Authority in Ireland is divided between the Legislature (the Oireachtas), the Executive (the Government) and the Judiciary (the courts). Our Constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann, provides for a separation of these powers, so none of the three organs of State can interfere with the functions of the other two.

The Oireachtas is the only body that has the power to make laws. The Oireachtas consists of a bicameral chamber and the President of Ireland. “Bicameral” means it comprises two Houses, a Lower House, Dáil Éireann, and an Upper House, Seanad Éireann. The Constitution states that the Government must answer to Dáil Éireann.

Role of the Oireachtas

The main function of the Oireachtas is to make laws for Ireland. The Oireachtas also elects the Government, approves the funding of Government Departments and holds the Government to account.

Voting in Ireland

The Dáil must be dissolved and a general election held at least every five years. A Seanad election takes place up to 90 days after Dáil Éireann has dissolved. Find out how the Irish people choose the Members of the Oireachtas.

Parliamentary rules

The Constitution allows each House to make its own rules, and these are known as Standing Orders. The Standing Orders of the Seanad are enforced by the Cathaoirleach and the Standing Orders of the Dáil are enforced by the Ceann Comhairle.

How laws are made

Making new laws is one of the main tasks of the Oireachtas. A draft of a proposed new law is called a Bill. Once a Bill is signed into law by the President, it becomes an Act and is added to the Statute Book. The Oireachtas passes approximately 40 Acts each year.

Dáil Éireann

The Dáil is the Lower House of the Oireachtas. It has 158 Members elected to represent constituencies throughout the country.

Seanad Éireann

The Seanad is the Upper House of the Oireachtas and has 60 Members, who are known as Senators. It is not directly elected by the people and has less power than the Dáil.