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Senator Paul Coghlan was elected as the Leas-Chathaoirleach of Seanad Eireann on 15 June 2016. He was first elected to Seanad Eireann in 1997 on the industrial and commercial panel, and re-elected in 2002, 2007, 2011 and 2016.
His spokesmanships have included Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and Defence. Between 2011 and 2016, Senator Coghlan served as Government Chief Whip in the Seanad and was a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance. From Killarney, Co. Kerry, he is a former President of Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Junior Chamber. He was a founding director of Radio Kerry and is a trustee and former chairman of the Trustees of Muckross House. The Leas-Chathaoirleach was a member of Killarney Town Council from 1985 to 1999 and served two terms as mayor. He was also a member of Kerry County Council from 1991-1999 and the Dingle Harbour Commissioners.
He is a member of the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly, the North–South Parliamentary Association and the Joint Committee on European Affairs. Senator Coghlan was chairman of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly Committee which published a report on “Cross-Border Police Cooperation and Illicit Trade”.
Paul and his wife, Peggy, have two sons and three daughters. Prior to entering politics Paul was an estate agent, auctioneer and businessman. He is a member of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers and the Institute of Banking in Ireland, and holds an LIB.
The role of the Leas-Chathaoirleach
Immediately after the election of the Cathaoirleach, the Seanad fixes a date for the election of a deputy Chairman, who is designated and addressed as the Leas-Chathaoirleach. The term of the Leas-Chathaoirleach is the term of the Seanad existing at the time of his or her election. The Seanad may, however, at any time, by resolution of which seven clear days’ notice of motion has been given, remove the Leas-Chathaoirleach from office.
During the absence of the Cathaoirleach through illness or other cause, the Leas-Chathaoirleach performs the duties devolving upon and exercise the authority conferred upon the Cathaoirleach by the Standing Orders of Seanad Éireann. While the Leas-Chathaoirleach is in the Chair he or she performs the duties devolved upon, and exercises the authority conferred upon, the Cathaoirleach by Standing Orders.
The Leas-Chathaoirleach is an ex officio Chairman of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges (Seanad Éireann), which considers matters of procedure generally and recommends any additions or amendments to the Standing Orders. The committee may also consider and report to the House as to Members' privileges.