Pat the Cope Gallagher

Pat the Cope Gallagher


32nd Dáil (2016 - )




Fianna Fáil

Official address:

Dáil Éireann

Leinster House

Kildare Street

Dublin 2

Private Secretary: Peter Malone

  • (01) 700 2191

Pat the Cope Gallagher is the 20th Leas-Cheann Comhairle of Dail Eireann. He was elected by secret ballot on 6 July 2016. Representing the newly established five-seat constituency of Donegal, having previously served the constituency of Donegal South West between June 1981 to June 1997 and again between May 2002 to June 2009. In the intervening period he served in the European Parliament between June 1994 to June 2002 and again June 2009 to May 2014. Pat served as Chairperson of Donegal County Council in 1985/86 having been first elected to the Council in 1979. He also served in various roles - as a Minister of State in the Departments of Gaeltacht Affairs, Marine, Transport, Environment and Health Promotion. He is a native Irish speaker and prior to entering politics worked in the fish processing sector. He is a graduate of the National University of Galway where he obtained a Degree in Commerce. He is married to Ann and resides in Dungloe, Co. Donegal.

The role of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle

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.

5 July 2016 Deadline for Nominations

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.

  1. Sean Crowe, Dublin South-West
  2. Bernard J. Durkan, Kildare North
  3. Pat the Cope Gallagher, Donegal
  4. Mattie McGrath, Tipperary

6 March 2016 Secret Ballot

Number of candidates 4
Seats 1
Total valid poll 145
Quota 73

Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher was elected on the fourth count.