The Ceann Comhairle (Irish: [ca:n̪ˠ ˈkoːɾʲlʲə] (
|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|
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 that general election, unless they are retiring. 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 do they vote except in the event of a tie. In this event they generally vote 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.
Since the 1937 Constitution, the Ceann Comhairle has been an ex officio member of the Council of State, beginning with Frank Fahy. The earlier presiding officers never served on the Council of State: i.e. those of the Revolutionary Dáil (1919–22: Cathal Brugha, George Noble Plunkett, Eoin MacNeill, and Michael Hayes) and the Free State Dáil (1922–36: Hayes again, before Fahy).
The position of Ceann Comhairle is as old as the Dáil, which was first established as a breakaway revolutionary parliament 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 1922–37 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 following the 11 December 1936 abolition of the office of Governor-General, the Ceann Comhairle was assigned some of the former office's ceremonial functions, including signing bills into law and convening and dissolving the Dáil. These powers were transferred to the new office of President of Ireland when a new Constitution came into force on 29 December 1937.
The new Constitution retained the position of Ceann Comhairle and the practice of automatic re-election. The first Ceann Comhairle since 1919 to resign the office was John O'Donoghue in 2009, after an expenses scandal. As an ordinary TD he was no longer entitled to be returned automatically at the next general election in 2011, in which he lost his seat. One other Ceann Comhairle died in office, Joseph Brennan in 1980.
List of office-holders
|Portrait||Term of office||Party||Constituency||Dáil|
|21 January 1919||22 January 1919||Sinn Féin||Waterford County||1st|
|2.||George Noble Plunkett
|22 January 1919||22 January 1919||Sinn Féin||Roscommon North|
|3.||Seán T. O'Kelly
|22 January 1919||16 August 1921||Sinn Féin||Dublin College Green|
|16 August 1921||9 September 1922||(Pro-Treaty) Sinn Féin||Londonderry
National University of Ireland
|9 September 1922||9 March 1932||Cumann na nGaedheal||National University of Ireland||3rd|
|9 March 1932||13 June 1951||Fianna Fáil||Galway||7th|
|13 June 1951||14 November 1967||Labour Party||Clare||13th|
|14 November 1967||14 March 1973||Fianna Fáil||Donegal South-West|
|14 March 1973||5 July 1977||Labour Party||Tipperary South||20th|
|5 July 1977||13 July 1980||Fianna Fáil||Donegal||21st|
|15 October 1980||30 June 1981||Fianna Fáil||Louth|
|30 June 1981||14 December 1982||Independent||Dublin South-Central||22nd|
|14 December 1982||10 March 1987||Fine Gael||Cavan–Monaghan||24th|
|10 March 1987||26 June 1997||Independent||Tipperary South||25th|
|26 June 1997||6 June 2002||Labour Party||Carlow–Kilkenny||28th|
|6 June 2002||14 June 2007||Fianna Fáil||Cavan–Monaghan||29th|
|14 June 2007||13 October 2009||Fianna Fáil||Kerry South||30th|
|13 October 2009||9 March 2011||Fianna Fáil||Louth|
|9 March 2011||10 March 2016||Fine Gael||Dún Laoghaire||31st|
|19.||Seán Ó Fearghaíl
|10 March 2016||Incumbent||Fianna Fáil||Kildare South||32nd|
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 Pat "the Cope" Gallagher, since 6 July 2016. 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.
|Portrait||Term of office||Party||Constituency||Dáil|
|1.||John J. O'Kelly
|1 April 1919||26 August 1921||Sinn Féin||Louth||1st|
|26 August 1921||28 February 1922||Sinn Féin||Clare||2nd|
|3.||Pádraic Ó Máille
|6 December 1922||23 May 1927||Cumann na nGaedheal||Galway||3rd|
|1 July 1927||25 August 1927||Cumann na nGaedheal||Leitrim–Sligo||5th|
|27 October 1927||8 March 1928||Labour Party||Clare||6th|
|2 May 1928||29 January 1932||Cumann na nGaedheal||Tipperary|
|15 March 1932||27 May 1938||Labour Party||Clare||7th|
|5 July 1938||12 May 1939||Fine Gael||Kerry South||10th|
|31 May 1939||31 May 1943||Fine Gael||Cork West|
|20 October 1943||12 January 1948||Fine Gael||Donegal East||11th|
|25 February 1948||7 May 1951||Labour Party||Clare||13th|
|4 July 1951||14 November 1967||Fianna Fáil||Donegal West
|15 November 1967||5 July 1977||Fine Gael||Limerick West|
|6 July 1977||30 June 1981||Fianna Fáil||Wexford||21st|
|7 July 1981||14 December 1982||Fianna Fáil||Dublin North-West||22nd|
|15 December 1982||10 March 1987||Labour Party||Tipperary North||24th|
|24 March 1987||4 January 1993||Fianna Fáil||Dublin North-West||25th|
|13 February 1993||26 June 1997||Fianna Fáil||Wicklow||27th|
|9 July 1997||6 June 2002||Fianna Fáil||Cavan–Monaghan||28th|
|8 June 2002||14 June 2007||Labour Party||Carlow–Kilkenny||29th|
|26 June 2007||9 March 2011||Labour Party||Wexford||30th|
|31 March 2011||10 March 2016||Fianna Fáil||Galway East||31st|
|20.||Pat "the Cope" Gallagher
|6 July 2016||Incumbent||Fianna Fáil||Donegal||32nd|
- Article 16.6 of the constitution requires that "provision shall be made by law" such that the Ceann Comhairle "be deemed without any actual election to be elected a member of Dáil Éireann". The current law that makes such provision is Section 36 of the Electoral Act 1992.
- MacNeill was returned for seats in both the House of Commons of Northern Ireland and House of Commons of Southern Ireland.
- Hayes was also returned for Dublin South in 1922 but chose to vacate that seat.
- Elected temporarily on 15 October 1980 and permanently the following day.
- "Ceann Comhairle". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
- "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. Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- "Ceann Comhairle – History". Houses of the Oireachtas. Archived from the original on 21 August 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- "Constitution (Amendment No. 2) Act, 1927". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
- Race to be Ceann Comhairle heats up as secret ballot to be used for the first time in election
- George Noble Plunkett briefly chaired the Dáil on 22 January 1919. Seán T. O'Kelly was elected Ceann Comhairle later in the same day.
- "Office of Ceann Comhairle". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 15 October 1980. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
- "Election of Ceann Comhairle". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 16 October 1980. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
- "Role of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle". Houses of the Oireachtas. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- McGee, Harry (1 April 2011). "FF TD selected by Taoiseach to serve as Leas-Cheann Comhairle". The Irish Times.