A

Act
A law that has been signed by the President of Ireland

Amendment
A proposed change to the detail of a Bill

B

Back benches
The seats where TDs or Senators sit if they are not Ministers or spokespersons for their party

Bill
A draft of a new law that has not yet been passed by the Oireachtas

Budget
The Government's annual financial plan 

Bunreacht na hÉireann
The Constitution of Ireland

By-election
An election that occurs when a seat in the Dáil or Seanad becomes vacant during the lifetime of a Dáil, generally because the sitting TD or Senator dies, resigns or becomes ineligible to sit for some reason

C

Cabinet
Group of senior Ministers chosen by the Taoiseach which is collectively responsible for government policy and oversees and co-ordinates the work of the various government departments 

Cathaoirleach
Chairperson

Ceann Comhairle
The Chairperson of Dáil Éireann who chairs the proceedings and ensures all TDs are treated fairly and the rules of the House are followed

Chief Whip
The Whip of the main party in government, who is also the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach; see also Whip 

Clerk of the Dáil
The senior civil servant in the administration of the Dáil, who is also Secretary General of the Houses of the Oireachtas

Clerk of the Seanad
The senior civil servant of the Seanad

Commencement Matter
A matter for discussion which a Senator raises in the Seanad and to which a Minister responds; time is allocated at the commencement of a Seanad sitting to take up to four commencement matters

Commencement Order
A statutory instrument that specifically commences a part of an Act

Committees
Groups of TDs and Senators which deal with specific areas of Oireachtas business including receiving submissions from interest groups, discussing legislative proposals and taking Committee Stage of Bills

Comptroller and Auditor General
The person selected by Dáil Éireann to provide independent assurance that public money is properly managed and spent to good effect; knows as the C&AG for short

Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution sets out Ireland’s basic laws and describes how the country should be governed, the main institutions of the State and the rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens; in the Irish language Bunreacht na hÉireann

Council of State
A group which advises the President and which comprises past Taoisigh (Prime Ministers), Presidents, Chief Justices, the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, the Attorney General and people appointed by the President

Cream list
A list of amendments passed by one House to a Bill initiated in the other House; these amendments must be approved by the House in which the Bill was initiated

D

Deputy
Member of the Dáil; also known as a TD (Teachta Dála)

Dáil Éireann
The Lower House of the Oireachtas; known as the Dáil for short

Dissolution
An action by the President to end the current term of the Dáil so a general election can be held

Division
The point in parliamentary proceedings where a question or amendment is put to a formal vote by Members

Documents Laid
Documents that are formally submitted to the Houses of the Oireachtas in order to support the democratic process; known as DocsLaid for short

E

Estimates for Public Services
A document which sets out the amount planned to be spent by Government Departments and certain agencies in the coming year

Explanatory Memorandum
Document outlining the purpose and main provisions of a Bill

F

Front bench
The seats where Government Ministers and party spokespersons sit in the Dáil and Seanad

G

General election
Election in which citizens on the voting register cast their votes to elect TDs to a new Dáil

General Scheme of a Bill
Also known as the Heads of a Bill; a document which sets out the main objectives, headings and provisions of a proposed Bill

Green Paper
A discussion document which sets out the Government’s ideas and invites comment and views from individuals and relevant organisation

Guillotine
A restriction on the time allocated to debate a Bill in one of the Houses, which may result in the Bill being passed without being fully debated

H

Heads of a Bill
Also known as the General Scheme of a Bill; a document which sets out the main objectives, headings and provisions of a proposed Bill

I

Irish Statute Book
An online repository of searchable legislation

J

Joint Committee
A committee which comprises Members of both Dáil and Seanad Éireann

Junior Minister
A Member appointed by the Taoiseach to help a Minister of a Government Department; officially called a Minister of State

L

Leaders’ Questions
Time allocated during a Dáil sitting during which each Opposition party leader may ask the Taoiseach a brief question on a matter of public importance 

Leas-Chathaoirleach
The deputy chairman of Seanad Éireann

Leas-Cheann Comhairle
The deputy chairman of Dáil Éireann 

Long Title
An outline description of the purpose of a Bill

M

Member
A Member of either House of the Oireachtas

Minister
A member of the Government who manages a Department

Minister of State
A Member appointed by the Taoiseach to help a Minister of a Government Department; also known as a Junior Minister

Money Bill
A Bill that only contains provisions dealing with taxation; borrowing or repayment of loans; or management or expenditure of public money

Money message
A message from the Government approving the expenditure of public moneys, required for any Bill to proceed to Committee Stage

Motion
A formal proposal made in the Dáil or Seanad which may be debated and voted on by the Members

Motion of Approval
A formal proposal made in the Dáil or Seanad (or both) allowing a proposed statutory instrument to be debated and voted on by Members of the Oireachtas

Motion to Annul
A formal proposal made in the Dáil or Seanad (or both) allowing a proposed statutory instrument to be annulled following a debate and vote by Members

O

Oireachtas
The national parliament of Ireland which consists of the President, Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann

Order of Business
The items of business to be taken in the Dáil or Seanad on a particular day; announced by the Taoiseach in the Dáil and the Leader in the Seanad

Order Paper
Document which sets out the business before each House

P

Pairing
An arrangement whereby a TD of one party agrees with a TD of an opposing party not to vote in a particular division, giving both TDs the opportunity to be elsewhere

Parliamentary question (PQ)
A question by a TD or Senator to a Minister; a number of questions are selected to be answered in the Dáil while the remainder receive written replies

President
The head of the Irish State

Private Bill
A Bill that is promoted by local authorities and private bodies or individuals for their own purposes; see also Public Bill

Private Members’ Bill (PMB)
A Bill initiated by a TD or Senator who is not a member of Government

Private Members’ Business
Time allocated during a Dáil sitting during which Opposition parties and groups can bring forward their own Bills and motions for debate

Programme for Government
A Government’s work plan for its time in office

Public Bill
A Bill that is applicable to the general body of citizens; see also Private Bill

Q

Questions Paper
A document containing the texts of all oral, priority and written questions for a particular day in the order in which they are to be asked

Quorum
A quorum of 20 Members is required to begin a Dáil sitting, except on a Friday sitting when the quorum is 10

R

Referendum
A vote by the electorate, usually on a single issue such as a change to the Constitution or a European treaty

S

Seanad Éireann
The Upper House of the Oireachtas; known as the Seanad for short or the Senate

Select Committee
A committee consisting of either Members of the Dáil or Members of the Seanad, but not both

Senator
A Member of Seanad Éireann

Sine die
Latin: without day; indicates that a forum has adjourned without setting a date for its next meeting

Standing Orders
The rules of either Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann 

Statutory Instrument (SI)
A form of delegated or "secondary" legislation, such as ministerial orders and regulations

T

Tánaiste
The Taoiseach’s deputy

Taoiseach
The head of the Irish Government (Prime Minister of Ireland)

TD
Teachta Dála; directly translates as Deputy to the Dáil

Topical Issue
An issue of concern which a TD raises in the Dáil and to which a Minister responds; time is allocated on each Dáil sitting day to take up to four topical issues

W

Whip
A TD or Senator appointed by each party to maintain party discipline and encourage party members to vote in a particular way in divisions

White Paper
A discussion document which sets out the Government’s policy on an issue and what it intends to do

 

Last updated: 18 March 2021