|Ceann Comhairle of
|Appointer||Elected by the members of Dáil Éireann at start of a new term after a general election.|
|Term length||No term limits are imposed on the office.|
|Inaugural holder||Cathal Brugha|
|Formation||21 January 1919|
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politics and government of
the Republic of Ireland
The Ceann Comhairle (Irish pronunciation: [caːn̪ˠ ˈkoːɾʲlʲə], "head of the council") is the chairperson (or speaker) of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (parliament) of Ireland. The person who holds the position is elected by members of the Dáil from among their number in the first session after each general election. The Ceann Comhairle of the 31st Dáil is Seán Barrett, TD.
The Ceann Comhairle is expected to observe strict impartiality. Despite this, a government usually tries to select a member of its own political party for the position, if it has enough deputies to allow that choice. In order to protect the neutrality of the chair, the Constitution of Ireland provides that an incumbent Ceann Comhairle does not seek re-election as a Teachta Dála (Deputy to the Dáil) but rather is deemed automatically to have been re-elected by their constituency at a general election, unless they are retiring.[fn 1] As a consequence, the constituency that an incumbent Ceann Comhairle represents elects one fewer TD in a general election than its usual entitlement, but still has the same number of TDs.
The Ceann Comhairle does not take part in debates nor vote except in the event of a tie. In this event he generally votes in accordance with the parliamentary conventions relating to the Speaker of the British House of Commons, which tend to amount to voting against motions. The Ceann Comhairle formally opens each day's sitting by reading the official prayer. The Ceann Comhairle is the sole judge of order in the house and has a number of special functions. Specifically, the Ceann Comhairle:
- Calls on members to speak. All speeches must be addressed to the Ceann Comhairle.
- Puts such questions to the house and supervises and declares the results of divisions.
- Has authority to suppress disorder. To ensure obedience to his rulings the Ceann Comhairle may order members to withdraw from the Dáil or suspend an individual from the House for a period. In the case of great disorder the Ceann Comhairle can suspend or adjourn the house.
- Rings a bell when deputies are out of order. The bell is a half-sized reproduction of the ancient bell of Lough Lene Castle found at Castle Island, Lough Lene, Castlepollard, County Westmeath in 1881 and now in the National Museum. The reproduction was presented in 1931 by the widow of Bryan Cooper, a former TD.
The position of Ceann Comhairle is as old as the Dáil, which was first established in 1919. The first Ceann Comhairle was Cathal Brugha, who served for only one day, presiding over the house's symbolic first meeting, before leaving the post to become Príomh Aire (prime minister). The office was continued under the 1922–1937 Irish Free State, the constitution of which referred to the office-holder as the "Chairman of Dáil Éireann". The practice of automatically re-electing the Ceann Comhairle in a general election was introduced by a constitutional amendment in 1927. For a brief period from 1936 to 1937, following the abolition of the office of Governor-General, certain of the Governor-General's functions were transferred to the Ceann Comhairle, who was assigned the role of signing bills into law and convening and dissolving the Dáil. The position of Ceann Comhairle was retained when the Constitution of Ireland was adopted in 1937, as was the practice of automatic re-election.
List of office-holders
The Leas-Cheann Comhairle holds office as the Deputy Chairman of Dáil Éireann under Article 15.9.1 of the Constitution. In the absence of the Ceann Comhairle, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle deputises and performs the duties and exercises the authority of the Ceann Comhairle in Dáil proceedings. The current Leas-Cheann Comhairle is Fianna Fáil TD, Michael Kitt. By tradition, the position is reserved for the Opposition, but the appointment is made by the Taoiseach of the day. The role carries the same pay and the same status as that of a Minister of State.
- Politics of the Republic of Ireland
- History of the Republic of Ireland
- Dáil Éireann (Irish Republic)
- Dáil Éireann (Irish Free State)
- Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly
- O'Connor, Tom; O'Halloran, Anthony (2008). "8: An Ceann Comhairle". Politics in a Changing Ireland 1960-2007: A Tribute to Seamus Pattison. Institute of Public Administration. pp. 121–138. ISBN 9781904541691. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "Role of the Ceann Comhairle". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
- "CONSTITUTION OF IRELAND". Irish Statute Book. pp. Article 16.6. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- O'Connor and O'Halloran 2008 pp.124–7
- "Electoral Act, 1992, Section 36". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "Members of the Commission". Commission for Public Service Appointments. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- "Ceann Comhairle – History". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- "Constitution (Amendment No. 2) Act, 1927". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- Count Plunkett briefly chaired the Dáil on 22 January 1919. Seán T. O'Kelly was elected Ceann Comhairle later in the same day.
- "Role of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- McGee, Harry (1 April 2011). "FF TD selected by Taoiseach to serve as Leas-Cheann Comhairle". The Irish Times.