Government of Ireland

The Government of Ireland ( Irish : Rialtas na hÉireann ) is the firm That exercises executive authority in the Republic of Ireland .

The Constitution of Ireland , Taoiseach, the head of government . The government is composed of all the members of the Irish Parliament. The Taoiseach must be nominated and approved by the Dáil Éireann , the lower house of the Oireachtas , the Irish legislature. Following the Dáil’s nomination, the President of Ireland joins the Taoiseach to his role. The President also joins the members of the government, including the Tánaiste, the deputy head of government, on the appointment of the Taoiseach. The government is dependent on the Oireachtas to make primary legislation and as such, the government needs to command a majority in the Dáil in order to ensure support and confidence for budgets and government bills to pass. Collectively, the government is known as „the cabinet“.

The current Taoiseach is Leo Varadkar who took office on 14 June 2017. He is the leader of Fine Gael , the party with the highest number of seats in the Dáil. Varadkar’s government is a minority coalition, made up of Fine Gael and independent members. His Tánaiste is Simon Coveney who took office on 30 November 2017.


Membership of the Cabinet is regulated by Article 19 of the Constitution of Ireland and by the Ministers and Secretaries Acts 1924 to 2017 . [1] The Irish constitution requires the government to consist of seven and fifteen members entre, [2] all of Whom must be a member of the Oireachtas .

Since the formation of the 12th Government of Ireland in 1966, [3] all Irish cabinets have been formed with the constitutional maximum of fifteen ministers. The total number of members of the coalition following the resignation of individual ministers or the withdrawal of a party from a coalition.

No more than two members of the Seanad Éireann , the upper house of the legislature. [4] As a result, all other members of the government must be members of Dáil Éireann , the lower house. The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Finance must be members of the Dáil. [5]

In practice, however, the members of the government are invariably members of the Dáil. Since the adoption of the 1937 constitution, two ministers have been appointed from the Seanad: only Seán Moylan who served in 1957 as Minister for Agriculture and James Dooge who served as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1981 to 1982. [6] ( Joseph Connolly , a member of the Free State Seanad , had served in the Executive Council of the Irish Free State [6] from 1932 to 1933 as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs , [7] and from 1933 to 1936 asMinister for Lands and Fisheries . [8] )

Members of the Government in charge of the Department of State are designated “ Ministers of Government “ (before 1977 a „Minister of State“). [9] For distinction, “ Ministers of State “ (known before 1977 as “ Parliamentary Secretaries „) – informally called „junior ministers“ – are not members of Government. A Government Minister (before 1977 „Minister of State“) is usually in charge of the Department of State and thus technically „Minister of Government“. A minister without portfolio may be appointed to the Government who is not the head of the Department of State;Frank Aiken served as Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures until 1945.

Non-members attending cabinet

Non-member and non-executive members of the Cabinet may be fully and generally accepted. Votes are rare however, with the cabinet usually following the Taoiseach or working by consensus.

The Government is advised by the Attorney General , who is not formally a member of the Government, but who participates in cabinet meetings as part of their role as legal advisor to the Government.

The Chief Whip may attend meetings of the Cabinet, but is not a member of the Government. [10]

In addition, the Government can choose other Ministers of State (junior ministers), who can expect cabinet meetings. This person is informally Known As has Super Junior Minister „. [10] The current (2016) Super Junior Ministers are Paul Kehoe and Finian McGrath .

Term of office

Normally, the Government serves the office until the appointment of a new Taoiseach by Dáil Éireann. The maximum term is 5 years old by law, though the constitution allows seven. Most governments in recent years have served 4-5 years.

The Government must enjoy the confidence of Dáil Éireann if it is to remain in office. If the Taoiseach CEASES „to retain the backing of a majorité in Dáil Éireann“ Either Dáil Éireann must be Dissolved gold the Taoiseach must resign. [11] This applies only in cases of no-confidence vote or loss of supply (rejection of a budget), rather than a government bill being rejected. The President may refuse to grant a dissolution to a Taoiseach who does not enjoy the support of the Dáil, thus forcing the resignation of the Taoiseach.

When the Taoiseach resigns, the entire Government is deemed to have resigned as a collective. However, in such a scenario, according to the Constitution, „the Taoiseach and the other members of the Government shall continue to carry out their duties to their successors shall have been appointed“. The Taoiseach may also direct the President to dismiss or accept the resignation of individual ministers.

On the dissolution of Dáil Éireann, Ministers are no longer members of the Oireachtas, and therefore at first glance ineligible for office. However, under a different clause in the Constitution, they „shall continue to have their successors shall have been appointed“. [12]

Authority and powers

The Government of the United Kingdom and de facto executive authority in Ireland. The Constitution explicitly vests executive authority in the Government, not the President. In other parliamentary regimes, the head of state is usually the nominal chief executive, although bound by convention to act on the advice of the cabinet.

The executive authority of the Government is subject to certain limitations. In particular:

  • The state may not declare war , or participate in a war, without the consent of the Dáil Éireann. In the case of „actual invasion“, however, „the Government may take whatever steps they may consider necessary for the protection of the State“ [13]
  • Treaties must be laid before Dáil Éireann.
  • The Government must act in accordance with the Constitution.

Are responsible for the actions of the government. Each minister is responsible for the actions of his or her department. Departments of State do not have legal personalities. Actions of departments are usually under the title, when the minister has little knowledge of these actions. This contradicts the rule in common law that a person can not delegate power. [14] This leads to a sentence in correspondence by government departments, „the Minister has directed me to write“, on letters or documents that the minister in question may never have seen.

The functions of government ministers are often transferred between departments during cabinet reshuffles or after elections. It is possible, a ministerial position will cease to exist, as its powers to another office. Such ministerial positions include the Ministers for Labor , Posts and Telegraphs , Public Service and Supplies .

If the Government should fail to fulfill its constitutional duties, it may be ordered to do so by a court of law, by a writ of mandamus . Ministers who fail to comply may, ultimately, be found in contempt of court , and even imprisoned.


The First Government of Ireland took office on December 29, 1937 on the coming into force of the Constitution of Ireland . It was preceded by the Executive Council of the Irish Free State , which operated from 1922 to 1937 as the executive of the Irish Free State .

The detail and structure of the Government of Ireland had its legislative basis in the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924 ; it has been amended 1924 to 2017 and is construed together as one Act.

All Governments from 1989 to 2016 were coalitions of two or more parties. The first coalition government was formed in 1948. The Taoiseach has always been a member of the largest party in the coalition. The Taoiseach has almost always been the leader of that party, with John A. Costello , Taoiseach from 1948 to 1951 and from 1954 to 1957, the only exception to this rule.

Public service

Main article: Public service of the Republic of Ireland
Government Buildings in Dublin.

The public service in Ireland refers to the totality of public administration in Ireland. As of Q3, 2016 the total number of employees in the Irish public service stands at 304,472 people. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform olefins the public service have comprenant seven sectors: the Civil Service , Defense Sector , Education Sector , Health Sector , Justice Sector , Local Authorities and Non-Commercial State Agencies ; such as Bord Bia , IDA Ireland and the Commission for Energy Regulation . Commercialstate-owned bodies such as RTÉ , ESB Groupand An Post are not considered part of the public service in Ireland.

The largest sector is over 105,000 employees (largely in the Health Service Executive ), followed by the sector with approximately 98,450. [15]

Public service employees

Sector Employees
Civil Service 37.523
Defense Sector 9.549
Education Sector 98.450
Health Sector 105.885
Justice Sector 13.261
Local Authorities 27.188
NCSA 12.616
Total 304.475

Largest public sector bodies by employees

Agency / Body Employees
Health Service Executive 67.145
Garda Síochána 13.261
Irish Defense Forces 9.549
Revenue Commissioners 6,039
Dublin City Council 5,330
Irish Prison Service 3,247

Civil service

Main article: Civil service of the Republic of Ireland

The civil service of Ireland consists of two broad components, the Civil Service of the Government and the Civil Service of the State . While this partition is quite theoretical, the two parts of some fundamental operational differences. The civil service is expected to maintain political impartiality in its work, and some parts of it are entirely independent of government decision making.

Current Government of Ireland

Main article: Government of the 32nd Dáil § 31st Government of Ireland

Leo Varadkar was elected as Taoiseach by Dáil Éireann on 14 June 2017, [16] and the Dáil approved the new government later that day. [17] Ministers are listed here by seniority. [18]

Office name Party Term
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Fine Gael 2017-present
Minister for Defense
Tánaiste Simon Coveney
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton
Minister for Justice and Equality Charles Flanagan
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys
Minister for Health Simon Harris
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten Independent
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone
Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring Fine Gael
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy
Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan

See also

  • Irish law firms since 1919
  • Politics of the Republic of Ireland


  1. Jump up^ „Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924 (Section 2 – Ministers to be corporations and certain powers.)“ . Attorney General of Ireland. 1924 . Retrieved 22 January 2011 .
  2. Jump up^ Constitution of Ireland,Article 28, Section 1
  3. Jump up^ „History of Government – Eighteenth Dáil“ . Department of the Taoiseach . Retrieved 23 January 2018 .
  4. Jump up^ Constitution of Ireland,Section 28, Section 2, Subsection 2.
  5. Jump up^ Constitution of Ireland,Section 28, Section 2, Subsection 1.
  6. ^ Jump up to:b O’Toole, John; Dooney, Sean (24 July 2009). Irish Government Today. Gill & Macmillan Ltd. p. 9. ISBN  9780717145522 .
  7. Jump up^ „History of Government – Seventh Dáil“ . Department of the Taoiseach . Retrieved 23 January 2018 .
  8. Jump up^ „History of Government – Eighth Dáil“ . Department of the Taoiseach . Retrieved 23 January 2018 .
  9. Jump up^ „Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1977 (Section 4 – Amendment of Interpretation Act, 1937)“ . Attorney General of Ireland. 1937 . Retrieved 22 January 2011 .
  10. ^ Jump up to:b „The Appointments“ . The Irish Times . March 11, 2011 . Retrieved 7 September 2011 .
  11. Jump up^ Constitution of Ireland,Article 28, Section 10.
  12. Jump up^ Constitution of Ireland,Article 28, Section 11.
  13. Jump up^ Constitution of Ireland,Article 28, Section 3.
  14. Jump up^ Devanney c. Shields[1998] 1 IR 231
  15. Jump up^ „Public Expenditure Department & Reform – Databank – Public Service Numbers“ . Department of Public Expenditure & Reform . Retrieved 8 January 2017 .
  16. Jump up^ „Oireachtas Debates Appointment of Taoiseach (Resumed) (Continued) Wednesday, 14 June 2017“ . Houses of the Oireachtas . Retrieved 5 December 2017 .
  17. Jump up^ „Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government Wednesday, 14 June 2017“ . Houses of the Oireachtas . Retrieved 5 December 2017 .
  18. Jump up^ „List of Ministers and Ministers of State“ . Department of the Taoiseach . Retrieved 5 December 2017 .