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the Republic of Ireland
The Council of State (Irish : an Chomhairle Stáit ) is a body established by the Constitution of Ireland to advise the President of Ireland in the exercise of many of his or her discretionary, reserve powers. It also has authority to provide for the temporary exercise of the duties of the president in the event that these cannot be exercised by either the president or the Presidential Commission (an eventuality that is very unlikely to occur, since it would require the simultaneous absence of the President and two members of the three-member Commission).
Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of non-habitual speakers across the country. A speaker of the Irish language is known as a Gaeilgeoir.
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Republic of Ireland. It asserts the national sovereignty of the Irish people. The constitution falls broadly within the tradition of liberal democracy, being based on a system of representative democracy. It guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected non-executive president, a bicameral parliament based on the Westminster system, a separation of powers and judicial review.
The President of Ireland is the head of state of Ireland and the Supreme Commander of the Irish Defence Forces.
The Council of State consists of a number of government officials, who sit ex officio , as well as certain former office holders and up to seven individuals of the president's own choosing. The ex officio members comprise the attorney general as well as individuals from each of three branches of government: legislature, executive and judiciary.
The Attorney General of Ireland is a constitutional officer who is the legal adviser to the Government and is therefore the chief law officer of the State. The Attorney General is not a member of the Government but does participate in cabinet meetings when invited and attends government meetings. The current Attorney General is Séamus Woulfe, SC.
A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country or city. Legislatures form important parts of most governments; in the separation of powers model, they are often contrasted with the executive and judicial branches of government.
The executive is the organ exercising authority in and holding responsibility for the governance of a state. The executive executes and enforces law.
Unlike most of the president's other duties, which must be conducted in accordance with the advice of the cabinet, the seven presidential appointees to the Council of State are chosen at the president's absolute discretion.These appointees retain their positions until the president's successor takes office.
The Government of Ireland is the cabinet that exercises executive authority in Ireland.
|Ex officio: executive||Taoiseach (prime minister)||Leo Varadkar|
|Tánaiste (deputy prime minister)||Simon Coveney|
|Ex officio: legislature||Ceann Comhairle (Speaker of Dáil Éireann)||Seán Ó Fearghaíl|
|Cathaoirleach (Chairperson of Seanad Éireann)||Denis O'Donovan|
|Ex officio: judiciary||Chief Justice||Frank Clarke|
|President of the Court of Appeal||George Birmingham|
|President of the High Court||Peter Kelly|
|Ex officio||Attorney General||Séamus Woulfe|
|Former officeholders||President||Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese|
|Taoiseach||John Bruton, Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen, Enda Kenny|
|Chief Justice||Ronan Keane, John L. Murray, Susan Denham|
|President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State||None|
|President's nominees||(List of former nominees)||Cara Augustenborg, Sinéad Burke, Sindy Joyce, Maurice Malone, Johnston McMaster, Mary Murphy, Seán Ó Cuirreáin|
The Constitution explicitly states that members appointed by the President may resign,or be dismissed by the President. Former office holders are members if "able and willing to act as a member", which implies an ability to resign; but there is no provision for dismissing them. When the McCracken Tribunal found in 1997 that former Taoiseach Charles Haughey had misled the Tribunal, there were calls for him to formally resign from the Council of State. He did not do so, although he sent his regrets to subsequent meetings of the Council until his death.
Charles James Haughey was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as Taoiseach on three different occasions, 1979 to 1981, March 1982 to December 1982 and 1987 to 1992. He was also Minister for the Gaeltacht from 1987 to 1992, Leader of the Opposition from 1981 to 1982 and 1982 to 1987, Leader of Fianna Fáil from 1979 to 1992, Minister for Social Welfare and Minister for Health from 1977 to 1979, Minister for Finance from 1966 to 1970, Minister for Agriculture from 1964 to 1966, Minister for Justice from 1961 to 1964 and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Justice from 1959 to 1961. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1957 to 1992.
Members of the Council of State may be excused from jury duty.
Jury duty or jury service is service as a juror in a legal proceeding.
The Constitution specifies a declaration of office, "in the presence of Almighty God", which a new member must take before attending an official meeting.Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore, a declared agnostic, sought legal advice before attending the 2013 Council meeting. The 1996 Constitutional Review Group recommended making the religious part optional.
An oath of office is an oath or affirmation a person takes before undertaking the duties of an office, usually a position in government or within a religious body, although such oaths are sometimes required of officers of other organizations. Such oaths are often required by the laws of the state, religious body, or other organization before the person may actually exercise the powers of the office or any religious body. It may be administered at an inauguration, coronation, enthronement, or other ceremony connected with the taking up of office itself, or it may be administered privately. In some cases it may be administered privately and then repeated during a public ceremony.
Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable. Another definition provided is the view that "human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist."
Before exercising any reserve power but one, the President is required to seek the advice of the Council of State, although not required to follow its advice. The one exception, where the President has "absolute discretion",is in deciding to refuse a dissolution to a Taoiseach who has lost the confidence of the Dáil. The remaining discretionary powers, which do require prior consultation with the Council of State, are as follows (for a detailed description of the president's reserve powers see: President of Ireland#Discretionary powers):
The draft of the Constitution gave more powers to the Council of State. Article 13 allows additional powers to be given to the President acting on the advice of the Government; originally, it was the advice of the Council of State that was to be required.Article 14 provides for a Presidential Commission as the collective vice-presidency of the state when the President is absent; originally the Council of State was to fill this function. Nevertheless, under Article 14.4 of the constitution the Council of State, acting by a majority of its members, has authority to "make such provision as to them may seem meet" for the exercise of the duties of the president in any contingency the constitution does not foresee. This provision has never been invoked.
The Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, which was defeated at a referendum, gave a role for the Council of State in the work of an envisaged constituency boundary commission.
Close to the time of its inception, the Council of State was likened to a privy council,although Jim Duffy calls this "more apparent than real" as it has no legislative or judicial functions. Gemma Hussey, who was a member of the Council of State in 1989–90, described it as "largely a symbolic body".
Working meetings called by the President for consultation under the terms of the Constitution are rare, though less so since the election of Mary Robinson in 1990. Four meetings have related to an address the Oireachtas, which requires the approval of the Government as well as the consultation of the Council of State. All other meetings have been to advise the President about whether to refer a bill to the Supreme Court.
Meetings are held in Áras an Uachtaráin.Members arrive 15 minutes before the meeting starts, and are served light refreshments in the Council of State Room. At the first meeting of the Council in Mary McAleese's first term, there was a photocall in the State Reception Rooms. The Council's deliberations are held in camera, as for cabinet meetings, though there is no explicit requirement for confidentiality. The Irish Times obtained details of a 1984 meeting from an unnamed attendee, while James Dooge discussed a 1976 meeting years later with journalist Stephen Collins. Members are seated in order of precedence in the Presidents' Room around a 1927 dining table purchased by President de Valera in 1961. The Secretary-General to the President serves as clerk to the Council. The Council does not offer collective advice; the President asks each member in turn to comment, and further discussion may involve several members.
Apart from the Council of State's official meetings, its members are invited to important state functions, such as state funerals, the National Day of Commemoration, and the inauguration of the next President. The first President, Douglas Hyde, dined monthly with the members of his Council of State.The seven new Presidential nominees of Mary McAleese's second term were introduced at a luncheon in the Áras the month after their appointment. Campaigning in the 1990 presidential election, Mary Robinson promised to have meetings of the Council regularly rather than on "an emergency basis".
|Date of meeting||President||Topic of Address||Date of Address (link to text)||Notes|
|20 December 1968||Éamon de Valera||50th anniversary of the First Dáil||21 January 1969||Brendan Corish was the only absentee from the Council of State meeting.|
|29 June 1992||Mary Robinson||"the Irish Identity in Europe"||8 July 1992|
|24 January 1995||Mary Robinson||"Cherishing the Irish Diaspora"||2 February 1995|
|28 October 1999||Mary McAleese||Marking the millennium||16 December 1999||Charles Haughey, Albert Reynolds, and Mary Robinson were absent.|
In some cases, the President has decided to sign the bill (thereby enacting it) without referring it to the Supreme Court; in other cases, the President has referred the bill (or sections of it) and the court has upheld its constitutionality; and in other cases the Court has found some or all of the referred portions to be unconstitutional. It is not revealed whether some or all members of the Council of State counselled for or against the President's course of action.
Jim Duffy in 1991 criticised the lack of supporting resources for members of the Council; at meetings they were provided only with a copy of the Constitution.By contrast, prior to the 2013 meeting to discuss the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, a dossier of background information was sent to each member, including legal briefs and news reports.
Although the serving Chief Justice is a member of the Council, by convention they do not get involved in substantive discussions on the bill, as they will be involved in the deliberations if the bill does get referred.Therefore, retired Chief Justices and the President of the High Court play a greater role in the discussion. The 2013 meeting was the first at which two serving members of the Supreme Court were present, as John Murray is an ex-Chief Justice but was then an ordinary member of the Court, the first such since the term of the Chief Justice was limited to seven years in 1997.
|Date of meeting||Bill (section)||President||Outcome||Notes|
|8 January 1940||Offences against the State (Amendment) Bill, 1940||Douglas Hyde||Referred and upheld||See Offences against the State Acts 1939–1998. W. T. Cosgrave was the only absent member of the Council. The Dublin North-West branch of the Labour Party passed a resolution urging William Norton to withdraw from the Council "which exists for the purpose of endorsing Fianna Fáil restrictions on liberty". Hyde instructed attendees not to discuss "political considerations" or "legal arguments", which limited the value of the meeting.|
|25 February 1943||School Attendance Bill, 1942||Douglas Hyde||Referred and struck down||Hyde's 1940 instruction was not repeated, after De Valera advised Michael McDunphy, Secretary-General to the President, that it was unhelpful.|
|13 August 1947||Health Bill, 1947||Seán T. O'Kelly||Signed without referral||Absentees were George Gavan Duffy, Douglas Hyde, Timothy Sullivan, W. T. Cosgrave, and Richard Mulcahy.|
|14 June 1961||Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1961||Éamon de Valera||Referred and upheld|
|6 March 1967||Income Tax Bill, 1966||Éamon de Valera||Signed without referral||All members attended. On 7 March, before the President announced a decision, the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 1967 was introduced and passed by the Oireachtas. This pre-emptively cancelled the contentious sections of the original Bill. Next day, the President signed both bills into law.|
|10 March 1976||Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill, 1975||Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh||Referred and upheld||James Dooge, Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, was absent.|
|23 September 1976 (a)||Emergency Powers Bill, 1976||Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh||Referred and upheld||The meeting, which discussed two bills, lasted 4 hours. Maurice E. Dockrell was the only absentee. President Ó Dálaigh and Attorney General Declan Costello debated points of law in great detail. Minister Paddy Donegan described the President's decision to refer the bill as a "thundering disgrace", precipitating Ó Dálaigh's resignation. James Dooge later suggested that Ó Dálaigh was more concerned with asserting his right to refer the bill than casting doubt on its Constitutionality. As the bill was formally stated to be emergency legislation, most Constitutional safeguards did not apply to it.|
|23 September 1976 (b)||Criminal Law Bill, 1976||Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh||Signed without referral||Same meeting as preceding|
|22 December 1981||Housing (Private Rented Dwellings Bill), 1981||Patrick Hillery||Referred and struck down|
|20 December 1983||Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1983||Patrick Hillery||Referred and struck down||Absentees were Siobhán McKenna, Seán McEntee, and James Dillon. The bill would have given British citizens the right to vote in all elections in the Republic of Ireland. The Ninth Amendment of the Constitution in 1984 removed the obstacle with regard to Dáil elections but not Presidential elections or referenda (ordinary or constitutional). The Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1985 extended the franchise for Dáil elections.|
|5 December 1984||Criminal Justice Bill, 1983||Patrick Hillery||Signed without referral||Siobhán McKenna and Máirín Bean Uí Dhálaigh were absent.|
|22 June 1988||Adoption (No. 2) Bill, 1987||Patrick Hillery||Referred and upheld||Absentees were Tom O'Higgins and Jack Lynch.|
|30 October 1991||Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1990||Mary Robinson||Signed without referral|
|1 December 1993||Matrimonial Home Bill, 1993||Mary Robinson||Referred and struck down|
|1 March 1994||Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill, 1993||Mary Robinson||Signed without referral|
|16 March 1995||Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State For Termination of Pregnancies) Bill, 1995||Mary Robinson||Referred and upheld||The act sprang from the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland in 1992. See also abortion in the Republic of Ireland.|
|1 April 1997||Employment Equality Bill, 1996||Mary Robinson||Referred and struck down||15 of 22 members attended, including the Taoiseach. After the bill was struck down, the Employment Equality Act 1998 was passed instead.|
|6 May 1997||Equal Status Bill, 1997||Mary Robinson||Referred and struck down||Charles Haughey was absent.|
|30 June 2000 (a)||Planning and Development Bill 1999||Mary McAleese||Referred Part V; upheld|
|30 June 2000 (b)||Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill 1999||Mary McAleese||Referred §§ 5 and 10; upheld||Same meeting as preceding|
|8 April 2002||Section 24 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) Bill, 2001||Mary McAleese||Signed without referral|
|21 December 2004||Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2004||Mary McAleese||Referred and struck down||Charles Haughey was the only absentee.|
|9 May 2007||Criminal Justice Bill 2007||Mary McAleese||Signed without referral|
|22 July 2009 (a)||Defamation Bill 2006||Mary McAleese||Signed without referral||19 of 22 members of the Council were present; the meeting lasted over 3 hours. See also blasphemy law in Ireland.|
|22 July 2009 (b)||Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009||Mary McAleese||Signed without referral||Same meeting as preceding|
|21 December 2010||Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill 2010||Mary McAleese||Signed without referral||See 2008–2011 Irish banking crisis|
|29 July 2013||Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013||Michael D. Higgins||Signed without referral||See Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013. Of 24 members, 21 attended; Mary Robinson, John Bruton and Albert Reynolds were absent, though Robinson and Bruton made written submissions. The meeting ran from 3.15pm to 6.45pm.|
|29 December 2015||International Protection Bill 2015||Michael D. Higgins||Signed without referral||Liam Cosgrave, Mary Robinson and Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh did not attend. The press release stated the meeting would consider whether: |
The President of India is the ceremonial head of state of India and the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces.
The Constitution of the Irish Free State was adopted by Act of Dáil Éireann sitting as a constituent assembly on 25 October 1922. In accordance with Article 83 of the Constitution, the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922 of the British Parliament, which came into effect upon receiving the royal assent on 5 December 1922, provided that the Constitution would come into effect upon the issue of a Royal Proclamation, which was done on 6 December 1922. In 1937 the Constitution of the Irish Free State was replaced by the modern Constitution of Ireland following a referendum.
The Presidential Commission is the collective vice-presidency of Ireland.
The Supreme Court of Ireland is the highest judicial authority in Ireland. It is a court of final appeal and exercises, in conjunction with the Court of Appeal and the High Court, judicial review over Acts of the Oireachtas. The Supreme Court also has jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the Constitution of Ireland by governmental bodies and private citizens. It sits in the Four Courts in Dublin.
The Ninth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1984 is an amendment to the Constitution of Ireland that allowed for the extension of the right to vote in elections to Dáil Éireann to non-Irish citizens. It was approved by referendum on 14 June 1984, the same day as the European Parliament election, and signed into law on 2 August of the same year.
The Twenty-third Amendment of the Constitution Act 2001 of the Constitution of Ireland permitted the state to become a party to the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was approved by referendum on 7 June 2001 and signed into law on the 27 March 2002. The referendum was held on the same day as referendums on the prohibition of the death penalty, which was also approved, and on the ratification of the Nice Treaty, which was rejected.
The Twenty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Act 2002 is an amendment of the Constitution of Ireland which permitted the state to ratify the Treaty of Nice. It was approved by referendum on 19 October 2002 and signed into law on 7 November of the same year. The amendment followed a previous failed attempt to approve the Nice Treaty which was rejected in the first Nice referendum held in 2001.
Amendments to the Constitution of Ireland are only possible by way of referendum. A proposal to amend the Constitution of Ireland must first be approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas (parliament), then submitted to a referendum, and finally signed into law by the President of Ireland. Since the constitution entered into force on 29 December 1937, there have been 32 amendments to the constitution.
An ordinary referendum in Ireland is a referendum on a bill other than a bill to amend the Constitution. The Constitution prescribes the process in Articles 27 and 47. Whereas a constitutional referendum is mandatory for a constitutional amendment bill, an ordinary referendum occurs only if the bill "contains a proposal of such national importance that the will of the people thereon ought to be ascertained". This is decided at the discretion of the President, after a petition by Oireachtas members including a majority of Senators. No such petition has ever been presented, and thus no ordinary referendum has ever been held.
The Second Amendment of the Constitution Act 1941 is an amendment of the Constitution of Ireland that was in the form of omnibus legislation affecting a variety of articles on a range of subject matters. It was signed into law on 30 May 1941.
The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1995 is an amendment of the Constitution of Ireland which removed the constitutional prohibition on divorce, and allowed for the dissolution of a marriage provided specified conditions were satisfied. It was approved by referendum on 24 November 1995 and signed into law on 17 June 1996.
The Executive Powers Act, 1937 was an Act of the Oireachtas which retrospectively completed the abolition of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State.
The Twenty-ninth Amendment of the Constitution Act 2011 is an amendment to the Constitution of Ireland which relaxes the previous prohibition on the reduction of the salaries of Irish judges. It was approved by a referendum on 27 October 2011 signed into law on 17 November 2011. It was held on the same day as a referendum on Oireachtas Inquiries, which was rejected, and the presidential election at which Michael D. Higgins was elected.
The Thirty-first Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Act 2012 amended the Constitution of Ireland by inserting clauses relating to children's rights and the right and duty of the state to take child protection measures. It was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas (parliament) on 10 October 2012, and approved at a referendum on 10 November 2012, by 58% of voters on a turnout of 33.5%. Its enactment was delayed by a High Court case challenging the conduct of the referendum. The High Court's rejection of the challenge was confirmed by the Supreme Court on 24 April 2015. It was signed into law by the President on 28 April 2015.
The Thirty-third Amendment of the Constitution Act 2013 is an amendment to the Constitution of Ireland which established a Court of Appeal to sit between the existing High and Supreme Courts for the purpose of taking over most of the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The amendment was approved by the electorate in a referendum on 4 October 2013, and then signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins on 1 November 2013.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 was an Act of the Oireachtas which, until 2018, defined the circumstances and processes within which abortion in Ireland could be legally performed. The act gave effect in statutory law to the terms of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the 1992 judgment Attorney General v. X. That judgment allowed for abortion where pregnancy endangers a woman's life, including through a risk of suicide. The provisions relating to suicide had been the most contentious part of the bill. Having passed both Houses of the Oireachtas in July 2013, it was signed into law on 30 July by Michael D. Higgins, the President of Ireland, and commenced on 1 January 2014. The 2013 Act was repealed by the Health Act 2018, which commenced on 1 January 2019.
The Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2015 was a proposed amendment to the constitution of Ireland to reduce the minimum age of candidacy for the office of President of Ireland from 35 to 21. The bill was introduced to the Oireachtas in January 2015 by the Fine Gael–Labour government, after which both houses of the Oireachtas passed the bill. The bill was rejected by the electorate in a referendum on 22 May 2015 by 73.1% against to 26.9% in favour. This was the largest losing margin of any referendum in Ireland.
The Thirty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland is an amendment to the Constitution of Ireland which altered the provisions regulating divorce. It removed the constitutional requirement for a defined period of separation before a Court may grant a dissolution of marriage, and eased restrictions on the recognition of foreign divorces. The amendment was effected by an act of the Oireachtas, the Thirty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act 2019.
the only absentee was the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey
The new body may be said to be analogous to the old-time Privy Council, with the important difference that it is purely advisory, and has, in fact, no definite powers.
The Privy Council in Ireland disappeared with the Viceroy and the rule of Dublin Castle; it comes back as the President's Council of State
Wednesday, 15th December 2004 ... 12:30 pm Áras an Uachtaráin: President hosts lunch for newly-appointed members of the Council of State
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