The functions and powers of the President, D�il and Seanad derive from the
Constitution of Ireland and law. Under the Constitution, the President of
Ireland (Uachtar�n na h�ireann) is elected by the direct vote of the people.
Every citizen of thirty-five years of age or over is eligible for the office.
Every citizen who has a right to vote at an election for members of D�il
�ireann has the right to vote at an election for President. The President's
term of office is seven years. A President can be re-elected once only.
Presidents elected since the creation of the office in 1937 have been Dr.
Douglas Hyde (1938-1945), Se�n T. � Ceallaigh (1945-1959), �amon de Valera
(1959-1973), Erskine Childers (1973-1974), Cearbhall � D�laigh (1974-1976), Dr.
Patrick Hillery (1976-1990), Mary Robinson (1990-1997). President Mary McAleese
was inaugurated on 11 November, 1997 for a seven year term of office.
The President is Head of State only and does not have executive functions. The
Constitution, however, envisages the President as more than a ceremonial Head
of State. It gives the President certain powers that make the President in
effect the guardian of the Constitution. The President normally acts on the
advice and authority of the Government.
On the nomination of D�il �ireann the
resident appoints the Taoiseach (Prime Minister). On the advice of the
Taoiseach and with the prior approval of D�il �ireann the President appoints
members of the Government. On the advice of the Taoiseach, the President
accepts the resignation or terminates the appointment of a member of the
Government. D�il �ireann is summoned and dissolved by the President on the
advice of the Taoiseach. Before a Bill may become law, it must have the
The President has certain discretionary powers. First, the President may,
after consultation with the Council of State, an advisory body to the
President, refer any Bill to the Supreme Court for a decision as to whether it
contains anything repugnant to the Constitution. Secondly, if a majority of the
Seanad and not less than one-third of the D�il petition the President to
decline to sign a Bill on the grounds that it contains a proposal of such
national importance that the will of the people thereon ought to be
ascertained, the President may accede to the request after consultation with
the Council of State. In these circumstances the President may sign the Bill
only when the proposal has been approved by the people in a referendum or by a
new D�il after a dissolution and a General Election. The President has one
power which may be exercised at his or her absolute discretion. This allows the
President to refuse to dissolve the D�il on the advice of a Taoiseach who has
ceased to retain the support of a majority in the D�il. The supreme command of
the defence forces is vested in the President.
There is no Vice-President of Ireland. If the President dies in office, or is
incapacitated, or is abroad, or is removed from office or fails to carry out
functions enjoined on the office by the Constitution, the Constitution provides
for a Commission to act in his or her place. The Commission would consist of
the Chief Justice, the Chairman of D�il �ireann, and the Chairman of Seanad