The Role of the President

The office of President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann) was established by the Constitution in 1937. The President takes precedence over all other persons in the State and exercises powers and functions conferred by the Constitution and by law. The functions include:

  • appointment of the Taoiseach on the nomination of the Dáil;
  • appointment of the other members of the Government on the nomination of the Taoiseach with the previous approval of the Dáil;
  • acceptance of the resignation or termination of the appointment of a member of the Government on the advice of the Taoiseach;
  • summoning or dissolution of the Dáil on the advice of the Taoiseach (but the President may refuse to dissolve the Dáil on the advice of a Taoiseach who has ceased to retain the support of a majority in the Dáil);
  • signature of Bills passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas (but the President may, following consultation with the Council of State, refer a Bill to the Supreme Court for a ruling on its constitutionality. Following a petition by a majority of the Seanad and at least one-third of the Dáil and following consultation with the Council of State, the President may decline to sign a Bill until the will of the people on it has been ascertained by referendum or general election);
  • the exercise of the supreme command of the Defence Forces;
  • exercise of the right of pardon and power to remit punishment imposed by a court of criminal jurisdiction;
  • following consultation with the Council of State, communicating with the Houses of the Oireachtas on a matter of national or public importance or addressing a message to the people.
  • Under the Constitution, the functions of the President, with specified exceptions, are performable only on the advice of the Government.
  • In the performance of the functions of the office, the President is not answerable to either House of the Oireachtas or to any court. The Constitution, however, lays down a procedure under which the President may be impeached for stated misbehaviour.