|Government of Ireland|
|Irish: Rialtas na hÉireann|
|Established||29 December 1937|
The Government of Ireland (Irish : Rialtas na hÉireann) is the cabinet that exercises executive authority in Ireland.
The Constitution of Ireland vests executive authority in a government which is headed by the Taoiseach , the head of government. The government is composed of ministers, each of whom must be a member of the Oireachtas , which consists of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann . The Taoiseach must be nominated by the Dáil, the house of representatives. Following the nomination of the Dáil, the President of Ireland appoints the Taoiseach to their role. The President also appoints members of the government, including the Tánaiste , the deputy head of government, on the nomination of the Taoiseach and their approval by the Dáil. The government is dependent upon the Oireachtas to pass 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. The Government is also known as the cabinet.
The current government took office on 27 June 2020 with Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil , as Taoiseach . The Tánaiste is Leo Varadkar, leader of Fine Gael . It is a minority coalition government of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party. It was formed after protracted government negotiations following a general election on 8 February 2020.
Membership of the cabinet is regulated by Article 28 of the Constitution of Ireland and by the Ministers and Secretaries Acts 1924 to 2017.The Constitution requires the government to consist of between seven and fifteen members, all of whom must be a member of the Oireachtas.
Since the formation of the 12th Government of Ireland in 1966, all Irish cabinets have been formed with the constitutional maximum of fifteen ministers. The total sometimes falls below this number for brief periods following the resignation of individual ministers or the withdrawal of a party from a coalition.
No more than two members of the cabinet may be members of Seanad Éireann . All other members of the cabinet must be members of Dáil Éireann, the house of representatives. The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Finance must be members of the Dáil. In practice, however, the members of the cabinet are invariably members of the Dáil. Since the adoption of the 1937 constitution, only two ministers have been appointed from the Seanad: Seán Moylan who served in 1957 as Minister for Agriculture and James Dooge who served as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1981 to 1982. Joseph Connolly, a member of the Free State Seanad, had served in the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1932 to 1933 as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, and from 1933 to 1936 as Minister for Lands and Fisheries.
A member of the government in charge of a Department of State is designated a Minister of the Government (before 1977 this position was termed Minister of State).For distinction, Ministers of State (known before 1977 as Parliamentary Secretaries) — informally called junior ministers — are not Ministers of the Government, but assist those Ministers in their Departments. A minister without portfolio may be appointed to the Government who is not the head of a Department of State; this occurred during the period known in Ireland as the Emergency when Frank Aiken served as Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures from 1939 until 1945. The functions of government ministers are frequently transferred between departments during cabinet reshuffles or after elections. On occasion, a department of state will cease to exist, its functions being transferred to another department. Such defunct ministerial positions include the Ministers for Labour, Posts and Telegraphs, Public Service and Supplies.
Non-members have no voting rights at Cabinet but may otherwise participate fully, and normally receive circulated Cabinet papers on the same basis as a full member of Government. 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.In addition, the Government can select other Ministers of State who may attend cabinet meetings. Up to three Ministers of State who regularly attend cabinet meetings may receive an allowance. This person is informally known as a "super junior minister". Currently Jack Chambers, Hildegarde Naughton and Pippa Hackett are Ministers of State who attend cabinet. Trinity College Dublin law professor Oran Doyle has argued that this practice breaches cabinet confidentiality as required by the Constitution.
A new government is formed by the Taoiseach appointed after each general election after receiving the nomination of the Dáil. All members of the government are deemed to have resigned on the resignation of the Taoiseach. Therefore, a new government is appointed where there is a new Taoiseach within a single Dáil term. The Constitution allows a Dáil term of no more than seven years, but a shorter period may be specified by law; this has been set as a maximum of five years. The Taoiseach may at any time advise the President to dissolve the Dáil, prompting a new general election.The President retains absolute discretion to refuse to grant a dissolution to a Taoiseach who has lost the confidence of the Dáil. To date, no President has refused the request of a Taoiseach to dissolve the Dáil.
The Taoiseach must retain the confidence of Dáil Éireann to remain in office. If the Taoiseach ceases "to retain the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann", the Taoiseach must resign unless they seek a dissolution of the Dáil which is granted by the President. This applies only in cases of a motion of no confidence or loss of supply (rejection of a budget), rather than the defeat of the government in other legislation or Dáil votes.
The Taoiseach can direct the President to dismiss or accept the resignation of individual ministers. 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 on their duties until their successors shall have been appointed".
Upon the dissolution of Dáil Éireann, ministers are no longer members of the Oireachtas. However, the Constitution also provides that "the members of the Government in the office at the date of a dissolution of Dáil Éireann shall continue to hold office until their successors shall have been appointed".
Where the resignation of the Taoiseach and government is not immediately followed by the appointment by the president of a new Taoiseach on the nomination of the Dáil, the outgoing government continues as a caretaker government to "carry out their duties until their successors have been appointed". This has happened when no candidate was nominated for Taoiseach when the Dáil first assembled after a general election, or, on one occasion, where a Taoiseach had lost the confidence of the Dáil, but there was not a dissolution of the Dáil followed by a general election.
|Date of resignation||Taoiseach||Caretaker government||Date of new government||Taoiseach||Incoming government|
|26 June 1989||Charles Haughey||Fianna Fáil||12 July 1989||Charles Haughey||Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats|
|14 December 1992||Albert Reynolds||Fianna Fáil||12 January 1993||Albert Reynolds||Fianna Fáil–Labour|
|18 November 1994||Albert Reynolds||Fianna Fáil||15 December 1994||John Bruton||Fine Gael–Labour–Democratic Left|
|10 March 2016||Enda Kenny||Fine Gael–Labour||6 May 2016||Enda Kenny||Fine Gael–Independent|
|20 February 2020||Leo Varadkar||Fine Gael–Independent||27 June 2020||Micheál Martin||Fianna Fáil–Fine Gael–Green Party|
Unlike the cabinets in other parliamentary systems, the Government is both the de jure and de facto executive authority in Ireland. In some other parliamentary regimes, the head of state is the nominal chief executive, though bound by convention to act on the advice of the cabinet. In Ireland, however, the Constitution explicitly vests executive authority in the Government, not the President.
The executive authority of the Government is subject to certain limitations. In particular:
Government ministers are collectively 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 carried out under the title of ministers even, as is commonly the case when the minister has little knowledge of the details of these actions. This contradicts the rule in common law that a person given a statutory power cannot delegate that power.This leads to a phrase 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.
If the Government, or any member of the government, should fail to fulfil 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 to be in contempt of court, and even imprisoned.
Prior to independence, the executive of the unilaterally declared Irish Republic was the Ministry of Dáil Éireann. This was in operation from 1919 to 1922. After the approval of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in January 1922, a Provisional Government of Ireland was established as the executive. The personnel of the Provisional Government overlapped with the Ministry of Dáil Éireann, but they were not identical. On the independence of the Irish Free State on 6 December 1922, both executives were succeeded by the Executive Council of the Irish Free State. On 29 December 1937, on the coming into force of the Constitution of Ireland, the Eighth Executive Council of the Irish Free State became the First Government of Ireland.
The detail and structure of the Government of Ireland has its legislative basis in the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924; it has been amended on a number occasions, and these may be cited together as the Ministers and Secretaries Acts 1924 to 2017 and are construed together as one Act.
All Governments from 1989 to 2020 were coalitions of two or more parties. The first coalition government was formed in 1948. The Taoiseach has almost always been the leader of the largest party in the coalition, with John A. Costello, Taoiseach from 1948 to 1951 and from 1954 to 1957, the only exception to this rule.
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 defines the public service as comprising seven sectors: the Civil Service, Defence 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. Commercial state-owned bodies such as RTÉ, ESB Group and An Post are not considered part of the public service in Ireland.
The largest sector is the health sector with over 105,000 employees (largely in the Health Service Executive), followed by the education sector with approximately 98,450.
|Health Service Executive||67,145|
|Irish Defence Forces||9,549|
|Dublin City Council||5,330|
|Irish Prison Service||3,247|
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 largely theoretical, the two parts do have 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.
Micheál Martin was nominated as Taoiseach by Dáil Éireann on 27 June 2020 and appointed by the president.Martin proposed the nomination of the members of government, and after their approval by the Dáil, they were appointed by the president later that day. There have been a number of changes in the government since that date, notably the appointment of three different agriculture ministers.
|Taoiseach||Micheál Martin||Fianna Fáil||2020–present|
| Tánaiste |
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment
|Leo Varadkar||Fine Gael||2020–present|
|Minister for Finance||Paschal Donohoe||2017–present|
|Minister for Justice||Helen McEntee||2020–present|
| Minister for Foreign Affairs |
Minister for Defence
|Minister for Health||Stephen Donnelly||Fianna Fáil||2020–present|
|Minister for Education||Norma Foley||2020–present|
|Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform||Michael McGrath||2020–present|
|Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage||Darragh O'Brien||2020–present|
|Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine||Charlie McConalogue||2020–present|
| Minister for Social Protection |
Minister for Rural and Community Development
|Heather Humphreys||Fine Gael||2020–present|
|Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science||Simon Harris||2020–present|
| Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications |
Minister for Transport
|Eamon Ryan||Green Party||2020–present|
|Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media||Catherine Martin||2020–present|
|Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth||Roderic O'Gorman||2020–present|
|Also attending Cabinet|
| Government Chief Whip |
Minister of State for Gaeltacht and Sport
Minister of State at the Department of Defence
|Jack Chambers||Fianna Fáil||2020–present|
|Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity||Pippa Hackett||Green||2020–present|
|Minister of State for International and Road Transport and Logistics||Hildegarde Naughton||Fine Gael||2020–present|
The Government of the 29th Dáil or the 26th Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the 2002 general election which had been held on 17 May 2002. It was led by Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach, with Progressive Democrats leader Mary Harney as Tánaiste. It was the first, and to date only, coalition government to be returned to government after an election; both parties increased their number of seats, and together secured a Dáil majority, where in the previous government they had governed together as a minority government dependent on the support of Independent TDs.
The Government of the 28th Dáil or the 25th Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the 1997 general election which had been held on 6 June 1997. It was a minority coalition government of Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, led by Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach.
The Government of the 25th Dáil or the 20th Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the 1987 general election on 17 February 1987. It was a minority Fianna Fáil government which had the qualified support of Fine Gael, the main opposition party, an arrangement known as the Tallaght Strategy after a speech by its leader Alan Dukes. The national debt had doubled under the previous government. The government introduced budget cuts in all departments. The taxation system was also reformed. One of the major schemes put forward was the establishment of the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Dublin. During this period the Government organised the 1,000-year anniversary of the founding of Dublin.
There were two Government of the 26th Dáil, the first formed after the 1989 general election on 15 June 1989, was the 21st Government of Ireland (1989–1992) led by Charles Haughey as Taoiseach; and the second was the 22nd Government of Ireland (1992–1993) led by Albert Reynolds as Taoiseach. They were coalition governments of Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats.
The Government of the 24th Dáil or the 19th Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the November 1982 general election. It was a coalition government of Fine Gael and the Labour Party led by Garret FitzGerald as Taoiseach.
The Government of the 22nd Dáil or the 17th Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the 1981 general election. It was a minority coalition government of Fine Gael and the Labour Party led by Garret FitzGerald as Taoiseach.
There were two Governments of the 21st Dáil, which was elected at the 1977 general election on 16 June 1977. The 15th Government of Ireland was led by Jack Lynch as Taoiseach, while the 16th Government of Ireland was led by Charles Haughey. Both were single-party majority Fianna Fáil governments.
The Government of the 20th Dáil or the 14th Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the 1973 general election held on 28 February 1973. It was a coalition government of Fine Gael and the Labour Party, known as the National Coalition, led by Liam Cosgrave as Taoiseach with Brendan Corish as Tánaiste. It was the first time either of the parties had been in government since the Government of the 15th Dáil (1954–57), when they were in coalition with Clann na Talmhan.
There were two Governments of the 18th Dáil, which was elected at the general election held on 7 April 1965. The 11th Government of Ireland was led by Seán Lemass as Taoiseach, while the 12th Government of Ireland was led by Jack Lynch as Taoiseach. Both were single-party Fianna Fáil governments, which had been in government since the 1957 election.
There were two Governments of the 16th Dáil, which was elected at the general election held on 5 March 1957. The outgoing minority coalition government of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Clann na Talmhan had failed to be returned. The 8th Government of Ireland was led by Éamon de Valera as Taoiseach, and the 9th Government of Ireland was led by Seán Lemass as Taoiseach. Both were single-party Fianna Fáil governments.
The Government of the 13th Dáil or the 5th Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the general election held on 4 February 1948 — commonly known as the First Inter-Party Government — was a government of Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and the National Labour Party—and one TD who was an independent, James Dillon. The parties had many different aims and viewpoints, but opposition to Fianna Fáil overcame difficulties in forming a government; Éamon de Valera had led a series of single-party Fianna Fáil governments since 1932. The cabinet was made up of representatives of all parties, and ministers were given a great degree of independence. Some key events during the lifetime of the government include the declaration of the Republic of Ireland in 1948 and the crisis surrounding the Mother and Child Scheme in 1951.
The Government of the 12th Dáil or the 4th Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the 1944 general election held on 30 May. It was a single-party Fianna Fáil government led by Éamon de Valera as Taoiseach. Fianna Fáil had been in office since the 1932 general election.
The Government of the 10th Dáil or the 2nd Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the 1938 general election held on 17 June. It was a single-party Fianna Fáil government led by Éamon de Valera as Taoiseach. Fianna Fáil had been in office since the 1932 general election.
The Government of the 8th Dáil or the 7th Executive Council was the Executive Council of the Irish Free State formed after the general election held on 24 January 1933. It was led by Fianna Fáil leader Éamon de Valera as President of the Executive Council, who had first taken office in the Irish Free State after the 1932 general election. De Valera had previously served as President of Dáil Éireann, or President of the Republic, from April 1919 to January 1922 during the revolutionary period of the Irish Republic.
A Minister of State in Ireland is of non-cabinet rank attached to one or more Departments of State of the Government of Ireland and assists the Minister of the Government responsible for that Department.
The Ministers and Secretaries Acts 1924 to 2020 is the legislation which governs the appointment of ministers to the Government of Ireland and the allocation of functions between departments of state. It is subject in particular to the provisions of Article 28 of the Constitution of Ireland. The Acts allow for the appointment of between 7 and 15 Ministers of Government across 17 Departments, and for the appointment of up to 20 junior ministers, titled Ministers of State, to assist the Ministers of Government in their powers and duties.
The Government of the 31st Dáil or the 29th Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland which was formed following the 2011 general election to Dáil Éireann on 25 February 2011. It was a coalition government of Fine Gael and the Labour Party led by Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. From 2011 to 2014, Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore served as Tánaiste, and from 2014 to 2016, the new Labour leader Joan Burton served as Tánaiste.
The 24th Government of Ireland was the 2nd Government of the 27th Dáil. Known as the Rainbow Coalition, it was a coalition of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Democratic Left. The Labour Party had been part of the 23rd Government with Fianna Fáil, formed after the 1992 general election, but left in November 1994 following a number of scandals, particularly those which emerged from the Beef Tribunal and the alleged mishandling of the prosecution of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth. After Albert Reynolds was replaced as Fianna Fáil leader by Bertie Ahern, there was speculation that Labour would rejoin Fianna Fáil in government, but instead it formed a government with two parties which had been in opposition. By-election gains since 1992 meant the three parties had enough TDs between them for an overall majority. It is the only time to date that a new government was formed within the same Dáil term composed of different parties.
There were two Governments of the 32nd Dáil, which was elected at the general election held on 26 February 2016. The 30th Government of Ireland was led by Enda Kenny as Taoiseach and the 31st Government of Ireland was led by Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach. They were minority governments with Fine Gael and Independent TDs at cabinet, reliant on the support of other Independent TDs, and a confidence and supply arrangement with Fianna Fáil. It was the first time Fine Gael had returned to government after a general election, and the succession of Varadkar as Taoiseach in 2017 was the first time a Fine Gael leader had succeeded a party colleague as Taoiseach within a Dáil term.