Leader of the Seanad

The Leader of the Seanad (referred to within the Seanad as Leader of the House Irish: Treoraí an Tí) is a member of Seanad Éireann appointed by the Taoiseach to direct government business.[1][2] Since June 2016, the incumbent is Jerry Buttimer of Fine Gael.

Leader of the Seanad
Jerry Buttimer

since 8 June 2016


The Leader plays a similar role in the Seanad's procedure to that played by the Taoiseach in Dáil Éireann:[3]

  • moving the day's order of business
  • may present a government bill without prior notice
  • ex-officio member of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges
  • may move a vote of sympathy


In the old Seanad of the Irish Free State, there was no separate position of Leader.[1] The order of business was controlled by the Cathaoirleach (chair).[1] This was a symptom of the Seanad's independence from the Executive Council (government), which annoyed Éamon de Valera as President of the Executive Council.[1] De Valera's Fianna Fáil government secured the abolition of the Seanad in 1936.[1]

De Valera's 1937 Constitution created a new Seanad with less independence from the Dáil. The standing orders of the new Seanad provided for the role of Leader to control the flow of business from the government.[3][1] A 2004 Seanad report into reforming its own functions recommended that the Leader be allowed to attend cabinet meetings, with a rank of minister or minister of state.[1][4] Maurice Manning noted in 2010 that recent Leaders had more influence with the government, leading to increased input by the Seanad into legislation.[1]


Name Term of office Party Governments Notes
William Quirke[5] 1938 1948 Fianna Fáil 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Michael Hayes[5] 1948 1951 Fine Gael 5th
William Quirke[5] 1951 1954 Fianna Fáil 6th
Michael Hayes[5] 1954 1957 Fine Gael 7th
Thomas Mullins 1957 1973 Fianna Fáil 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th
Michael J. O'Higgins 1 June 1973 27 October 1977 Fine Gael 14th
Eoin Ryan Snr 27 October 1977 8 October 1981 Fianna Fáil 15th, 16th
Gemma Hussey 8 October 1981 February 1982 Fine Gael 17th Vacated Leadership and Seanad seat upon election to Dáil.
Eoin Ryan Snr 26 March 1982 21 December 1982 Fianna Fáil 18th
James Dooge 21 December 1982 3 April 1987 Fine Gael 19th
Mick Lanigan 3 April 1987 16 May 1990 Fianna Fáil 20th, 21st Resigned as Leader after Fianna Fáil lost a series of votes while all its senators were absent.
Seán Fallon 16 May 1990 23 January 1992 Fianna Fáil 21st Vacated Leadership upon being elected Cathaoirleach to replace Seán Doherty
G. V. Wright 23 January 1992 20 December 1994 Fianna Fáil 21st, 22nd, 23rd The 21st government ended when Charles Haughey resigned as Taoiseach, seven days after Doherty's resignation as Cathaoirleach over the same controversy.
Maurice Manning 20 December 1994 17 September 1997 Fine Gael 24th
Donie Cassidy 17 September 1997 May 2002 Fianna Fáil 25th Vacated Leadership and Seanad seat upon election to Dáil.
Mary O'Rourke 26 June 2002 May 2007 Fianna Fáil 26th Vacated Leadership and Seanad seat upon election to Dáil.
Donie Cassidy 3 July 2007 25 May 2011 Fianna Fáil 27th, 28th
Maurice Cummins 25 May 2011 8 June 2016 Fine Gael 29th
Jerry Buttimer 8 June 2016 Incumbent Fine Gael 30th, 31st


  1. Manning, Maurice (2010). "The Senate" (PDF). In MacCarthaigh, Muiris; Manning, Maurice (eds.). The Houses of the Oireachtas: Parliament in Ireland. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration. pp. 153–168. ISBN 978-1-904541-93-6. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  2. "Seanad Éireann". How Parliament works. Oireachtas. 10 April 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  3. Seanad Éireann (20 June 2017). "Standing Orders relative to Public Business" (PDF). pp. 91–92. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  4. Committee on Procedure and Privileges, Sub-Committee on Seanad Reform (19 April 2004). "Report on Seanad Reform" (PDF). Seanad Éireann. p. 62. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 May 2004.
  5. "Death of Senator". Seanad Éireann (in Irish). Oireachtas. 9 March 1955. Retrieved 11 October 2018. When the Seanad was reconstituted in 1938, he was elected a member on the Agricultural Panel and served either as Leader of the House or as Leader of the Opposition until his death. [...] For the greater part of that period, he was Leader of the House and I was Leader of the Opposition. We changed places twice

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