a Minister is absent or indisposed for a given time, his/her responsibilities are given to another Minister, the Departments of Justice and Finance would be assigned to the Taoiseach in this situation. The Tánaiste acts in place of the Taoiseach during his absence.
The Taoiseach can reshuffle portfolios during the Governments term of office, titles and functions of Departments can also be changed. Ministers can attend and address both the Dáil and Seanad. If the Taoiseach resigns from office, Ministers are also deemed to have resigned. However they carry on their duties until their successors are appointed. Ministers of State assist Government Ministers in Parliamentary and departmental work. They are appointed by Government on the nomination of the Taoiseach. The maximum number of Ministers of State is seventeen.