Functions of the Seanad
The main function of Seanad Éireann is in relation to legislation. A Bill may start life in either the Dáil or the Seanad. In practice, the vast majority of Bills originate from the Government and are passed by the Dáil first. They are then sent to the Seanad for debate and consideration. Within 90 days, the Seanad may propose amendments, reject or pass a Bill. The Dáil has the power to over-ride the Seanad's rejection of a Bill.
The Seanad's powers in relation to Bills for Government spending (Money Bills) are very restricted. These Bills cannot start life in the Seanad, they must come from the Dáil. The Seanad has only 21 days to consider a Money Bill and cannot make amendments to it.
The Seanad has other functions, which it shares with the Dáil, such as the removal from office of the President or a judge of the Supreme Court, declaring a state of emergency and annulling statutory instruments.
In recent years, parliamentary committees have become an important part of the work of the Seanad. Joint Committees involve both Seanad and Dáil members sitting and voting together on particular issues.
Seanad Éireann normally meets on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Senators are also involved in drafting amendments to Bills and examining proposals for new legislation. They contribute to debates on Bills and other important matters. They vote on issues in the House.
Senators are not officially separated into political parties. However, they usually divide into groups supporting and opposing Government business when voting on issues.
Senators have certain privileges as members of the Oireachtas. They may be disciplined by the House for breach of procedure or abuse of privilege.