Who is the Attorney General?
The Attorney General is the adviser to the Government on matters of law and legal opinion and attends Government meetings. They also represent the public in all legal proceedings that involve the enforcement of the law or the protection of public rights.
How is the Attorney General appointed?
Article 30 of the Irish Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) created the office of the Attorney General.
They are appointed by the President on the nomination of the Taoiseach and they leave the office if the Government changes. Usually, the person appointed is a lawyer who is politically associated with the party in power.
Role and duties
The Attorney General’s roles and duties include:
- Advising the Government on any constitutional or legal issues that arise in connection with Government meetings
- Advising whether proposed legislation complies with the provisions of the Irish Constitution, Acts and Treaties of the European Union or other international treaties
- Giving legal advice on matters that are submitted by the Government, departments and offices and drafting necessary accompanying legal documents
- Representing the public in all legal proceedings for the enforcement of law and the assertion or protection of public rights
- Representing the State in legal proceedings
- Directing the coroner to hold an inquest if the circumstances of someone’s death make it advisable
Guidelines for legal proceedings by the State
When the State engages in legal proceedings, a set of 15 guiding principles apply to ensure that the State acts ethically and with integrity. These were created by the Attorney General’s office and are called the State Litigation Principles (pdf).