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 main function of the Seanad is to debate legislation proposed by the Government. The Seanad can amend a Bill that has been passed by the Dáil and delay, but not stop, it becoming law. Senators can also introduce their own Bills, which are debated in the Seanad and, if passed, are then debated in the Dáil. Although the Government has no constitutional responsibility to Seanad Éireann, a Minister or Minister of State attends the Seanad when it is dealing with Bills or debating Government policy.
The Seanad Members elect a Cathaoirleach who acts as Chairman of the Seanad. The Taoiseach appoints one of the Senators to be Leader of the Seanad and the Opposition parties also appoint their leaders in the Seanad. The Seanad also elects a Leas-Chathaoirleach, who is the deputy Chairman of the House.