Ceann Comhairle

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Ceann Comhairle of
Dáil Éireann
Oireachtas logo.svg
Seán Barrett

since 9 March 2011
Appointer Elected by the members of Dáil Éireann at start of a new term after a general election.
Term length No term limits are imposed on the office.
Inaugural holder Cathal Brugha
Formation 21 January 1919
Website Official website
Coat of arms of Ireland
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Republic of Ireland

The Ceann Comhairle (Irish pronunciation: [caːn̪ˠ ˈkoːɾʲlʲə], "head of the council") is the chairperson[1] (or speaker)[1] 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 Ceann Comhairle of the 31st Dáil is Seán Barrett, TD.


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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[3]


The position of Ceann Comhairle is as old as the Dáil, which was first established in 1919.[4] 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[edit]

Ceann Comhairle[edit]

No. Name Term of office Party
1. Cathal Brugha 21 January 1919 22 January 1919 Sinn Féin
2. Count Plunkett[5] 22 January 1919 22 January 1919 Sinn Féin
3. Seán T. O'Kelly 22 January 1919 16 August 1921 Sinn Féin
4. Eoin MacNeill 16 August 1921 9 September 1922 (Pro-Treaty) Sinn Féin
5. Michael Hayes 9 September 1922 9 March 1932 Cumann na nGaedheal
6. Frank Fahy 9 March 1932 13 June 1951 Fianna Fáil
7. Patrick Hogan 13 June 1951 14 November 1967 Labour Party
8. Cormac Breslin 14 November 1967 14 March 1973 Fianna Fáil
9. Seán Treacy (1st time) 14 March 1973 5 July 1977 Labour Party
10. Joseph Brennan 5 July 1977 13 July 1980 Fianna Fáil
11. Pádraig Faulkner 15 October 1980 30 June 1981 Fianna Fáil
12. John O'Connell 30 June 1981 14 December 1982 Independent
13. Tom Fitzpatrick 14 December 1982 10 March 1987 Fine Gael
Seán Treacy (2nd time) 10 March 1987 26 June 1997 Independent
14. Séamus Pattison 26 June 1997 6 June 2002 Labour Party
15. Rory O'Hanlon 6 June 2002 14 June 2007 Fianna Fáil
16. John O'Donoghue 14 June 2007 13 October 2009 Fianna Fáil
17. Séamus Kirk 13 October 2009 9 March 2011 Fianna Fáil
18. Seán Barrett 9 March 2011 Incumbent Fine Gael

Leas-Cheann Comhairle[edit]

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle holds office as the Deputy Chairman of Dáil Éireann under Article 15.9.1 of the Constitution. In the absence of the Ceann Comhairle, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle deputises and performs the duties and exercises the authority of the Ceann Comhairle in Dáil proceedings.[6] The current Leas-Cheann Comhairle is Fianna Fáil TD, Michael Kitt. By tradition, the position is reserved for the Opposition, but the appointment is made by the Taoiseach of the day.[7] The role carries the same pay and the same status as that of a Minister of State.

No. Name Term of office Party
1. John J. O'Kelly 1 April 1919 26 August 1921 Sinn Féin
2. Brian O'Higgins 26 August 1921 28 February 1922 Sinn Féin
3. Pádraic Ó Máille 6 December 1922 23 May 1927 Cumann na nGaedheal
4. James Dolan 1 July 1927 25 August 1927 Cumann na nGaedheal
5. Patrick Hogan (1st time) 27 October 1927 8 March 1928 Labour Party
6. Daniel Morrissey 2 May 1928 29 January 1932 Cumann na nGaedheal
Patrick Hogan (2nd time) 15 March 1932 27 May 1938 Labour Party
7. Fionán Lynch 5 July 1938 12 May 1939 Fine Gael
8. Eamonn O'Neill 31 May 1939 31 May 1943 Fine Gael
9. Daniel McMenamin 20 October 1943 12 January 1948 Fine Gael
Patrick Hogan (3rd time) 25 February 1948 7 May 1951 Labour Party
10. Cormac Breslin 4 July 1951 14 November 1967 Fianna Fáil
11. Denis Jones 15 November 1967 5 July 1977 Fine Gael
12. Seán Browne 6 July 1977 30 June 1981 Fianna Fáil
13. Jim Tunney (1st time) 7 July 1981 14 December 1982 Fianna Fáil
14. John Ryan 15 December 1982 10 March 1987 Labour Party
Jim Tunney (2nd time) 24 March 1987 4 January 1993 Fianna Fáil
15. Joe Jacob 13 February 1993 26 June 1997 Fianna Fáil
16. Rory O'Hanlon 9 July 1997 6 June 2002 Fianna Fáil
17. Séamus Pattison 8 June 2002 14 June 2007 Labour Party
18. Brendan Howlin 26 June 2007 9 March 2011 Labour Party
19. Michael Kitt 31 March 2011 Incumbent Fianna Fáil

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Role of the Ceann Comhairle". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 12 June 2008. 
  2. ^ a b 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 [1].
  3. ^ The bell is a half-sized 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.
  4. ^ "Ceann Comhairle – History". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  5. ^ Count Plunkett briefly chaired the Dáil on 22 January 1919. Seán T. O'Kelly was elected Ceann Comhairle later in the same day.
  6. ^ "Role of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  7. ^ McGee, Harry (1 April 2011). "FF TD selected by Taoiseach to serve as Leas-Cheann Comhairle". The Irish Times. 

External links[edit]