Members of Dáil Éireann are elected by citizens aged 18 years and over. A Member's official Irish title is "Teachta Dála" which in English means "Deputy to the Dáil"; Members are generally called "TDs" or "Deputies".
By law, a General Election to Dáil Éireann must be held at least once every five years. For electoral purposes, the country is divided into areas known as constituencies, each of which elects either three, four or five Members.
Under the Constitution there must be at least one Member for every 20,000 to 30,000 people and at present there are 158 Members representing 40 constituencies.
The constituencies must be revised at least once in every twelve years. In practice, constituencies are revised on the publication of the results of each census of population.
A census is normally taken every fifth year and then an independent Commission draws up a revised scheme of constituencies if necessary.
Deputies represent the entire electorate within their constituencies and provide an essential democratic link between constituents, Government and Parliament.
A Deputy can be a member of a Government Party, the Opposition or sit as an Independent.
The work of a Deputy is extremely varied. Deputies will, therefore, divide their time between the needs of their constituency, where they maintain close links with local people, groups and organisations, and attendance at meetings of Dáil Éireann and its many specialist committees.
Deputies hold regular advice clinics throughout their constituencies which enables constituents to meet them personally. Very often assistance may be required to help with a personal/family problem with a Government Department, local authority or the Health Service Executive.
If necessary, the Deputy will use the procedures of Dáil Éireann (e.g. Parliamentary Question) to have the matter discussed.
Dáil Éireann normally meets in plenary session on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
A typical day's work for a Deputy in Dáil Éireann includes: