Ceann Comhairle

Ceann Comhairle

The Ceann Comhairle (IPA2|/kʲaːn̪ˠ ˈkoːrʎə/, Irish for "head of the council") [The plural form is "Cinn Comhairlí".] is the speaker [cite web
title = Role of the Ceann Comhairle
work = An Ceann Comhairle
url = http://ceanncomhairle.oireachtas.ie/role.asp
accessdate = 2008-05-12
] or chairperson of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (parliament) of Ireland. The person who holds the position is elected by members of the Dáil from among their number in the first session after each general election. The current Ceann Comhairle is John O'Donoghue, TD. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle ("Deputy Speaker") is Brendan Howlin, TD.


The Ceann Comhairle is expected to observe strict impartiality. Despite this, a government usually tries to select one of its own for the position, if its numbers allow. In order to protect the neutrality of the chair, the Constitution of Ireland provides that an incumbent Ceann Comhairle does not seek re-election as a Teachta Dála (member of the Dáil) but rather is deemed automatically to have been re-elected by their constituency at a general election, unless they are retiring. [Article 16.6 of the constitution requires that "provision shall be made by law" such that the Ceann Comhairle "be deemed without any actual election to be elected a member of Dáil Éireann". The current law making such provision is the Electoral Act, 1992 [http://acts.oireachtas.ie/zza23y1992.1.html] .] As a consequence, the constituency that an incumbent Ceann Comhairle theoretically represents returns one less TD in a general election than its usual entitlement. The Ceann Comhairle does not vote except in the event of a tie. In this event they generally vote in accordance with the parliamentary conventions relating to the Speaker of the British House of Commons. The Ceann Comhairle is the sole judge of order in the house and has a number of special functions. Specifically, the Ceann Comhairle

*Calls on members to speak. All speeches must be addressed to the Ceann Comhairle.
*Puts such questions to the house and supervises and declares the results of divisions.
*Has authority to suppress disorder. To ensure obedience to his rulings the Ceann Comhairle may order members to withdraw from the Dáil or suspend an individual from the House for a period. In the case of great disorder the Ceann Comhairle can suspend or adjourn the house.
*Rings a bell [The bell is a half size reproduction of the ancient bell of Lough Lene Castle, presented to Dáil Éireann in 1931 by the widow of a former member of the House, Bryan Cooper. The original bell was found at Castle Island, Lough Lene, Castlepollard, County Westmeath in 1881 and is now in the National Museum.] when deputies are out of order.


The position of Ceann Comhairle is as old as the Dáil, which was first established as an extra-legal parliament in 1919. The first Ceann Comhairle was Cathal Brugha, who served for only one day, presiding over the house's symbolic first meeting, before leaving the post to become Príomh Aire (prime minister). The office was continued under the 1922–1937 Irish Free State, the constitution of which referred to the office-holder as the "Chairman of Dáil Éireann". The practice of automatically re-electing the Ceann Comhairle in a general election was introduced by a constitutional amendment in 1927. For a brief period from 1936 to 1937, following the abolition of the office of Governor-General, certain of the Governor-General's functions were transferred to the Ceann Comhairle, who was assigned the role of signing bills into law and convening and dissolving the Dáil. The position of Ceann Comhairle was retained when the Constitution of Ireland was adopted in 1937, as was the practice of automatic re-election.

List of office-holders


ee also

*Politics of the Republic of Ireland
*History of the Republic of Ireland
*Dáil Éireann (Irish Republic)
*Dáil Éireann (Irish Free State)
*Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly (known as Ceann Comhairle in the Irish language)

External links

* [http://ceanncomhairle.oireachtas.ie/ Official website]
* [http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents/tour/kildare06.asp Lough Lene Bell, maquette photo]
* [http://www.askaboutireland.ie/show_narrative_page.do?page_id=3914 Bell of Lough Lene, Westmeath]

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