Composition of the Government

Information

Article 28 of Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Irish Constitution) sets out the composition of Government. The Constitution states that the Government must not be smaller than 7 members or larger than 15 members.

The Taoiseach is the head of the Irish Government. He or she is nominated by the Dáil (one of the houses of Parliament) and formally appointed by the Irish President. Normally, each of the political parties or a coalition of parties will have its own nominee for Taoiseach. The nominee who has the support of the majority of the members of the Dáil will become Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach then nominates the other members of the Government and gives each of them a Department of State. They are approved by the Dáil and appointed by the President. You can view this list of current Irish Government Ministers.

If the Government is made up of 2 or more political parties, it is called a coalition government. The 2 parties will share the positions in the Government - usually the position of Tánaiste is given to the leader of the smaller party in coalition.

The members of the Government must be members of either Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann. There cannot be more than 2 members of Seanad Éireann appointed to the Government. The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Finance must be members of Dáil Éireann.

The Taoiseach may also appoint Ministers of State who are also known as Junior Ministers. They are not actually members of the Cabinet but they help Government ministers in their parliamentary and departmental work.

The Taoiseach will also appoint an Attorney General to advise the Government on legal issues. The Attorney General is not a member of the Government but he/she traditionally attends at Cabinet meetings.

Page edited: 22 April 2015