Various offices and sections provide the parliamentary corporate services that keep the Houses of the Oireachtas running smoothly.
- Bills Office
Legislation is one of the main jobs of the Oireachtas, and the Bills Office supports all aspects of this work. When a Member brings forward a new Bill, the Bills Office examines the text to ensure it complies with Standing Orders, Rulings of the Chair and other matters of order. It is the job of the Bills Office to print and circulate Bills as well as publish them online.
When a Bill goes through Committee Stage and Report Stage in the Houses, Members may table amendments to it, and they submit these amendments to the Bills Office. Again, the Bills Office scrutinises the text of the amendments and circulates them in print and online.
Before a Bill goes through Committee or Report Stage in the Dáil or Seanad, the Bills Office prepares a procedural brief for the relevant Chairman and Clerk. The Bills Office also briefs Members, their staff and departmental officials on the legislative process and procedure.
When a general election or by-election is called, the Bills Office prepares the election writs which are issued to returning officers in each constituency. It accepts copies of the completed writs back from them along with a report of the election and all ballot papers cast.
- Debates Office
The Debates Office produces and publishes the Official Report. The Official Report is a complete, authoritative and impartial written record of the proceedings of the Dáil, Seanad and Oireachtas committees.
The Official Report is substantially but not strictly verbatim because it is accepted that the words spoken by Members and witnesses must be lightly edited for a readership rather than a listenership. The Debates Office is headed by the Editor of Debates, who leads a team of editors and parliamentary reporters.
- Journal Office
The Journal Office provides a range of administrative support services to the Dáil. On each sitting day, the Journal Office publishes an Order Paper which details the business before the Dáil on that day. A Member who wishes to put a motion before the House, or propose an amendment to another Member’s motion, submits it to the Journal Office.
The Journal Office records Dáil divisions and produces the Journal of Proceedings. The Journal of Proceedings is a record of the business taken, the decisions, resolutions and amendments made, and the motions or Bills passed by the House.
The Journal Office compiles Standing Orders and provides procedural advice to the Ceann Comhairle, Clerks and Members of the Dáil. It also works with the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges to review parliamentary processes and maintains an archive of procedural records and documentation.
- Oireachtas Committees
The Oireachtas has a number of committees with members drawn from both the Dáil and the Seanad. Each Oireachtas committee examines a specific area of Government business, such as transport or foreign affairs. Generally speaking, the committees mirror Government Departments.
Committees examine proposed legislation and monitor Government spending. They also investigate topics of interest to the Government and publish their findings. Committees may invite members of the public to make written submissions or come and speak at a committee meeting. Committees are the only Oireachtas forum in which members of the public can participate directly. Committee meetings are televised and broadcast online.
- General Office / Questions Office
Members of the Dáil can submit Parliamentary Questions to the Taoiseach and Government Ministers. The General Office – unofficially known as the Questions Office – supports this important function.
The General Office examines all questions to ensure they comply with Standing Orders. If a question does not comply, it may be disallowed in whole or in part by the Ceann Comhairle. Alternatively, the General Office may suggest the Member reword the question.
The General Office publishes and circulates a Question Paper on each day that the Dáil takes Parliamentary Questions. It notifies each Government Department of the questions relevant to them, checks each reply for data protection issues, distributes the responses to the Members who asked each question and provides the replies to the Debates Office for inclusion in the Official Report.
- Library & Research Service (L&RS)
The Library & Research Service (L&RS) provides impartial research and information services to Oireachtas Members and committees.
The L&RS provides analysis, facts, statistics and relevant media articles on the issues and legislation scheduled to come before the Houses. It also conducts tailored research to meet the needs of individual Members.
The L&RS publishes online resources on Government Bills and information relevant to the Houses’ weekly schedules. Members are notified by e-mail of new publications and a selection of this material is available on Oireachtas.ie.
The L&RS manages and maintains an online public access catalogue (OPAC) of books, journals and full-text digital collections. It can be accessed at opac.oireachtas.ie.
- Communications, Broadcasting and Web
The Communications Unit opens up the Oireachtas to the public, promoting and explaining the work of the Houses of the Oireachtas. It looks after all media and public relations for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and manages social media, education and event programmes.
There is a dedicated Committee press liaison service and a weekly local media programme to assist the press in their coverage of all proceedings. The Communications Unit also produces publications such as visitor brochures.
Oireachtas TV is our live streaming service and 24/7 TV channel. It gives viewers an insight into the daily work of the Houses of the Oireachtas, allowing them to watch live video feeds of the Dáil, Seanad and Committee debates and access the archive of past recordings. The Oireachtas TV channel broadcasts a mix of live video, special features and documentaries to more than 1.1 million Irish households via Saorview, Sky, eir Vision, Virgin Media and Vodafone.
The web team manages this website. Their goal is to ensure members of the public have easy access to information about the work of the Oireachtas, such as legislation and debates.
- Rannóg an Aistriúcháin / Translation Section
Rannóg an Aistriúcháin (the Translation Section) provides translation services for the Houses of the Oireachtas. It produces official translations of the Acts of the Oireachtas and translation material for the Order Papers of both Houses. It also provides a simultaneous interpretation service for the Dáil, Seanad and committees and a Members’ correspondence translation service. An Rannóg also translates statutory instruments, the Standing Orders of the Houses, strategic plans and annual reports of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and other documents for the Houses of the Oireachtas.
An Rannóg is responsible for the official standard grammar of the Irish language – An Caighdeán Oifigiúil – and maintains glossaries of official terminology used in the Acts. Under the guidance of the Chief Translator, it provides the official versions of the Irish language names of State bodies and schemes featuring in legislation and is the national authority of the State as regards the Irish language version of EU treaties.
- Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO)
The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) provides independent and impartial information, analysis and advice to the Houses of the Oireachtas. The PBO is a key source of financial and budgetary intelligence for Oireachtas Members and in particular for the Oireachtas Committee on Budget Oversight as it conducts ex-ante scrutiny of all budgetary matters. It is an independent specialist unit within the Houses of Oireachtas Service.
Corporate and Members' services
- Superintendent of the Houses
The Superintendent’s Section provides operational support and security for sittings of the Houses and the Oireachtas committees, high-level parliamentary meetings and official events hosted by the Houses. It also has responsibility for managing security and visitor access to the Houses and protecting the safety and health of all those who work in and visit Leinster House.
In co-operation with the Office of Public Works, the Superintendent’s Section works to enhance and improve services to Members and to the public through the ongoing maintenance, conservation and upkeep of Leinster House and its grounds. It also manages the Oireachtas crèche and fitness room.
- Members’ Services
Often called the 'One Stop Shop' the Members’ Services office is a single access point for information and services advising Members on salaries, staffing and allowances. It provides guidelines on the use of such expenditure and making returns on it. It also advises on attendance recording and on audit procedures. The office regularly publishes information on Members’ expenditure and allowances and associated independent annual audits.
- The Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisers (OPLA)
The Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisers (OPLA) is the in-house legal team of the Houses of the Oireachtas. It provides specialist, non-partisan legal advice to Parliament, its Members and staff.
OPLA services include the provision of legal advice to Members on matters related to the parliamentary functions, advice on the content and drafting of Private Members’ Bills and the conduct of litigation involving the Houses and Members. The OPLA is headed by the Chief Parliamentary Legal Adviser and comprises lawyers, each of whom is professionally qualified as a solicitor or barrister in the State.
- Finance Unit
The Finance Unit manages a wide range of services from expenditure reporting to preparation of statements and auditing. It manages, monitors and reports expenditure by the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Finance Unit prepares management financial accounts for examination by the Management Committee, the Finance Committee and the Commission. It prepares the annual Statement of Estimates for approval by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and noting by the Dáil.
The Finance Unit prepares a three-year budget for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, and this budget is negotiated with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It prepares the Annual Account to be submitted by the Secretary General to the Comptroller and Auditor General and assists the Comptroller and Auditor General in respect of the annual audit of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission’s annual account.
- HR Unit
The Human Resources (HR) Unit provides HR services to the Civil Service staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service and payroll services to the employees of Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas. There are two categories of Civil Service staff employed by the Service, namely, the permanent, established, general service civil servants (485 approved posts), and the State industrial, non-established civil servants in the print, bar and catering facilities (48 staff). In addition, there are 430 post filled by 515 employees of the Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas who are employed under the scheme for secretarial assistance and who are on the payroll of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service.
Key administrative duties include the provision of HR information and services to staff, recruitment and induction of new employees and the operation of HR arrangements under Department of Public Expenditure Reform circulars. The HR Unit is responsible for payroll and pension services, financial management, performance management system and industrial relations matters in the Houses of the Oireachtas Service. The Training and Development Unit is responsible for co-ordinating training and development services to meet the needs of Members of the Houses, political staff and civil service staff.
At a strategic level, the unit is responsible for HR policy and strategy development including the implementation of the Civil Service Renewal Plan, resource planning, staff engagement, change management, HR and payroll system improvements, training needs analysis and election planning across the organisation. HR is also responsible for the implementation of the Service’s organisational development initiative and has a co-ordinating role in relation to reform delivery across the Service.
While the 'One Stop Shop' provides information to Members on salary and allowances, HR administers the Members' pension scheme and the scheme for secretarial assistance which provides staff to the Members of both Houses.
- ICT Unit
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Unit is responsible for the provision of ICT systems, equipment and services to support Members, their staff and the staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service in conducting parliamentary business.
The ICT Unit operates a helpdesk which provides support by telephone and e-mail. The ICT Unit responds to emerging technologies as the business requirements of the Oireachtas evolve and defines the ICT strategy for the Oireachtas. The ICT team delivers large IT projects as part of the ICT strategy, for example, the implementation of a virtualised desktop infrastructure.
- Inter-parliamentary Relations and Travel
The Inter-parliamentary Relations and Travel Unit manages the travel and protocol arrangements for incoming parliamentary delegations from abroad and outgoing parliamentary visits overseas by the Ceann Comhairle and Cathaoirleach and their accompanying delegations. It administers the Irish Parliamentary Association (IPA), which promotes understanding and contacts between Irish parliamentarians and those of other countries, and all parliamentary friendship groups.