If you are an overseas media, read our brief guide to the Parliament of the Republic of Ireland.

You can find more background information in our How Parliament works section.

The Oireachtas

  • The Republic of Ireland is a parliamentary representative democracy.
  • Legislative power is vested in the Oireachtas, which consists of the President of Ireland and the two Houses of the Oireachtas: Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann.
  • Executive power is exercised by the Government, which is led by the Taoiseach (Prime Minister), whose deputy is the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister).
  • The Cabinet is nominated by the Taoiseach and approved by the Dáil, then appointed by the President. 

See CitizensInformation.ie for more information about the Irish Constitution and national and local government.

Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann

  • Dáil Éireann is the principal Chamber of the Oireachtas and has 158 Members. A Member's official Irish title is "Teachta Dála" (commonly known as TD), which in English means "Deputy to the Dáil".
  • By law, a General Election to Dáil Éireann must be held at least once every five years.
  • The Chair of the Dáil is called the Ceann Comhairle. His/her deputy is the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
  • The Seanad is the Upper House of the Oireachtas and has 60 Senators. The Chair of the Seanad is called the Cathaoirleach. His/her deputy is the Leas-Chathaoirleach.

The President

  • The President of Ireland is elected to a seven-year term of office and no person may serve more than two terms. The current President is Michael D. Higgins.
  • The President, who does not have an executive or policy role, exercises his/her formal powers and functions on the advice of the Government.
  • The President has the power to refer a Bill to the Supreme Court for a judgment on its constitutionality. He/she may seek advice from the Council of State and refer the Bill to the Irish Supreme Court for a ruling on whether it complies with the Constitution.
  • The official residence of the President is Áras an Uachtaráin, in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Learn more about the office and role of the President here.

Parliamentary committees

Parliamentary committees play an important role in the business of the Oireachtas. They can receive submissions and hear evidence from interested parties or groups; discuss and draft proposals for legislative change; print and publish minutes of evidence and related documents; and require attendance of Ministers to discuss current policies and proposals for legislation.

There are four types of committees:

  • Standing committee
  • Joint committee
  • Select committee
  • Special committee (rare) 

Electoral constituencies

  • At present, there are 40 constituencies in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Voting at presidential, Dáil and European elections is by secret ballot on the principle of proportional representation (PR) in multi-seat constituencies, each voter having a single transferable vote (STV); in a presidential election, Ireland is a single constituency.
  • Voting in Seanad elections is also by PR and STV. The Taoiseach nominates 11 Senators while a further six are elected by certain national universities.
  • The remaining 43 Senators are elected from vocational panels of candidates, the electorate for which consists of members of the outgoing Senate, the TDs of the recently elected Dáil and the elected members of the county councils throughout the State.

For further information about general elections and the Irish electoral system, see the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government website.