The Leas-Cheann Comhairle holds office as the Deputy Chairman of Dáil Éireann under Article 15.9.1° of the Constitution of Ireland. The expression “Leas-Cheann Comhairle” is defined by Standing Order 5 as the Member elected by Dáil Éireann to be Deputy Chairman of Dáil Éireann. In the absence of the Ceann Comhairle the Leas-Cheann Comhairle deputises and performs the duties and exercises the authority of the Ceann Comhairle in Dáil proceedings as follows:
- Ensuring that the Standing Orders are complied with; ruling on their interpretation where a dispute arises; ensuring that they are upheld and, if not, dealing with disorderly members;
- Presiding over debates and ensuring that members’ speeches are relevant to the matter under discussion;
- Ensuring that business is conducted in an orderly and impartial manner; and
- Dealing with discipline.
In this role it is the privilege and duty of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle to protect, on behalf of the House, the right of its individual Members and to ensure that the business of Parliament is progressed in an orderly and dignified way befitting the House in its role, both as a constituent part of the legislature and as the directly elected Assembly to which the government in constitutionally accountable. When in the chair, as the impartial presiding member, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle cannot take one side over the other.
In the official absence of the Ceann Comhairle, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle deputises and acts as follows:
- As an ex officio member of the presidential commission which acts in the absence of the President
- As an ex officio Chairman of the Committee on Procedure
- As chairman of the executive of the Inter-Parliamentary Union which maintains and nurtures contacts between Parliaments all over the world.
- As an ex officio chairman/member of statutory bodies
- As a member of the appeal board in relation to the registration of political parties (Electoral Act 1997) and a member of the appeal board to hear appeals in relation to registration of nominating bodies for the Seanad election – Seanad Electoral (Panel Members) Act 1947
- As an ex officio member of the Presidents (Speakers) of Parliament of the EU
Selection of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle
On 30 June 2016, the 32nd Dáil approved an amendment to Standing Order 11 regarding the election of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Under the changes, the candidate is to be selected by secret ballot and the person selected is then to be formally elected as Leas-Cheann Comhairle by an open vote in the Dáil.
Selection of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle of the 33rd Dáil
Nominations, 22 July 2020
Two valid nominations were received by the Clerk of Dáil Éireann, Mr. Peter Finnegan, and were thus deemed to be candidates for the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
Secret ballot, 23 July 2020
Deputy Catherine Connolly was selected on the first count and was then formally elected as Leas-Cheann Comhairle by an open vote in the Dáil.
|Name||Number of votes|
Catherine Connolly | Independent
Fergus O'Dowd | Fine Gael
Selection of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle of the 32nd Dáil
Four valid nominations were received by the Clerk of Dáil Éireann, Mr. Peter Finnegan, and were thus deemed to be candidates for the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
- Sean Crowe, Dublin South-West
- Bernard J. Durkan, Kildare North
- Pat the Cope Gallagher, Donegal
- Mattie McGrath, Tipperary
Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher was elected on the fourth count and was formally elected as Leas-Cheann Comhairle by an open vote in the Dáil.