Ceann Comhairle - Overview

Overview

The Ceann Comhairle is expected to observe strict impartiality. Despite this, a government usually tries to select a member of its own political party for the position, if it has enough deputies to allow that choice. 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 (Deputy to the Dáil) but rather is deemed automatically to have been re-elected by their constituency at a general election, unless they are retiring. As a consequence, the constituency that an incumbent Ceann Comhairle represents elects one fewer TD in a general election than its usual entitlement, but still has the same number of TDs.

The Ceann Comhairle does not take part in debates nor vote except in the event of a tie. In this event he generally votes in accordance with the parliamentary conventions relating to the Speaker of the British House of Commons, which tend to amount to voting against motions. The Ceann Comhairle formally opens each day's sitting by reading the official prayer. 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 when deputies are out of order.

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