Private Members' Bills


All proposals for new laws start life as Bills. The bill must be passed by the Dáil and Seanad(the two Houses of the Oireachtas – the Irish parliament) before the President can sign the bill into law.

When it is signed by the President, the Bill becomes an Act and is added to the Statute Book.

Bills are either commenced by a Minister of State (Government Bills) or by a TD or Senator who is not part of the Government (Private Member’s Bills).

What is a Private Member’s Bill?

A Private Member's Bill is a Bill that is initiated by any member of either of the houses of the Oireachtas (the Dáil or Seanad), regardless of their political affiliation.

A 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 Bills, the Private Member's Bill must be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. In practice, the Government often opposes Private Members' Bills so it is rare that a Private Members' Bill will become legislation. This is because the Government controls the majority in the Dáil and Seanad and can vote against the Bill after it is initiated.

Sometimes, Private Members' Bills are initiated by members of the Oireachtas 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: 23 February 2022