Role of the Taoiseach
Article 28 of the Constitution refers to the role of Taoiseach and sets out the responsibilities of the Taoiseach as head of the Government. Article 28.12 refers to Ministers as “in charge of” Departments of State and Article 28.4.2 provides that the Government shall be collectively responsible for the Departments of State “administered” by the members of the Government.
The Department of the Taoiseach is under the charge of the Taoiseach and, in this respect, the responsibilities of the Taoiseach having charge of the Department of the Taoiseach are akin to the responsibilities of a Minister provided for in the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924 as amended by the PSMA 1997.
The Taoiseach assigns particular Departments to the Ministers on their appointment by the President. The Taoiseach also nominates the Attorney General for appointment by the President. The Taoiseach also has the power to advise the President to accept the resignation of Ministers. The Taoiseach also nominates eleven persons to serve in Seanad Éireann. The Taoiseach is, ex officio, a member of the Council of State.
The Government is responsible to Dáil Éireann. The Taoiseach announces the Order of Business at the commencement of the sitting of the Dáil on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This part of the Dáil business includes a Question and Answer facility (Leaders’ Questions) during which the Taoiseach responds to questions from Deputies about a wide variety of topics, which can be raised without prior notice.
The Taoiseach answers formal Parliamentary Questions in the Dáil every week on matters related to the administration of the Department of the Taoiseach or policy issues arising from the responsibilities exercised by the Department in support of the Taoiseach’s role as Head of Government. The Taoiseach may sponsor legislation where such legislation represents an important new development. The Taoiseach also participates in debates in the Houses of the Oireachtas, usually in relation to matters for which he has responsibility.
The Taoiseach, as Head of Government, is the central co-ordinator of the work of the Ministers and their Departments of State. The Taoiseach also advises and guides the other members of the Government when they are faced with issues requiring the successful working of the Government as a collective authority responsible to Dáil Éireann. The Taoiseach sets broad Government policy and keeps the President informed on domestic and international policy.
The Taoiseach may decide that particular matters are of such importance or breadth that it is appropriate that they should come under the aegis of the Department of the Taoiseach.