Private Members' Bills

Information

All proposals for new laws (in other words, Acts of the Oireachtas) start life as Bills. Proposals for laws that apply to the general public are called Public Bills which include Government Bills and Private Members’ Bills. Proposals for laws that are promoted by corporate entities or individuals for their own purposes are called Private Bills. In general, Private Bills are very rare.

A Private Member's Bill is a Public Bill that can be initiated by any member of either of the houses of the Oireachtas (that is, the Dáil or Seanad), regardless of their political affiliation. The Private Member's Bill cannot be started by any member of the Government, Minister of State, the Attorney General or leader of the House in the Seanad.

Like Government legislation the Private Member's Bill must be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. In practice, the Government opposes Private Members' Bills so it is very rare that a Bill will survive to become legislation.

Sometimes, Private Members' Bills are initiated by members of the Oireachtas simply to draw attention to an issue or to focus public debate on a gap in the law.

Read more about Bills and how legislation is initiated and debated.

Page edited: 2 June 2015