Dáil Éireann

Dáil Éireann is one of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Ireland's national parliament). Dáil Éireann is located in Dublin.

The Dáil consists of members of the Dáil or TDs - Teachta Dála. TDs are elected directly to the Dáil by the people of Ireland in a general election. If a vacancy occurs at the Dáil, the seat will be filled by a by-election. A list of TDs, grouped alphabetically by name including their postal addresses or TDs grouped by constituency is available.

The Constitution states that the number of TDs cannot be more than one for every 20,000 of the population and cannot be less than one for every 30,000. There are now 166 TDs.

The country is divided into 43 constituencies and every constituency must elect at least three members to the Dáil. As far as possible, the ratio of population to TD must be equal in each constituency.

The constituencies must be revised at least once every 12 years, although in practice they are revised after the census is published every five years.

TDs represent and work on behalf of the electors in their constituency.

The maximum life of the Dáil is 5 years, although at any time the Taoiseach may advise the President to dissolve the Dáil.

You can view information on the weekly schedule in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Work of a TD

Members of Dáil Eireann are elected by a general election. A TD (Teachta Dála) can be a member of a Government party, the Opposition or may sit as an independent TD. A TD represents everyone who is entitled to vote within his or her constituency. A list of TDs, grouped alphabetically with their postal addresses is available here.

A TD's work at Dáil Eireann involves meeting in plenary session on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. A typical day's work includes researching and preparing speeches for debates on social, economic, financial and budgetary issues. Debates in the Dáil are chaired by the Ceann Comhairle. View the official reports of all parliamentary debates in Ireland from 1919-2006 here.

TDs may also draft amendments to and examine proposals for new legislation. TDs contribute to debates about new legislation and other important matters, they vote on issues in the House, they attend Question Time, they participate in Committee work and they make written or oral representations to ministers or government departments on behalf of their constituencies.

There is a Committee system at Dáil Eireann. Specialist Committees advise the Dáil on a broad range of legislative, social, economic and financial business. Committees also examine Government expenditure. Joint Committees are committees from both Dáil Eireann and the Seánad sitting and voting together. A TD will often be a member of more than one Committee. View a list and membership of all parliamentary committees here.

As well as work at the Dáil and on Committees, TDs work within their own constituencies. They hold regular advice clinics throughout their constituencies so that voters can meet them personally. Often they provide assistance to constituents with a family/personal problem relating to a government department.

If a TD breaches the rules of procedure or the "Standing Orders" at the Dáil, he or she may be disciplined. In February 2002, the members of the Dáil adopted a Code of Conduct to ensure that their actions and decisions are taken in the best interests of the public. Read the terms of this Code of Conduct here.

Constitutional Privileges

TDs enjoy certain constitutional privileges. This means that they have certain rights and privileges that are set down by Bunreacht na hEireann (the Irish constitution).

TDs and Senators may not for example, be arrested when going to, returning from or being within the precincts of either of the Houses of Parliament (the Dáil or Seánad). This privilege does not apply to arrest for treason, felony or breach of the peace.

TDs and Senators may not be sued for defamation because of any speech in the House. This privilege protects members both in the House and at Committee hearings.

If a member of either House acts in a way that amounts to an abuse of a privilege, the Committee on Procedures and Privileges may recommend disciplining the member.