The main function of the Oireachtas is to make laws for Ireland. The Oireachtas also elects the Government and approves the funding of Government Departments. An important function of the Oireachtas is to hold the Government to account.
The Oireachtas comprises the President of Ireland and the two Houses of the Oireachtas, Seanad Éireann and Dáil Éireann. The Dáil and Seanad delegate certain aspects of their work to a number of Oireachtas Committees, allowing for a more detailed examination of a topic.
The Seanad is the Upper House of the Oireachtas and has 60 Members, who are known as Senators. In theory, the Seanad does not recognise political party membership. In practice, however, the make-up of the Seanad generally reflects the strength of the parties in the Dáil.
The President of Ireland is the Head of State. The President is elected directly by the people and serves a seven year term in office.
As well as attending official functions, the President signs Bills into law. The President may decline to sign a Bill into law, however, this happens only in rare circumstances, for example, if the President, with the Council of State, deems a Bill to be unconstitutional.
The current President is Michael D. Higgins. He is the ninth President of Ireland. President Higgins commenced his term on 11 November 2011 and was inaugurated for a second term in 2018.
Last updated: 7 October 2020