|Taoiseach of Ireland
|Residence||Steward's Lodge, Farmleigh|
|Appointer||President of Ireland|
|Term length||5 years maximum per term, but can hold an unlimited amount of terms while holding the majority support of Dáil Éireann.|
|Inaugural holder||Éamon de Valera[nb 1]|
|Formation||29 December 1937[nb 1]|
|This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the Republic of Ireland
The Taoiseach (//; Irish: [ˈt̪ˠiːʃəx] ( listen))[nb 2] is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (parliament), and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.[nb 3] The current Taoiseach is Enda Kenny, TD, who was appointed on 9 March 2011.
Under the Constitution of Ireland, the Taoiseach must be appointed from among the members of Dáil Éireann. He is nominated by a simple majority of the chamber's members, and formally appointed to office by the President. Since the President is required to appoint whomever the Dáil nominates without the right to decline appointment, it is often said that the Taoiseach is "elected" by the Dáil.
In the event that the Taoiseach loses the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann, he is not automatically removed from office but, rather, is compelled to either resign or persuade the President to dissolve the Dáil. The President may refuse to grant a dissolution and, in effect, force the Taoiseach to resign, but, to date, no president has exercised this prerogative (though the option arose in 1944 and 1994 and twice in 1982). The Taoiseach may lose the support of Dáil Éireann by the passage of a vote of no confidence, the failure of a vote of confidence or, alternatively, the Dáil may refuse supply. In the event of the Taoiseach's resignation, he continues to exercise the duties and functions of his office until the appointment of a successor.
The Taoiseach nominates the remaining members of the Government, who are then, with the consent of the Dáil, appointed by the President. The Taoiseach also has authority to advise the President to dismiss cabinet ministers from office, advice the President is required to follow by convention. He or she is further responsible for appointing eleven members of the Seanad.
The Department of the Taoiseach is the government department which supports and advises the Taoiseach in carrying out his various duties.
The Taoiseach's annual salary is €200,000 since March 2011. It was cut from €214,187 to €200,000 when Kenny took office.
A proposed increase of €38,000 in 2007 was deferred when Brian Cowen became Taoiseach and in October 2008, the government announced a 10% salary cut for all ministers, including the Taoiseach. However this was a voluntary cut and the salaries remained nominally the same with ministers and Taoiseach essentially refusing 10% of their salary. This courted controversy in December 2009 when a salary cut of 20% was based on the higher figure before the refused amount was deducted. The Taoiseach is also allowed an additional €118,981 in annual expenses.
For the first 70 years of the office's existence, there was no official residence of the Taoiseach. However, in 2008 it was reported that the former Steward's Lodge at Farmleigh adjoining the Phoenix Park would become the official residence of the Taoiseach. The house, which forms part of the Farmleigh estate acquired by the State in 1999 for €29.2m, was renovated at a cost of nearly €600,000 in 2005 by the Office of Public Works. Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern did not use it as a residence, however his successor Brian Cowen used it "from time to time".
Origins and etymology 
The words Taoiseach and Tánaiste (the title of the deputy prime minister) are both from the Irish language and of ancient origin. Though the Taoiseach is described in the Constitution of Ireland as "the head of the Government or Prime Minister",[nb 3] its literal translation is chieftain or leader. Tánaiste in turn refers to the system of tanistry, the Gaelic system of succession whereby a leader would appoint an heir apparent while still living.
In Scottish Gaelic, tòiseach translates as clan chief and both words originally had similar meaning in the Gaelic languages of Scotland and Ireland. The related Welsh language word tywysog (current meaning: prince) has a similar origin and meaning. Both derive ultimately from the proto-Celtic *towissākos "chieftain, leader".
Modern office 
The modern position of Taoiseach was established by the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, to replace the position of President of the Executive Council of the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. The positions of Taoiseach and President of the Executive Council differed in certain fundamental respects. Under the Constitution of the Irish Free State, the latter was vested with considerably less power and was largely just the cabinet's presiding officer. For example, the President of the Executive Council could not dismiss a fellow minister. The Free State's cabinet, the Executive Council, had to be disbanded and reformed entirely in order to remove one of its number. The President of the Executive Council could also not personally seek a dissolution of Dáil Éireann from the head of state, that power belonging collectively to the Executive Council. In contrast, the Taoiseach created in 1937 possesses a much more powerful role. He can both instruct the President to dismiss ministers, and request a parliamentary dissolution on his own initiative. His role is greatly enhanced because under the Constitution, he is both de jure and de facto chief executive, since the Constitution explicitly vests executive power in the Government. In most other parliamentary democracies, the head of state is at least the nominal chief executive.
Historically, where there have been multi-party or coalition governments, the Taoiseach has come from the leader of the largest party in the coalition. One exception to this was John A. Costello, who was not leader of his party, but an agreed choice to head the government, because the other parties refused to accept then Fine Gael leader Richard Mulcahy as Taoiseach.
List of office holders 
Before the enactment of the 1937 Constitution, the head of government was referred to as the President of the Executive Council. This office was first held by W. T. Cosgrave of Cumann na nGaedheal from 1922–32, and then by Éamon de Valera from 1932–37. By convention, Taoisigh are numbered to include Cosgrave, for example Enda Kenny is considered the 13th Taoiseach, not the 12th.
Living former officeholders 
There are five living former taoisigh:
|Taoiseach||Term of office||Date of birth|
|Liam Cosgrave||1973–1977||13 April 1920|
|Albert Reynolds||1992–1994||3 November 1932|
|John Bruton||1994–1997||18 May 1947|
|Bertie Ahern||1997–2008||12 September 1951|
|Brian Cowen||2008–2011||10 January 1960|
The most recent death of a former taoiseach was that of Garret FitzGerald (1981–1982; 1982–1987) on 19 May 2011, aged 85.
See also 
- Before the enactment of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, the head of government was referred to as the President of the Executive Council. This office was first held by W. T. Cosgrave from 1922–32, and then by Éamon de Valera from 1932–37.
- In English, the singular form "An Taoiseach" ([ən̪ ˈt̪ˠiːʃəx]) (using the Irish language definite article an /ən/ instead of English the) may also be used instead of The Taoiseach.
- Article 13.1.1° and Article 28.5.1° of the Constitution of Ireland. The latter provision reads: "The head of the Government, or Prime Minister, shall be called, and is in this Constitution referred to as, the Taoiseach." 
- The last office held, excluding the office of Teachta Dála.
- "Cabinet decides to cut pay for Ministers". RTÉ News. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
- John Thomas Koch (2006), Celtic Culture: a Historical Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, p. 1062, ISBN 1851094407, "An early word meaning 'leader' appears on a 5th- or 6th-century inscribed stone as both ogam Irish and British genitive TOVISACI: tywysog now means 'prince' in Welsh, the regular descriptive title used for Prince Charles, for example; while in Ireland, the corresponding Taoiseach is now the correct title, in both Irish and English, for the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic (Éire)."
- One example of the Dáil refusing supply occurred in January 1982 when the then Fine Gael – Labour Party coalition government of Garret FitzGerald lost a vote on the budget. 
- "Taoiseach to receive €38k pay rise". RTÉ News. 25 October 2007.
- "Sharp exchanges in Dáil over Budget". RTÉ News. 15 October 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
- "Opposition says Lenihan's salary cuts do not add up". Irish Independent. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
- "Opulent Phoenix Park lodge is set to become 'Fortress Cowen'". Irish Independent. 18 May 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2008.
- "Cowen questioned on use of Farmleigh". The Irish Times. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
- "Youth Zone – Frequently Asked Questions". Department of the Taoiseach. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
- Among the most famous ministerial dismissals have been those of Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney during the Arms Crisis in 1970, Brian Lenihan in 1990 and Albert Reynolds, Pádraig Flynn and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn in 1991.
- "Coughlan new Tánaiste in Cowen Cabinet". The Irish Times. 17 May 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
- "Taoiseach reveals new front bench". RTÉ News. 7 May 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
- "Cowen confirmed as Taoiseach". BreakingNews.ie. 7 May 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
- "Former Taoisigh". Department of the Taoiseach. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
Further reading 
The book Chairman or Chief: The Role of the Taoiseach in Irish Government (1971) by Brian Farrell provides a good overview of the conflicting roles for the Taoiseach. Though long out of print, it may still be available in libraries or from AbeBooks. Biographies are also available of de Valera, Lemass, Lynch, Cosgrave, FitzGerald, Haughey, Reynolds and Ahern. FitzGerald wrote an autobiography, while an authorised biography was produced of de Valera.
- Some biographies of former Taoisigh and Presidents of the Executive Council
- Tim Pat Coogan, Éamon de Valera
- John Horgan, Seán Lemass
- Brian Farrell, Seán Lemass
- T. P. O'Mahony, Jack Lynch: A Biography
- T. Ryle Dwyer, Nice Fellow: A Biography of Jack Lynch
- Stephen Collins, The Cosgrave legacy
- Garret FitzGerald, All in a Life
- Garret FitzGerald, "Just Garret: Tales from the Political Frontline"
- Raymond Smith, Garret: The Enigma
- T. Ryle Dwyer, Short Fellow: A Biography of Charles Haughey
- Martin Mansergh, Spirit of the Nation: The Collected Speeches of Haughey
- Joe Joyce & Peter Murtagh The Boss: Charles Haughey in Government
- Tim Ryan, Albert Reynolds: The Longford Leader
- Albert Reynolds, My Autobiography
- Bertie Ahern, My Autobiography
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