Acts – primary legislation of Ireland. Part of the work of the Oireachtas is to make laws, called Acts of the Oireachtas. See also Bills.
Backbenches (backbenchers) – the backbenches are the seats where TDs or Senators sit if they are not Ministers or spokespersons for their party.
Bills – proposals for new laws. To become law a Bill must first be approved by both the Dáil and in most circumstances the Seanad, although the Dáil can override a Seanad refusal to pass a Bill. Once the Bill has been passed by the Oireachtas, the Taoiseach presents it to the President to sign into law, and it then becomes an Act. See also Acts.
By-elections - these occur when a seat in the Dáil or Seanad becomes vacant during its lifetime (between general elections), generally because the sitting TD or Senator dies, resigns (for example to take a job in the European Commission) or becomes ineligible to sit for some reason.
Cabinet - the senior Ministers chosen by the Taoiseach. This group is collectively responsible for government policy and oversees and co-ordinates the work of the various government departments.
Cathaoirleach - the Chair (or "speaker") of Seanad Éireann. The Cathaoirleach is the sole judge of order and calls on members to speak. All speeches must be addressed to the Chair. Other functions include supervising Divisions (votes) and declaring the results.
Clerk of the Dáil – the senior civil servant in the administration of the Dáil, who is also Secretary General of the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas, Registrar of Political Parties, and Accounting Officer.
Clerk of the Seanad – the senior civil servant of the Seanad.
Ceann Comhairle - the Chair (or "speaker") of Dáil Éireann. The Ceann Comhairle is the sole judge of order and calls on members to speak. All speeches must be addressed to the Chair. Other functions include supervising Divisions and declaring the results. The Chair may order Members to withdraw from the House or name them for suspension by the House for a period. In the case of great disorder the Chair can suspend or adjourn the House.
Commencement Matter- Senators may raise on the adjournment matters relating to public affairs connected with a Department of State or to matters of administration for which a member of the Government or Minister of State is officially responsible (including bodies under the aegis of a Department of State in respect of Government policy). Four such matters may be raised on any one day, with four minutes being available to the Senator and four for the Minister to reply. The Cathaoirleach allows a brief one minute supplementary comment from the Senator and the Minister. Senators who wish to raise a matter on the adjournment are required to give written notice to the Seanad Office by 3pm on the preceding day. The Cathaoirleach informs the House, before the commencement of business, of the four matters he or she has selected for discussion.
Committees – groups covering many key areas of Oireachtas business. Committees can receive submissions and hear evidence from interested parties or groups, discuss and draft legislative proposals, and require attendance of Ministers and public servants to discuss current policies and practices. Each house of the Oireachtas has its own Standing Committees and Select Committees, but there are also a number of Joint Committees that include members of both.
Constitution of Ireland - Bunreacht na hÉireann, the constitution of Ireland which came into operation on 29 December 1937. Since 25 June 1941 the Constitution may only be amended by referendum.
Taoiseach – the prime minister and head of government.
TD - Teachta Dála, member of the Dáil. There are 166 TDs at present.
Topical Issues - Topical Issues provide TDs with the opportunity to raise issues of concern to them on the floor of the Dáil chamber. To do this, members must give notice in writing to the Ceann Comhairle of the issues they want to raise before 10 a.m. on each sitting day. The Ceann Comhairle then selects four issues for debate. In each case the TD concerned makes a four-minute statement and the Minister has a right to make a four-minute statement in reply. The TD is then allowed to make a further two-minute statement and the Minister is allowed a further two minutes to reply.