SPEAKING IN THE HOUSE
Authority in Ireland is divided between the Legislature (the Oireachtas), the Executive (the Government) and the Judiciary (the courts). Our Constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann, provides for a separation of these powers, so none of the three organs of State can interfere with the functions of the other two.
The Oireachtas is the only body that has the power to make laws. The Oireachtas consists of a bicameral chamber and the President of Ireland. “Bicameral” means it comprises two Houses, a Lower House, Dáil Éireann, and an Upper House, Seanad Éireann. The Constitution states that the Government must answer to Dáil Éireann.
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.
On a typical sitting day, the Dáil may debate a proposed law, called a Bill, and decide whether or not to pass it to the next Stage. Members may ask questions of the Taoiseach, Tánaiste or a particular Minister. Any questions that are not answered in the Dáil receive written answers from the relevant Minister. TDs may also ask the Government about the progress of legislation. Time is allocated in the Dáil for Members to raise Topical Issues, which are often specific constituency issues. There may also be Private Members’ time, during which Opposition Members may propose motions or introduce Bills.