President of Ireland and legislation

Information

Legislation starts life as a Bill which is passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament).

Every Bill must be signed by the Irish President before it can become law. As soon as the Bill has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, it is presented to the President for signature.

A Bill must be signed on the 5th, 6th or 7th day after it has been presented to the President. However, if the Seanad agrees, the Government may request that the Bill be signed sooner.

When a Bill has been presented to the President, they have the power to refer it to the Supreme Court within 7 days. This power is exercised by the President when there is doubt as to whether the Bill is constitutional. They must first consult with the Council of State but the decision to refer the Bill is the President's alone.

If a Bill is referred to the Supreme Court, it must decide whether or not the Bill conflicts with the Constitution. If the Supreme Court holds that the Bill is unconstitutional, the President cannot sign it.

Once a Bill has been signed, the President must then publish a notice in Iris Oifiguil (the official State gazette) stating that the Bill has become law.

If the Government wishes to change or amend the Constitution, a Bill must be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas to amend the Constitution. The Irish people must then approve the Bill in a constitutional referendum.

Once the Bill has been approved by the people in a referendum, the President must then sign the Bill so that the Constitution can be amended.

The President has 2 additional powers in relation to legislation that have never been exercised.

They may refuse to sign a Bill if a majority of the members of the Seanad and at least one-third of the members of the Dáil petition them not to sign the Bill. The President must consult with the Council of State before deciding within 6 days whether or not to sign the Bill.

The President also has a power in relation to possible Money Bills. The Seanad has less power in relation to Money Bills. If a conflict arises between the Dáil and the Seanad as to whether or not a particular Bill is a Money Bill, the Seanad may ask the President to refer the question to a Committee of Privileges. The President must consult with the Council of State before they decide whether or not to refer it.

View all Irish legislation from 1922 here.

Page edited: 2 June 2016