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The Taoiseach is the
prime minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
and
head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presi ...
of
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
. The office is appointed by the
president of Ireland The president of Ireland ( ga, Uachtarán na hÉireann) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public ...
upon the nomination of
Dáil Éireann Dáil Éireann ( , ; ) is the , and principal chamber, of the (Irish legislature), which also includes the and (the ).Article 15.1.2º of the reads: "The Oireachtas shall consist of the President and two Houses, viz.: a House of Represent ...
(the
lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community in Apache County *Chambers, Nebraska *Chambers, We ...
of the
Oireachtas The Oireachtas ( , ), sometimes referred to as Oireachtas Éireann, is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country ...
, Ireland's national legislature) and must retain the support of a majority in the Dáil to remain in office. The
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
word ''
taoiseach The Taoiseach is the prime minister and head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous reg ...
'' means "chief" or "leader", and was adopted in the 1937
Constitution of Ireland The Constitution of Ireland ( ga, Bunreacht na hÉireann, ) is the constitution, fundamental law of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. It asserts the national sovereignty of the Irish people. The constitution is broadly within the tradition of liberal ...
as the title of the "head of the Government or Prime Minister". It is the official title of the head of government in both English and Irish, and is not used for the prime ministers of other countries, who are instead referred to in Irish by the generic term ''príomh-aire''. The longer Irish form, ''an Taoiseach'', is sometimes used in English instead of "the Taoiseach". The current Taoiseach is
Micheál Martin Micheál Martin (; born 1 August 1960) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who has served as Taoiseach since June 2020 and as Leader of Fianna Fáil since January 2011. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South-Central (Dáil constituency ...

Micheál Martin
TD, leader of
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conserva ...
, who took office on 27 June 2020 following a coalition agreement between Fianna Fáil,
Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
, and the
Green Party A Green party is a formally organized political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. It is common for the members of a political party to have similar ideas about poli ...
.


Overview

Under the
Constitution of Ireland The Constitution of Ireland ( ga, Bunreacht na hÉireann, ) is the constitution, fundamental law of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. It asserts the national sovereignty of the Irish people. The constitution is broadly within the tradition of liberal ...
, the Taoiseach is nominated by a simple majority of the voting members of Dáil Éireann. They are then formally appointed to office by the President, who is required to appoint whomever the Dáil designates, without the option of declining to make the appointment. For this reason, the Taoiseach may, informally, be said to have been "elected" by Dáil Éireann. If the Taoiseach loses the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann, they are not automatically removed from office. Instead, they are compelled either to resign or to persuade the President to dissolve the Dáil. If the President refuses to grant a dissolution, this effectively forces the Taoiseach to resign. To date, no president has exercised this prerogative, although 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 A motion of no confidence, vote of no confidence, or no confidence motion, sometimes in the reverse as a motion of confidence or vote of confidence, is a statement or vote about whether a person in a position of responsibility (government, manager ...
, or implicitly, through the failure of a vote of confidence. Alternatively, the Dáil may refuse supply. In the event of the Taoiseach's resignation, they continue to exercise the duties and functions of office until the appointment of a successor. The Taoiseach nominates the remaining members of the
Government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...
, who are then, with the consent of the Dáil, appointed by the President. The Taoiseach is authorised to advise the President to dismiss cabinet ministers from office; by convention the President follows this advice. The Taoiseach is further responsible for appointing eleven members of the
Seanad
Seanad
. The
Department of the Taoiseach The Department of the Taoiseach ( ga, Roinn an Taoisigh) is the government department of the Taoiseach The Taoiseach is the prime minister and head of government of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. The office is appointed by the president of Irel ...
is the government department which supports and advises the Taoiseach in carrying out their various duties. The Taoiseach is assisted by one or more Ministers of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, one of whom is the Government
Chief Whip The Chief Whip is a political leader whose task is to ensure the Whip (politics), whipping system that tries to ensure that members of the Political party, party attend and vote as the party leadership desires. United Kingdom In Politics of ...
.


Salary

Since 2013, the Taoiseach's annual salary is €185,350. It was cut from €214,187 to €200,000 when
Enda Kenny Enda Kenny ( born 24 April 1951) is an Irish former Fine Gael politician who served as Taoiseach from 2011 to 2017, Leader of Fine Gael from 2002 to 2017, Minister for Defence (Ireland), Minister for Defence from May 2014 to July 2014 and 2016 t ...

Enda Kenny
took office, before being cut further to €185,350 under the Haddington Road Agreement in 2013. A proposed increase of €38,000 in 2007 was deferred when
Brian Cowen Brian Bernard Cowen (born 10 January 1960) is an Irish former politician who served as Taoiseach and Leader of Fianna Fáil from 2008 to 2011. Cowen was elected to Dáil Éireann in 1984, for the constituency of Laois–Offaly (Dáil constituenc ...

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 both ministers and Taoiseach essentially refusing 10% of their salary. This caused 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.


Residence

There is no official residence of the Taoiseach. In 2008 it was reported speculatively that the former
Steward's Lodge The Steward's Lodge is a house which was originally part of the Farmleigh estate, alongside the Phoenix Park in Dublin Dublin (, ; ) is the capital and largest city of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. Situated on a bay on the east coast, at t ...
at
Farmleigh Farmleigh is the official Irish state guest house A state guest house is a building owned by the government of a country which is used as an official residence for visiting foreign dignitaries, especially during state visits or for other importan ...
adjoining the
Phoenix Park The Phoenix Park ( ga, Páirc an Fhionnuisce) is a large urban park in Dublin, Ireland, lying 2–4 km west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 11 km perimeter wall encloses of recreational space. It includes large are ...

Phoenix Park
would become the official residence of the Taoiseach; however no official statements were made nor any action taken. 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 The Office of Public Works (OPW) ( ga, Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblí) (legally the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, though the full title is rarely used) is an Irish Government agency whose primary function is to support the implementation ...
. Former Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern Bartholomew Patrick "Bertie" Ahern (born 12 September 1951) is an Irish former Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna ...

Bertie Ahern
did not use it as a residence, but his successor Brian Cowen used it occasionally.


Salute

"" ("More of
Cloyne Cloyne () is a small town to the southeast of Midleton in eastern County Cork. It is also a see city of the Anglican (Church of Ireland) Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, while also giving its name to a Roman Catholic Roman Catholic Diocese of ...
") is a traditional air collected by
Patrick Weston Joyce Patrick Weston Joyce, commonly known as P. W. Joyce (1827 – 7 January 1914) was an Irish historian, writer and music collector, known particularly for his research in Irish etymology and local place names of Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éir ...
in 1873. "Amhrán Dóchais" ("Song of Hope") is a poem written by
Osborn Bergin Osborn Joseph Bergin (26 November 1873 – 6 October 1950) was a scholar of the Irish language Irish (also called in An Caighdeán Oifigiúil, Standard Irish) is a Goidelic languages, Goidelic language of the Insular Celtic branch of the Celt ...
in 1913. John A. Costello chose the air as his musical salute. The salute is played by army bands on the arrival of the Taoiseach at state ceremonies. Though the salute is often called "",
Brian Ó Cuív Brian Ó Cuív (1916 – 14 November 1999) was a Celtic scholar who specialised in Irish history and philology Philology is the study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken ...
argued "" is the correct title.


History


Origins and etymology

The words and (deputy prime minister) are both from the
Irish language Irish ( in Standard Irish Standard may refer to: Symbols * Colours, standards and guidons, kinds of military signs * Heraldic flag, Standard (emblem), a type of a large symbol or emblem used for identification Norms, conventions or requ ...
and of ancient origin. Though the Taoiseach is described in the Constitution of Ireland as "the head of the Government or Prime Minister", its literal translation is ''chieftain'' or ''leader''. Although
Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera (, ; first registered as ''George de Valero''; changed some time before 1901 to ''Edward de Valera''; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. He served severa ...

Éamon de Valera
, who introduced the title in 1937, was neither a
Fascist Fascism () is a form of far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particular ...

Fascist
nor a dictator, it has sometimes been remarked that the meaning ''leader'' in 1937 made the title similar to the titles of Fascist dictators of the time, such as (
Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...
), () and (
Franco Franco may refer to: Name * Franco (name), includes a list of people with the name * Francisco Franco (1892–1975), Spanish general and dictator of Spain from 1939 to 1975 * Franco Luambo (1938–1989), Congolese musician, the "Grand Maître" ...

Franco
). Published in New York, 1944 (publisher not identified); Original from
University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (the U of M or Minnesota) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organ ...

University of Minnesota
; Digitized 6 May 2016
Original from the
University of California The University of California (UC) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university, research university system in the U.S. state of California. The system is composed of the campuses at University of Califor ...
; Digitized 6 December 2006
, in turn, refers to the system of
tanistry Tanistry is a Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, ...
, the
Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Whe ...

Gaelic
system of succession whereby a leader would appoint an
heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when it becomes vacated such as head of state A head of state ...
while still living. In
Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig ), also known as Scots Gaelic and Gaelic, is a Goidelic language The Goidelic or Gaelic languages ( ga, teangacha Gaelacha; gd, cànanan Goidhealach; gv, çhengaghyn Gaelgagh) form one of the two groups o ...
, translates as
clan A clan is a group of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of ...
chief and both words originally had similar meanings in the
Gaelic languages The Goidelic or Gaelic languages ( ga, teangacha Gaelacha; gd, cànanan Goidhealach; gv, çhengaghyn Gaelgagh) form one of the two groups of Insular Celtic languages, the other being the Brittonic languages. Goidelic languages historically ...
of Scotland and Ireland. The related
Welsh language Welsh ( or ) is a Brittonic language of the Celtic language family The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic. They form a branch of the Indo-European language family. The term "Celtic" ...
word (current meaning: 'prince') has a similar origin and meaning. It is hypothesized that both derive ultimately from the
proto-Celtic The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language In the tree model In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change ...
'chieftain, leader'. The plural of is (Northern and Western , Southern: ). Although the Irish form is sometimes used in English instead of 'the Taoiseach', the English version of the Constitution states that he or she "shall be called … the Taoiseach".


Debate on the title

In 1937 when the draft Constitution of Ireland was being debated in the Dáil,
Frank MacDermot Frank C. J. MacDermot (25 November 1886 – 24 June 1975) was an Irish barrister, soldier and politician who served as Senator from 1937 to 1943, after being Nominated members of Seanad Éireann, nominated by the Taoiseach. He served as a Teachta D ...
, an opposition politician, moved an amendment to substitute "Prime Minister" for the proposed "Taoiseach" title in the English text of the Constitution. It was proposed to keep the "Taoiseach" title in the Irish language text. The proponent remarked: The President of the Executive Council, Éamon de Valera, gave the term's meaning as "chieftain" or "Captain". He said he was "not disposed" to support the proposed amendment and felt the word "Taoiseach" did not need to be changed. The proposed amendment was defeated on a vote and "Taoiseach" was included as the title ultimately adopted by plebiscite of the people.


Modern office

The modern position of Taoiseach was established by the 1937
Constitution of Ireland The Constitution of Ireland ( ga, Bunreacht na hÉireann, ) is the constitution, fundamental law of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. It asserts the national sovereignty of the Irish people. The constitution is broadly within the tradition of liberal ...
and is the most powerful role in Irish politics. The office replaced the position of President of the Executive Council of the 1922–1937
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
. The positions of Taoiseach and President of the Executive Council differed in certain fundamental respects. Under the
Constitution of the Irish Free State A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an ...
, the latter was vested with considerably less power and was largely just the chairman of the cabinet, the Executive Council. For example, the President of the Executive Council could not dismiss a fellow minister on his own authority. Instead, the Executive Council had to be disbanded and reformed entirely to remove a member. The President of the Executive Council also did not have the right to advise the Governor-General to dissolve Dáil Éireann on his own authority, that power belonging collectively to the Executive Council. In contrast, the Taoiseach created in 1937 possesses a much more powerful role. The holder of the position can both advise the President to dismiss ministers and dissolve Parliament on his own authority—advice that the President is almost always required to follow by convention. His role is greatly enhanced because under the Constitution, he is both and chief executive. In most other parliamentary democracies, the head of state is at least the nominal chief executive, while being bound by convention to act on the advice of the cabinet. In Ireland, however, executive power is explicitly vested in the Government, of which the Taoiseach is the leader. Since the Taoiseach is the head of government, and may remove ministers at will, many of the powers specified, in law or the constitution, to be exercised by the government as a collective body, are in reality at the will of the Taoiseach. The Government almost always backs the Taoiseach in major decisions, and in many cases often merely formalizes that decision at a subsequent meeting after it has already been announced. Nevertheless the need for collective decision making on paper acts as a safeguard against an unwise decision made by the Taoiseach. Generally, where there have been multi-party or coalition governments, the Taoiseach has been 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 Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
leader
Richard Mulcahy page=32, alt=Military intelligence file for Richard Mulcahy, Military intelligence file for Richard Mulcahy Richard James Mulcahy (10 May 1886 – 16 December 1971) was an Irish Fine Gael politician and army general who served as Minister for Ed ...

Richard Mulcahy
as Taoiseach. In 2011 Taoiseach Brian Cowen, resigned as party leader and was succeeded by
Micheál Martin Micheál Martin (; born 1 August 1960) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who has served as Taoiseach since June 2020 and as Leader of Fianna Fáil since January 2011. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South-Central (Dáil constituency ...

Micheál Martin
, but continued as Taoiseach until the formation of a new government following a general election.


List of office holders

Before the enactment of the 1937 Constitution, the head of government was the President of the Executive Council. This office was first held by W. T. Cosgrave of
Cumann na nGaedheal Cumann na nGaedheal (; "Society of the Gaels The Gaels (; ga, Na Gaeil ; gd, Na Gàidheil ; gv, Ny Gaeil ) are an ethnolinguistic group native to Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island ...
from 1922 to 1932, and then by
Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera (, ; first registered as ''George de Valero''; changed some time before 1901 to ''Edward de Valera''; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. He served severa ...

Éamon de Valera
of
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conserva ...
from 1932 to 1937. By convention, Taoisigh are numbered to include Cosgrave; therefore, Micheál Martin is considered the 15th Taoiseach, not the 14th.


Timeline


See also

*
Politics of the Republic of Ireland Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channe ...
* Records of Irish heads of government since 1922 * Irish heads of government since 1919


Notes


References


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 booksellers. 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. There is a chapter by Garret FitzGerald on the role of the Taoiseach in a festschrift to Brian Farrell. There is a chapter by Eoin O'Malley on the Taoiseach and cabinet in ''Governing Ireland: From cabinet government to delegated governance'' (Eoin O'Malley and Muiris MacCarthaigh eds.) Dublin: IPA 2012.
"David Gwynn Morgan: What exactly is a caretaker taoiseach?"
''The Irish Times'', 8 March 2016


Biographies

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''


External links

* {{Prime Minister Taoisigh Department of the Taoiseach Government ministers of the Republic of Ireland Heads of government Lists of political office-holders in the Republic of Ireland Titles of national or ethnic leadership Westminster system
Taoiseach The Taoiseach is the prime minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a p ...
1937 establishments in Ireland