President of Ireland
Overview
 
The President of Ireland is the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. The President is usually directly elected by the people for seven years, and can be elected for a maximum of two terms. The presidency is largely a ceremonial office
Figurehead
A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and 19th century.-History:Although earlier ships had often had some form of bow ornamentation A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and...

, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute discretion. The President's official residence is Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin , formerly the Viceregal Lodge, is the official residence of the President of Ireland. It is located in the Phoenix Park on the northside of Dublin.-Origins:...

 in Dublin. The office was established by the Constitution of Ireland
Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

 in 1937, and became internationally recognised as head of state in 1949 following the coming into force of the Republic of Ireland Act.

The current president is Michael D. Higgins
Michael D. Higgins
Michael Daniel Higgins is the ninth and current President of Ireland, having taken office on 11 November 2011 following victory in the 2011 Irish presidential election. Higgins is an Irish politician, poet, sociologist, author and broadcaster. Higgins was President of the Labour Party until his...

, who was elected on 29 October 2011.
Encyclopedia
The President of Ireland is the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. The President is usually directly elected by the people for seven years, and can be elected for a maximum of two terms. The presidency is largely a ceremonial office
Figurehead
A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and 19th century.-History:Although earlier ships had often had some form of bow ornamentation A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and...

, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute discretion. The President's official residence is Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin , formerly the Viceregal Lodge, is the official residence of the President of Ireland. It is located in the Phoenix Park on the northside of Dublin.-Origins:...

 in Dublin. The office was established by the Constitution of Ireland
Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

 in 1937, and became internationally recognised as head of state in 1949 following the coming into force of the Republic of Ireland Act.

The current president is Michael D. Higgins
Michael D. Higgins
Michael Daniel Higgins is the ninth and current President of Ireland, having taken office on 11 November 2011 following victory in the 2011 Irish presidential election. Higgins is an Irish politician, poet, sociologist, author and broadcaster. Higgins was President of the Labour Party until his...

, who was elected on 29 October 2011. His inauguration was held on 11 November 2011.

Ordinary duties and functions

The Constitution of Ireland
Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

 provides for a parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 of government, under which the role of the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 is largely a ceremonial one. The President is formally one of three tiers of the Oireachtas
Oireachtas
The Oireachtas , sometimes referred to as Oireachtas Éireann, is the "national parliament" or legislature of Ireland. The Oireachtas consists of:*The President of Ireland*The two Houses of the Oireachtas :**Dáil Éireann...

 (national parliament), which also comprises Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 (the lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

) and Seanad Éireann
Seanad Éireann
Seanad Éireann is the upper house of the Oireachtas , which also comprises the President of Ireland and Dáil Éireann . It is commonly called the Seanad or Senate and its members Senators or Seanadóirí . Unlike Dáil Éireann, it is not directly elected but consists of a mixture of members chosen by...

 (the Senate or upper house
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

).

Unlike many other republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

s, executive authority is expressly vested in the Government (cabinet). Thus, the President is not even the nominal chief executive. The Government is obliged, however, to keep the President generally informed on matters of domestic and foreign policy. Most of the functions of the President may only be carried out in accordance with the strict instructions of the Constitution, or the binding 'advice' of the Government. The President does, however, possess certain personal powers that may be exercised at his or her discretion.

Ceremonial functions

The main functions are prescribed by the Constitution:
Appoints the Government: The President appoints the Taoiseach
Taoiseach
The Taoiseach 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 , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 (head of government) and other ministers, and accepts their resignations. The Taoiseach is appointed upon the nomination of the Dáil, and the remainder of the cabinet upon the nomination of the Taoiseach and approval of the Dáil. Ministers are dismissed on the advice of the Taoiseach and the Taoiseach must, unless there is a dissolution of the Dáil, resign upon losing the confidence
Motion of no confidence
A motion of no confidence is a parliamentary motion whose passing would demonstrate to the head of state that the elected parliament no longer has confidence in the appointed government.-Overview:Typically, when a parliament passes a vote of no...

 of the house.
Appoints the judiciary: The President appoints the judges to all Courts of the Republic of Ireland
Courts of the Republic of Ireland
The Courts of the Republic of Ireland consist of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal, the High Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court. The courts apply the laws of Ireland. Ireland is a common law jurisdiction and trials for serious offences must usually be held before a jury...

, on the advice of the Government.
Convenes and dissolves the Dáil: This power is exercised on the advice of the Taoiseach; government or Dáil approval is not needed. The President may only refuse a dissolution
Dissolution of parliament
In parliamentary systems, a dissolution of parliament is the dispersal of a legislature at the call of an election.Usually there is a maximum length of a legislature, and a dissolution must happen before the maximum time...

 when a Taoiseach has lost the confidence of the Dáil.
Signs bills into law: The President cannot veto
Veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

 a bill
Bill (proposed law)
A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act or a statute....

 that the Dáil and the Seanad have adopted. However, he/she may refer it to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality. If the Supreme Court upholds the bill, the President must sign it. If, however, it is found to be unconstitutional, the President will decline to give assent.
Represents the state in foreign affairs: This power is exercised only on the advice of the Government. The President accredits ambassadors and receives the letters of credence
Letter of Credence
A letter of credence is a formal letter usually sent by one head of state to another that formally grants diplomatic accreditation to a named individual to be their ambassador in the country of the head of state receiving the letter...

 of foreign diplomats. Ministers sign international treaties in the President's name. This role was not exercised by the President prior to the Republic of Ireland Act 1948
Supreme commander of the Defence Forces
Irish Defence Forces
The armed forces of Ireland, known as the Defence Forces encompass the Army, Naval Service, Air Corps and Reserve Defence Force.The current Supreme Commander of the Irish Defence forces is His Excellency Michael D Higgins in his role as President of Ireland...

: This role is somewhat similar in statute to that of a commander-in-chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

. An officer
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

's commission is signed and sealed by the President. This is a nominal position, the powers of which are exercised on the advice of the Government. (See Minister for Defence
Minister for Defence (Ireland)
The Minister for Defence is the senior minister at the Department of Defence in the Government of Ireland. Under new arrangements this department is being merged with the Department of Justice over which Mr. Shatter will also preside....

.)
Power of pardon: The President, on the advice of the Government, has "the right of pardon
Pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

 and the power to commute
Commutation of sentence
Commutation of sentence involves the reduction of legal penalties, especially in terms of imprisonment. Unlike a pardon, a commutation does not nullify the conviction and is often conditional. Clemency is a similar term, meaning the lessening of the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime...

 or remit punishment". Pardon, for miscarriages of justice
Miscarriage of justice
A miscarriage of justice primarily is the conviction and punishment of a person for a crime they did not commit. The term can also apply to errors in the other direction—"errors of impunity", and to civil cases. Most criminal justice systems have some means to overturn, or "quash", a wrongful...

, has applied rarely: Thomas Quinn in 1940, Brady in 1943, and Nicky Kelly
Nicky Kelly
Nicky Kelly is an Irish politician from Arklow in County Wicklow. In the 1980s he achieved fame throughout Ireland after he had been sentenced, in 1978, to 12 years in prison for his alleged part in the Sallins train robbery. The ensuing campaign to release him became a symbol of the 1980s with...

 in 1992. The current procedure is specified by Section 7 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1993. There were plans in 2005 for paramilitary "on the run
Fugitive
A fugitive is a person who is fleeing from custody, whether it be from private slavery, a government arrest, government or non-government questioning, vigilante violence, or outraged private individuals...

s" to receive pardons as part of the Northern Ireland peace process
Northern Ireland peace process
The peace process, when discussing the history of Northern Ireland, is often considered to cover the events leading up to the 1994 Provisional Irish Republican Army ceasefire, the end of most of the violence of the Troubles, the Belfast Agreement, and subsequent political developments.-Towards a...

, to supplement the 1998 early release of serving prisoners after the Good Friday Agreement. This was controversial and was soon abandoned along with similar British proposals. Power of commutation and remittance are not restricted to the President, though this was the case for death sentences handed down prior to the abolition of capital punishment
Capital punishment in Ireland
Capital punishment has been abolished in the Republic of Ireland. The last execution was in 1954. From then until 1990 while capital punishment remained on the statute book, a practice arose whereby every sentence of death was commuted by the Irish president...

.

Other functions specified by statute or otherwise include:
  • The President is ex officio President of the Irish Red Cross Society
    Irish Red Cross
    The Irish Red Cross Society , commonly referred to as the Irish Red Cross , is the National Red Cross Society in the Republic of Ireland. It was established by Nurse Elizabeth O'Herrin either on 1 July or 1 August 1939 on the approach of the Second World War...

    .
  • The President appoints, on the advice of the Government, the Senior Professors and chairman of the council of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
    Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
    The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies Dublin, Ireland was established in 1940 by the Taoiseach of the time, Éamon de Valera under the . The Institute consists of 3 schools: The , the and the . The directors of these schools are currently Professor Werner Nahm, Professor Luke Drury and...

    ; the governor of the Central Bank of Ireland; the members of the Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal; the Ombudsman; and the members of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission
    Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission
    The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission is an independent statutory body in Ireland charged with overseeing An Garda Síochána, the police force of the Republic of Ireland. It was established under the Garda Síochána Act, 2005. The Commission deals with complaints from members of the public about...

    .
  • The President appoints one trustee
    Trustee
    Trustee is a legal term which, in its broadest sense, can refer to any person who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility for the benefit of another...

     to the Chester Beatty Library
    Chester Beatty Library
    The Chester Beatty Library was established in Dublin, Ireland in 1950, to house the collections of mining magnate, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. The present library, on the grounds of Dublin Castle, opened on February 7, 2000, the 125th anniversary of Sir Alfred's birth and was named European Museum...

    . This was specified in Chester Beatty's will and given effect by a 1968 Act of the Oireachtas.
  • The President is the patron
    Patrón
    Patrón is a luxury brand of tequila produced in Mexico and sold in hand-blown, individually numbered bottles.Made entirely from Blue Agave "piñas" , Patrón comes in five varieties: Silver, Añejo, Reposado, Gran Patrón Platinum and Gran Patrón Burdeos. Patrón also sells a tequila-coffee blend known...

     of Gaisce – The President's Award, established by trust deed
    Trust deed
    Deed of trust may refer to:* Trust deed * Trust instrument, a legal instrument in common law systems* Trust Deed , used in Scottish law* Deed of Trust , music album...

     in 1985.

Special limitations

  • The President may not leave the state without the consent of the Government.
  • Every formal address or message "to the nation" or to either or both Houses of the Oireachtas must have prior approval of the Government. Other than on these two (quite rare) occasions there is no limitation on the President's right to speak. While earlier presidents were exceptionally cautious in delivering speeches and on almost every occasion submitted them for vetting, Mary Robinson
    Mary Robinson
    Mary Therese Winifred Robinson served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate...

     and Mary McAleese
    Mary McAleese
    Mary Patricia McAleese served as the eighth President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011. She was the second female president and was first elected in 1997 succeeding Mary Robinson, making McAleese the world's first woman to succeed another as president. She was re-elected unopposed for a second term in...

     have made much more use of their right to speak without government approval, with Mary McAleese doing many live radio and television interviews. Nonetheless, by convention Presidents refrain from direct criticism of the government.

Discretionary powers

The President possesses the following powers exercised "in his absolute discretion" according to the English version of the Constitution. The Irish version states that these powers are exercised as a chomhairle féin which is usually translated as "under his own counsel." In the event of a clash between the Irish and English versions of the constitution, the Irish one is given supremacy. Lawyers have suggested that a clash may exist in this case between both versions of the constitution. While "absolute discretion" appears to leave some freedom for manoeuvre for a president in deciding whether to initiate contact with the opposition, "own counsel" has been interpreted by some lawyers as suggesting that no contact whatsoever can take place. As a result of this clash, it is considered controversial for the president to be contacted by the leaders of any political parties in an effort to influence a decision made using the discretionary powers. It is required that, before exercising certain reserve powers, the President consult the Council of State
Council of State (Ireland)
The Council of State is a body established by the Constitution of Ireland to advise the President of Ireland in the exercise of many of his or her discretionary, reserve powers...

. However, the President is not compelled to act in accordance with the council's advice.

Refusal of a Dáil dissolution

The Taoiseach
Taoiseach
The Taoiseach 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 , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 is required to resign if he has "ceased to retain the support of a majority" of the Dáil, unless he asks the President to dissolve the Dáil. The President has the right to refuse such a request, in which case the Taoiseach must resign immediately. This power has never been invoked. However, the necessary circumstances existed in 1944, 1982 and 1994. The apparent discrepancy between the Irish and English versions of the Constitution has discouraged Presidents from contemplating the use of the power. On the three occasions when the necessary circumstances existed, presidents have adopted an ultra-strict application of a policy of non-contact with the opposition. The most notable instance of this was in January 1982, when Patrick Hillery
Patrick Hillery
Patrick John "Paddy" Hillery was an Irish politician and the sixth President of Ireland from 1976 until 1990. First elected at the 1951 general election as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Clare, he remained in Dáil Éireann until 1973...

 instructed an aide, Captain Anthony Barber, to ensure that no telephone calls from the opposition were to be passed on to him. (Nevertheless three opposition figures, including Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 leader Charles Haughey
Charles Haughey
Charles James "Charlie" Haughey was Taoiseach of Ireland, serving three terms in office . He was also the fourth leader of Fianna Fáil...

, demanded to be put through to Hillery, with Haughey threatening to end Barber's career if the calls weren't put through. Hillery, as Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces, recorded the threat in Barber's file and recorded that Barber had been acting on his instructions in refusing the call). Even without this consideration, refusing such a request would arguably create a constitutional crisis
Constitutional crisis
A constitutional crisis is a situation that the legal system's constitution or other basic principles of operation appear unable to resolve; it often results in a breakdown in the orderly operation of government...

, as it is considered a fairly strong constitutional convention
Constitutional convention (political custom)
A constitutional convention is an informal and uncodified procedural agreement that is followed by the institutions of a state. In some states, notably those Commonwealth of Nations states that follow the Westminster system and whose political systems derive from British constitutional law, most...

 that the head of state always grants a parliamentary dissolution. Having said this, Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson
Mary Therese Winifred Robinson served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate...

, who had been a distinguished constitutional lawyer, has stated that she would have refused Albert Reynolds
Albert Reynolds
Albert Reynolds , served as Taoiseach of Ireland, serving one term in office from 1992 until 1994. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize...

 a dissolution if he had asked for one after his coalition government fell apart in 1994.

Reference of bills to the people

If requested to do so by a petition signed by a majority of the membership of the Seanad, and one-third of the membership of the Dáil, the President may, after consultation with the Council of State, decline to sign into law a bill (other than a bill to amend the constitution) he/she considers to be of great "national importance" until it has been approved by either the people in an ordinary referendum
Ordinary referendum
The ordinary referendum is a referendum in the Republic of Ireland in which the president may refer a bill directly to the electorate before it becomes law. Articles 27 and 47 of the Constitution of Ireland provides for a referendum on a proposal other than a proposal to amend the constitution...

 or the Dáil reassembling after a general election, held within eight months. This power has never been used, and no such petition has been invoked. Of the 60 Senators, 11 are nominated by the Taoiseach, so there is rarely a majority opposed to a government bill.

Other

The President may appoint up to seven members of the Council of State, and remove or replace such appointed members. (See list of presidential appointees to the Council of State.) The following powers all require prior consultation with the Council of State, although the President need not take its advice:
Referral of bills to the Supreme Court: The President may refer a bill, in whole or part, to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality. If the Supreme Court finds any referred part unconstitutional, the entire bill falls. This power may not be applied to a money bill
Money bill
In the Westminster system , a money bill or supply bill is a bill that solely concerns taxation or government spending , as opposed to changes in public law.- Conventions :...

, a bill to amend the Constitution, or an urgent bill the time for the consideration of which has been abridged in the Seanad. This is the most widely used reserve power; a full list is at Council of State (Ireland)#Referring of bills. In a 1982 judgment delivered under such a referral, Chief Justice
Chief Justice of Ireland
The Chief Justice of Ireland is the president of the Supreme Court of Ireland.Under Constitution of Ireland, the Chief Justice of Ireland also occupies several positions ex officio, these include;* A possible judge of the High Court....

 Tom O'Higgins
Tom O'Higgins
Thomas Francis O'Higgins was an Irish Fine Gael politician, a barrister and a judge.Tom O'Higgins was born in Cork in 1916. He was the son of Thomas F. O'Higgins and the nephew of Kevin O'Higgins...

 bemoaned the crude strictures of the prescribed process; especially the fact that, if the court finds that a bill does not violate the Constitution, this judgment can never subsequently be challenged.
Abridgement of the time for bills in the Seanad: The President may, at the request of the Dáil, impose a time-limit on the period during which the Seanad may consider a bill. The effect of this power is to restrict the power of the Seanad to delay a bill that the Government considers urgent.
Appointment of a Committee of Privileges: The President may, if requested to do so by the Seanad, establish a Committee of Privileges to solve a dispute between the two Houses of the Oireachtas as to whether or not a bill is a money bill.
Address to the Oireachtas: The President may address, or send a message to, either or both Houses of the Oireachtas. Four such addresses have been made: one by de Valera, twice by Robinson, and once by McAleese (details at Council of State (Ireland)#Addresses to the Oireachtas). The approval of the government is needed for the message; in practice, the entire text is submitted.
Address to the Nation: The President may "address a message to the Nation" subject to the same conditions as an address to the Oireachtas. This power has never been used. Commonplace messages, such as Christmas greetings, are not considered to qualify.
Convention of meetings of the Oireachtas: The President may convene a meeting of either or both Houses of the Oireachtas. This power would allow the President to step in if, in extraordinary circumstances, the ordinary procedures for convening the houses had broken down.

Selection

The President is directly elected
Direct election
Direct election is a term describing a system of choosing political officeholders in which the voters directly cast ballots for the person, persons or political party that they desire to see elected. The method by which the winner or winners of a direct election are chosen depends upon the...

 by secret ballot
Secret ballot
The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous. The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery. The system is one means of achieving the goal of...

 using the Alternative Vote
Instant-runoff voting
Instant-runoff voting , also known as preferential voting, the alternative vote and ranked choice voting, is a voting system used to elect one winner. Voters rank candidates in order of preference, and their ballots are counted as one vote for their first choice candidate. If a candidate secures a...

, the single-winner analogue of the Single Transferable Vote
Single transferable vote
The single transferable vote is a voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through preferential voting. Under STV, an elector's vote is initially allocated to his or her most preferred candidate, and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, any surplus or...

.While Article 12.2.3° specifies "proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 by means of the single transferable vote", the Constitution Review Group and the All-Party Oireachtas Committee both recommend deleting "proportional representation", which does not apply to a single-winner election.
Under the Presidential Elections Act, 1993 a candidate's election formally takes place in the form of a 'declaration' by the returning officer
Returning Officer
In various parliamentary systems, a returning officer is responsible for overseeing elections in one or more constituencies.-Australia:In Australia a returning officer is an employee of the Australian Electoral Commission or a State Electoral Commission who heads the local divisional office...

. Where more than one candidate is nominated, the election is 'adjourned' so that a ballot can take place, allowing the electors to choose between candidates. A Presidential election is held in time for the winner to take office the day after the end of the incumbent's seven-year term. In the event of premature vacancy, an election must be held within sixty days.

Only resident Irish citizens
Irish nationality law
Irish nationality law is the law of the Republic of Ireland governing citizenship. A person may be an Irish citizen through birth, descent, marriage to an Irish citizen or through naturalisation. Irish nationality law is currently contained in the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship...

 aged eighteen or more may vote; a 1983 bill to extend the right to resident British citizens was ruled unconstitutional.

Candidates must be Irish citizens and over 35 years old. However, there is a discrepancy between the English- and Irish-language texts of Article 12.4.1°. According to the English text, an eligible candidate "has reached his thirty-fifth year of age", whereas the Irish text has this as "ag a bhfuil cúig bliana tríochad slán" ("has completed his thirty-five years"). Because a person's thirty-fifth year of life begins on his or her thirty-fourth birthday, this means there is a one year's difference between the minimum ages as stated in the two texts. Various proposals have been made to amend the Constitution so as to eliminate this discrepancy. At present, however, the Irish version of the subsection prevails in accordance with the rule stated in Article 25.5.4°.

Presidents can serve a maximum of two terms
Term limit
A term limit is a legal restriction that limits the number of terms a person may serve in a particular elected office. When term limits are found in presidential and semi-presidential systems they act as a method to curb the potential for monopoly, where a leader effectively becomes "president for...

, consecutive or otherwise. They must be nominated by one of the following:
  • At least 20 members of the Oireachtas
    Oireachtas
    The Oireachtas , sometimes referred to as Oireachtas Éireann, is the "national parliament" or legislature of Ireland. The Oireachtas consists of:*The President of Ireland*The two Houses of the Oireachtas :**Dáil Éireann...

    ; (there are 226 members)
  • At least four county or city councils
    Local government in the Republic of Ireland
    Local government functions in the Republic of Ireland are mostly exercised by thirty-four local authorities, termed county or city councils, which cover the entire territory of the state. The area under the jurisdiction of each of these authorities corresponds to the area of each of the 34 LAU I...

     (there are 34 councils)
  • Themselves (in the case of incumbent or former presidents who have served one term).

Where only one candidate is nominated, he or she is deemed elected without the need for a ballot. For this reason, where there is a consensus among political parties not to have a contest, the President may be 'elected' without the occurrence of an actual ballot. Since the establishment of the office this has occurred on six occasions.

The most recent presidential election was held on 27 October 2011.

Absence of a President

There is no office of Vice President
Vice president
A vice president is an officer in government or business who is below a president in rank. The name comes from the Latin vice meaning 'in place of'. In some countries, the vice president is called the deputy president...

 of Ireland. In the event of a premature vacancy a successor must be elected within sixty days. In a vacancy or where the President is unavailable, the duties and functions of the office are carried out by a Presidential Commission, consisting of the Chief Justice
Chief Justice of Ireland
The Chief Justice of Ireland is the president of the Supreme Court of Ireland.Under Constitution of Ireland, the Chief Justice of Ireland also occupies several positions ex officio, these include;* A possible judge of the High Court....

, the Ceann Comhairle
Ceann Comhairle
The Ceann Comhairle is the chairman of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas of Ireland. The person who holds the position is elected by members of the Dáil from among their number in the first session after each general election...

 (speaker) of the Dáil, and the Cathaoirleach
Cathaoirleach
Cathaoirleach is the title of the chairman of Seanad Éireann, the sixty-member upper house of the Oireachtas, the legislature of Ireland. The current Cathaoirleach is Senator Paddy Burke...

 (chairperson) of the Seanad. Routine functions, such as signing uncontentious bills into law, have often been fulfilled by the Presidential Commission when the President is abroad on a state visit
State visit
A state visit is a formal visit by a foreign head of state to another nation, at the invitation of that nation's head of state. State visits are the highest form of diplomatic contact between two nations, and are marked by ceremonial pomp and diplomatic protocol. In parliamentary democracies, heads...

. The government's power to prevent the President leaving the state is relevant in aligning the diplomatic and legislative calendars.

Technically each president's term of office expires at midnight on the day before the new president's inauguration. Therefore, between midnight and the inauguration the following day the presidential duties and functions are carried out by the Presidential Commission. The constitution also empowers the Council of State, acting by a majority of its members, to "make such provision as to them may seem meet" for the exercise of the duties of the president in any contingency the constitution does not foresee. The Council of State can therefore be considered the third in the line of succession. However, to date, it has never been necessary for the council to take up this role.

Vacancies in the presidency have occurred three times: on the death of Erskine Hamilton Childers
Erskine Hamilton Childers
Erskine Hamilton Childers served as the fourth President of Ireland from 1973 until his death in 1974. He was a Teachta Dála from 1938 until 1973...

 in 1974, and on the resignations of Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh
Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh
Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh served as the fifth President of Ireland, from 1974 to 1976. He resigned in 1976 after a clash with the government. He also had a notable legal career, including serving as Chief Justice of Ireland.- Early life :Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, one of four children, was born on 12 February...

 in 1976 and Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson
Mary Therese Winifred Robinson served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate...

 in 1997.

Official residence, salute, style and address

The official residence of the President is Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin , formerly the Viceregal Lodge, is the official residence of the President of Ireland. It is located in the Phoenix Park on the northside of Dublin.-Origins:...

, located in the Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park is an urban park in Dublin, Ireland, lying 2–4 km west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 16 km perimeter wall encloses , one of the largest walled city parks in Europe. It includes large areas of grassland and tree-lined avenues, and since the seventeenth...

 in Dublin. The ninety-two room building formerly served as the 'out-of-season' residence of the Irish Lord Lieutenant
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the British King's representative and head of the Irish executive during the Lordship of Ireland , the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 and the residence of two of the three Irish Governors-General
Governor-General of the Irish Free State
The Governor-General was the representative of the King in the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Until 1927 he was also the agent of the British government in the Irish state. By convention the office of Governor-General was largely ceremonial...

: Tim Healy
Timothy Michael Healy
Timothy Michael Healy, KC , also known as Tim Healy, was an Irish nationalist politician, journalist, author, barrister and one of the most controversial Irish Members of Parliament in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 and James McNeill
James McNeill
James McNeill was an Irish politician and diplomat, who served as first High Commissioner to London and second Governor-General of the Irish Free State....

. The President is normally referred to as 'President' or 'Uachtarán', rather than 'Mr/Madam President' or similar forms. (Note that A hUachtaráin (vocative case
Vocative case
The vocative case is the case used for a noun identifying the person being addressed and/or occasionally the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address, wherein the identity of the party being spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence...

) would be the correct address in Irish.) The style
Style (manner of address)
A style of office, or honorific, is a legal, official, or recognized title. A style, by tradition or law, precedes a reference to a person who holds a post or political office, and is sometimes used to refer to the office itself. An honorific can also be awarded to an individual in a personal...

 used is normally His Excellency/Her Excellency ; sometimes people may orally address the President as 'Your Excellency' ( ə 'həʎʃ̪ʲə), or simply 'President' ( [ə 'uːəxt̪ˠəɾaːn̥]). The Presidential Salute is taken from the National Anthem, "Amhrán na bhFiann
Amhrán na bhFiann
is the national anthem of Ireland. The music was composed by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney, and the original English lyrics were authored by Kearney. It is sung in the Irish language translation made by Liam Ó Rinn. The song has three verses, but the national anthem consists of the chorus only...

". It consists of the first four bars followed by the last five, without lyrics.

Inauguration

Under the Constitution, in assuming office the President must subscribe to a formal declaration, made publicly and in the presence of members of both Houses of the Oireachtas, judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court, and other "public personages". The inauguration of the President takes place in St Patrick's Hall in Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle off Dame Street, Dublin, Ireland, was until 1922 the fortified seat of British rule in Ireland, and is now a major Irish government complex. Most of it dates from the 18th century, though a castle has stood on the site since the days of King John, the first Lord of Ireland...

. The declaration is specified in Article 12.8; in English it is:
In the presence of Almighty God I do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will maintain the Constitution of Ireland and uphold its laws, that I will fulfil my duties faithfully and conscientiously in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and that I will dedicate my abilities to the service and the welfare of the people of Ireland. May God direct and sustain me.

To date every President has subscribed to the declaration in Irish. In 1993 the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed concern that, because of its religious language, the declaration amounts to a religious test for office. The Oireachtas Committee in 1998 recommended that the religious references be made optional.

Impeachment and removal from office

The President can be removed from office in two ways, neither of which has ever been invoked. The Supreme Court, in a sitting of at least five judges, may find the President "permanently incapacitated", while the Oireachtas may remove the President for "stated misbehaviour". Either house of the Oireachtas may instigate the latter process by passing an impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 resolution, provided at least thirty members move it and at least two thirds support it. The other house will then either investigate the stated charges or commission a body to do so; following which at least two thirds of members must agree both that the President is guilty and that the charges warrant removal.

Security and transport

As head of state of Ireland, the President receives the highest level of protection in the land. The Áras is protected by armed guards at all times and is encircled by security fencing. At all times the President travels with an armed security detail which is provided by the SDU (Special Detective Unit
Special Detective Unit
The Special Detective Unit is a unit of an Garda Síochána under its Crime & Security Branch. They are a replacement for the older Special Branch unit, which itself replaced the CID in 1923...

 - an elite wing of the Irish police force). The Presidential limousine is a Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Mercedes-Benz S-Class
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a series of luxury sedans produced by Mercedes-Benz, a division of Daimler AG. The classification was officially introduced in 1972 with the W116 S-Class, which succeeded previous Mercedes-Benz models dating to the mid-1950s...

 LWB. The Presidential Limousine is always navy blue and carries the Presidential standard on the left front wing and the tricolour on the right front wing. When traveling the Presidential limousine is always accompanied by support cars (normally BMW 5 series driven by members of the SDU) and several Garda motorcycle outriders which form a protective convoy around the car. The Presidential State Car is a 1947 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
For information on the Silver Wraith II, see Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.The Silver Wraith was the first post-war Rolls-Royce model and was made at the Crewe factory from 1946 to 1959....

 landaulet
Landaulet
A landaulet or landaulette is a car body style, "an enclosed sedan or coupé with a folding top at the extreme rear quarter, over the rear seat."...

te, which is used for ceremonial occasions. The President also has the full use of all Irish Air Corps
Irish Air Corps
The Air Corps is the air component of the Defence Forces of Ireland providing support to the Army and Naval Service, together with non-military air services such as search and rescue and the Ministerial Air Transport Service...

 aircraft at his/her disposal if so needed.

History

The office of President was established in 1937, in part as a replacement for the office of Governor-General
Governor-General of the Irish Free State
The Governor-General was the representative of the King in the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Until 1927 he was also the agent of the British government in the Irish state. By convention the office of Governor-General was largely ceremonial...

 that existed during the 1922–37 Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

. The seven year term of office of the President was inspired by that of the presidents of Weimar Germany. At the time the office was established critics warned that the post might lead to the emergence of a dictatorship. However, these fears were not borne out as successive Presidents played a limited, largely apolitical role in national affairs.

Head of state from 1937 to 1949

During the period of 1937 to 1949 it was unclear whether the Irish head of state was actually the President of Ireland or George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

, the King of Ireland
King of Ireland
A monarchical polity has existed in Ireland during three periods of its history, finally ending in 1801. The designation King of Ireland and Queen of Ireland was used during these periods...

. This period of confusion ended in 1949 when the state was declared to be a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

. The 1937 constitution did not mention the king; but nor did it state that the President was head of state, saying rather that the President "shall take precedence over all other persons in the State". The President exercised some powers that could be exercised by heads of state but which could also be exercised by governors or governors-general, such as appointing the Government and promulgating the law. However, in 1936 George VI had been declared "King of Ireland" and, under the External Relations Act of the same year, it was this king who represented the state in its foreign affairs. Treaties, therefore, were signed in the name of the 'King of Ireland', who also accredited ambassadors and received the letters of credence of foreign diplomats. Representing a state abroad is seen by many scholars as the key characteristic of a head of state. This role meant, in any case, that George VI was the Irish head of state in the eyes of foreign nations. The Republic of Ireland Act 1948, which came into force in April 1949, proclaimed a republic and transferred the role of representing the state abroad from George VI to the President. No change was made to the constitution.

Evolving role

After the inaugural presidency of Douglas Hyde
Douglas Hyde
Douglas Hyde , known as An Craoibhín Aoibhinn , was an Irish scholar of the Irish language who served as the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945...

, who was an interparty nominee for the office, the nominees of the Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 political party won every presidential election until 1990. The party traditionally used the nomination as a reward for its most senior and prominent members, such as party founder and longtime Taoiseach Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 and European Commissioner
European Commissioner
A European Commissioner is a member of the 27-member European Commission. Each Member within the college holds a specific portfolio and are led by the President of the European Commission...

 Patrick Hillery
Patrick Hillery
Patrick John "Paddy" Hillery was an Irish politician and the sixth President of Ireland from 1976 until 1990. First elected at the 1951 general election as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Clare, he remained in Dáil Éireann until 1973...

. Most of its occupants to that time followed Hyde's precedent-setting conception of the presidency as a conservative, low-key institution that used its ceremonial prestige and few discretionary powers sparingly. In fact, the presidency was such a quiet position that Irish politicians sought to avoid contested presidential elections as often as possible, feeling that the attention such elections would bring to the office was an unnecessary distraction, and office-seekers facing economic austerity would often suggest the elimination of the office as a money-saving measure.

Despite the historical meekness of the presidency, however, it has been at the center of some high-profile controversies. In particular, the fifth President, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh
Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh
Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh served as the fifth President of Ireland, from 1974 to 1976. He resigned in 1976 after a clash with the government. He also had a notable legal career, including serving as Chief Justice of Ireland.- Early life :Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, one of four children, was born on 12 February...

, faced a contentious dispute with the government in 1976 over the signing of a bill declaring a state of emergency, which ended in Ó Dálaigh's resignation. His successor, Patrick Hillery, was also involved in a controversy in 1982, when then Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald
Garret FitzGerald
Garret FitzGerald was an Irish politician who was twice Taoiseach of Ireland, serving in office from July 1981 to February 1982 and again from December 1982 to March 1987. FitzGerald was elected to Seanad Éireann in 1965 and was subsequently elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael TD in 1969. He...

 requested a dissolution of the Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

. Hillery was bombarded with phone calls from opposition members urging him to refuse the request, an action that Hillery saw as highly inappropriate interference with the President's constitutional role and resisted the political pressure.

The presidency began to be transformed in the 1990s. Hillery's conduct regarding the dissolution affair in 1982 came to light in 1990, imbuing the office with a new sense of dignity and stability. However, it was Hillery's successor, seventh President Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson
Mary Therese Winifred Robinson served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate...

, who ultimately revolutionized the presidency. The winner of an upset victory in the highly controversial election of 1990, Robinson was the Labour
Labour Party (Ireland)
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in the Republic of Ireland. The Labour Party was founded in 1912 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, by James Connolly, James Larkin and William X. O'Brien as the political wing of the Irish Trade Union Congress. Unlike the other main Irish...

 nominee, the first President to defeat Fianna Fáil in an election and the first female President. Upon election, however, Robinson took steps to de-politicize the office. She also sought to widen the scope of the presidency, developing new economic, political and cultural links between the state and other countries and cultures, especially those of the Irish diaspora
Irish diaspora
thumb|Night Train with Reaper by London Irish artist [[Brian Whelan]] from the book Myth of Return, 2007The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa,...

. Robinson used the prestige of the office to activist ends, placing emphasis during her presidency on the needs of developing countries, linking the history of the Great Irish Famine to today's nutrition, poverty and policy issues, attempting to create a bridge of partnership between developed and developing countries.

The role of the President in relation to Northern Ireland

The text of the Constitution of Ireland, as originally enacted in 1937, made reference in its controversial Articles 2 and 3 to two geopolitical entities: a thirty-two county 'national territory' (i.e., the island of Ireland), and a twenty-six county 'state' formerly known as the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

. The implication behind the title 'President of Ireland' was that the President would function as the head of all Ireland. However, this implication was challenged by the Ulster Unionists and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 which was the state internationally acknowledged as having jurisdiction over Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. Articles 2 and 3 were substantially amended in consequence of the 1998 Belfast Agreement
Belfast Agreement
The Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement , sometimes called the Stormont Agreement, was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process...

.

Ireland in turn challenged the proclamation in the United Kingdom of Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 in 1952 as '[Queen] of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'. The Irish government refused to attend royal functions as a result; for example, Patrick Hillery
Patrick Hillery
Patrick John "Paddy" Hillery was an Irish politician and the sixth President of Ireland from 1976 until 1990. First elected at the 1951 general election as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Clare, he remained in Dáil Éireann until 1973...

 declined on Government advice to attend the wedding of the Prince of Wales
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

 to Lady Diana Spencer
Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana, Princess of Wales was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 29 July 1981, and an international charity and fundraising figure, as well as a preeminent celebrity of the late 20th century...

 in 1981, to which he had been invited by Queen Elizabeth, just as Seán T. O'Kelly
Sean T. O'Kelly
Seán Thomas O'Kelly was the second President of Ireland . He was a member of Dáil Éireann from 1918 until his election as President. During this time he served as Minister for Local Government and Minister for Finance...

 had declined on government advice to attend the 1953 Coronation Garden Party at the British Embassy in Dublin. Britain in turn insisted on referring to the President as 'President of the Republic of Ireland' or 'President of the Irish Republic'.The office of "President of the Irish Republic
President of the Irish Republic
President of the Republic was the title given to the head of the Irish ministry or Aireacht in August 1921 by an amendment to the Dáil Constitution, which replaced the previous title, Príomh Aire or President of Dáil Éireann...

" existed in the separatist Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

 of 1919–21.
Letters of Credence from Queen Elizabeth, on the British government's advice, appointing United Kingdom ambassadors to Ireland were not addressed to the 'President of Ireland' but to the President personally (for example: 'President Hillery').

The naming dispute and consequent avoidance of contact at head of state level has gradually thawed since 1990. President Robinson (1990–97) chose unilaterally to break the taboo by regularly visiting the United Kingdom for public functions, frequently in connection with Anglo-Irish Relations
Anglo-Irish relations
British–Irish relations, or Anglo-Irish relations, refers to the relationship between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom since most of Ireland gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1922 as the Irish Free State.Relations between the two states have been...

 or to visit the Irish emigrant community in Great Britain. In another breaking of precedent, she accepted an invitation to Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

 by Queen Elizabeth II. Palace accreditation supplied to journalists referred to the "visit of the President of Ireland". Between 1990 and 2010, both Robinson and her successor President McAleese (1997– ) visited the Palace on numerous occasions, while senior royals - the Prince of Wales, Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Andrew, Duke of York KG GCVO , is the second son, and third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh...

, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex KG GCVO is the third son and fourth child of Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh...

 and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is the husband of Elizabeth II. He is the United Kingdom's longest-serving consort and the oldest serving spouse of a reigning British monarch....

 all visited both Presidents of Ireland at the Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin , formerly the Viceregal Lodge, is the official residence of the President of Ireland. It is located in the Phoenix Park on the northside of Dublin.-Origins:...

. The Presidents attended functions with the Princess Royal
Anne, Princess Royal
Princess Anne, Princess Royal , is the only daughter of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh...

. President Robinson jointly hosted a reception with the Queen at St. James's Palace, London, in 1995, to commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Queen's Colleges in 1845 (the Queen's Colleges are now known as Queen's University of Belfast
Queen's University of Belfast
Queen's University Belfast is a public research university in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The university's official title, per its charter, is the Queen's University of Belfast. It is often referred to simply as Queen's, or by the abbreviation QUB...

, University College Cork and National University of Ireland, Galway
National University of Ireland, Galway
The National University of Ireland, Galway is a constituent university of the National University of Ireland...

). These contacts eventually led to a state visit
Queen Elizabeth II's visit to the Republic of Ireland
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh made a state visit to the Republic of Ireland from 17 May to 20 May 2011, at the invitation of the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese....

 of Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth
-Queens regnant:* Elizabeth I of England , last Tudor monarch over England, reigned 1558–1603* Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth Realms, reigned since 1952-Queens consort, dowager and mother:...

 to Ireland in 2011.

Though the President's title implicitly asserted authority in Northern Ireland, in reality the Irish President needed government permission to visit there. (The Constitution of Ireland in Article 3 explicitly stated that "[p]ending the re-integration of the national territory" the authority of the Irish state did not extend to Northern Ireland. Presidents prior to the presidency of Mary Robinson were regularly refused permission by the Irish government to visit Northern Ireland.)

However, since the 1990s and in particular since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the president has regularly visited Northern Ireland. President McAleese, who is herself the first President of Ireland to have been born in Northern Ireland, continued on from President Robinson in this regard. In a sign of the warmth of modern British-Irish relations, she has even been warmly welcomed by most leading unionists. At the funeral for a child murdered by the Real IRA in Omagh
Omagh
Omagh is the county town of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is situated where the rivers Drumragh and Camowen meet to form the Strule. The town, which is the largest in the county, had a population of 19,910 at the 2001 Census. Omagh also contains the headquarters of Omagh District Council and...

 she symbolically walked up the main aisle of the church hand-in-hand with the Ulster Unionist Party
Ulster Unionist Party
The Ulster Unionist Party – sometimes referred to as the Official Unionist Party or, in a historic sense, simply the Unionist Party – is the more moderate of the two main unionist political parties in Northern Ireland...

 leader and then First Minister of Northern Ireland, David Trimble
David Trimble
William David Trimble, Baron Trimble, PC , is a politician from Northern Ireland. He served as Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party , was the first First Minister of Northern Ireland , and was a Member of the British Parliament . He is currently a life peer for the Conservative Party...

, MP. But in other instances, Mary McAleese has been criticised for certain comments, such as a reference to the way in which Protestant children in Northern Ireland had been brought up to hate Catholics just as German children had been encouraged to hate Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 under the Nazi regime, on 27 January 2005, following her attendance at the ceremony commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

. These remarks caused outrage among Northern Ireland's unionist politicians, and McAleese later apologised and conceded that her statement had been unbalanced. Despite the changes to Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution as part of the Good Friday Agreement the title of the office remains the "President of Ireland", as the Irish Constitution stipulates that the state's official name is simply "Ireland", and that the "Republic of" is merely its description, though there is now little dispute that the Presidency only has jurisdiction over the "Republic of" Ireland. However, she is regarded by many northern nationalists as their President, and calls have been made for voting rights in Presidential elections to be extended to the whole island.

Suggestions for reform

There have been many suggestions for reforming the office of President over the years. In 1996, the Constitutional Review Group recommended that the office of President should remain largely unchanged. However, it suggested that the Constitution should be amended to explicitly declare the President to be head of state (at present that term does not appear in the text), and that consideration be given to the introduction of a constructive vote of no confidence
Constructive vote of no confidence
The constructive vote of no confidence is a variation on the motion of no confidence which allows a parliament to withdraw confidence from a head of government only if there is a positive majority for a prospective successor...

 system in the Dáil, along the lines of that in Germany. If this system were introduced then the power of the President to refuse a Dáil dissolution would be largely redundant and could be taken away. The All-party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution's 1998 Report made similar recommendations.

In an October 2009 poll, concerning support for various potential candidates in the 2011 presidential election conducted by the Sunday Independent
Sunday Independent
The Sunday Independent is a broadsheet Sunday newspaper published in Ireland by Independent News and Media plc. The newspaper is edited by Aengus Fanning, and is the biggest selling Irish Sunday newspaper by a large margin ; average circulation of 291,323 between June 2004 and January 2005,...

, a "significant number" of people were said to feel that the presidency is a waste of money and should be abolished.

List of Presidents of Ireland

The functions of the President were exercised by the Presidential Commission
Presidential Commission (Ireland)
The Presidential Commission is the collective vice-presidency of Ireland.-Membership:Three members serve on the Presidential Commission.* Chief Justice – President of the Supreme Court* Ceann Comhairle – Presiding officer of Dáil Éireann...

 from the coming into force of the Constitution on 29 December 1937 until the election of Douglas Hyde in 1938, and during the vacancies of 1974, 1976, and 1997.
No. Name Picture Entered Office Left Office Nominated by Election
1. Douglas Hyde
Douglas Hyde
Douglas Hyde , known as An Craoibhín Aoibhinn , was an Irish scholar of the Irish language who served as the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945...

25 June 1938 24 June 1945 All-party nomination 1938
Irish presidential election, 1938
The Irish presidential election of 1938 was the first Irish presidential election, held to fill the new office of President of Ireland.After negotiations between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, a Fine Gael suggestion for the post endorsed by Fianna Fáil, former independent Senator and founder of the...

2. Seán T. O'Kelly
Sean T. O'Kelly
Seán Thomas O'Kelly was the second President of Ireland . He was a member of Dáil Éireann from 1918 until his election as President. During this time he served as Minister for Local Government and Minister for Finance...

25 June 1945 24 June 1959 Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...


HimselfIn 1952 Seán T. O'Kelly re-nominated himself, as was his right under the Constitution. This allowed him a free run, as he was not the nominee of a specific party, and the other parties could let him be re-elected unopposed without loss of face.
1945
1952
Irish presidential election, 1952
In the Irish presidential election of 1952, the second held since the creation of the office in 1937, the outgoing president, Seán T. O'Kelly decided to seek a second term. No party opposed him, though independent satirist Eoin O'Mahony tried and failed to be nominated. With only one nominated...

3. Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

25 June 1959 24 June 1973 Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...


Fianna FáilUnlike Seán T. O'Kelly in 1952, De Valera was renominated in 1966 by Fianna Fáil. As a result Fine Gael felt honour bound to nominate a candidate, albeit low key. In the event their candidate, Tom O'Higgins
Tom O'Higgins
Thomas Francis O'Higgins was an Irish Fine Gael politician, a barrister and a judge.Tom O'Higgins was born in Cork in 1916. He was the son of Thomas F. O'Higgins and the nephew of Kevin O'Higgins...

, came within 1% (or 10,000 votes) of winning.
1959
1966
Irish presidential election, 1966
The Irish presidential election of 1966 was held on 1 June 1966. The outgoing president Éamon de Valera reluctantly agreed under Fianna Fáil party pressure to seek a second term. Fine Gael decided to run one of its younger TDs, Tom O'Higgins against him. In an astonishing upset, O'Higgins came...

4. Erskine H. Childers
Erskine Hamilton Childers
Erskine Hamilton Childers served as the fourth President of Ireland from 1973 until his death in 1974. He was a Teachta Dála from 1938 until 1973...

25 June 1973 17 November 1974 Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

1973
5. Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh
Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh
Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh served as the fifth President of Ireland, from 1974 to 1976. He resigned in 1976 after a clash with the government. He also had a notable legal career, including serving as Chief Justice of Ireland.- Early life :Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, one of four children, was born on 12 February...

19 December 1974 22 October 1976 All-party nomination 1974
Irish presidential election, 1974
The Irish presidential election of 1974 resulted from the sudden death in office of President Erskine H. Childers. Initially all parties secretly agreed to nominate the late president's widow, Rita Childers...

6. Patrick Hillery
Patrick Hillery
Patrick John "Paddy" Hillery was an Irish politician and the sixth President of Ireland from 1976 until 1990. First elected at the 1951 general election as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Clare, he remained in Dáil Éireann until 1973...

3 December 1976 2 December 1990 Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...


Fianna Fáil
1976
Irish presidential election, 1976
The Irish presidential election of 1976 was precipitated by the sudden resignation of President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh in October 1976, following an attack on him by Paddy Donegan, the Minister for Defence in which the Minister called the President a "thundering disgrace" and implied he was disloyal...


1983
Irish presidential election, 1983
In the Irish presidential election of 1983 outgoing President Patrick Hillery agreed under enormous political pressure to seek a second term. Though former Nobel Peace Prize and Lenin Peace Prize winner Seán MacBride made it known in the Sunday Press newspaper that he wanted to contest the office,...

7. Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson
Mary Therese Winifred Robinson served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate...

3 December 1990 12 September 1997 Labour Party
Labour Party (Ireland)
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in the Republic of Ireland. The Labour Party was founded in 1912 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, by James Connolly, James Larkin and William X. O'Brien as the political wing of the Irish Trade Union Congress. Unlike the other main Irish...

,
Workers' Party
Workers' Party of Ireland
The Workers' Party is a left-wing republican political party in Ireland. Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970 after a split within the party, adopting its current name in 1982....

,
and Independent
Independent (politician)
In politics, an independent or non-party politician is an individual not affiliated to any political party. Independents may hold a centrist viewpoint between those of major political parties, a viewpoint more extreme than any major party, or they may have a viewpoint based on issues that they do...

s
1990
Irish presidential election, 1990
-Aftermath:While the role of the presidency in day to day politics is a very limited one the Robinson presidency is regarded by many observers as a watershed in Irish society symbolising the shift away from the conservative ultracatholic male-dominated Ireland which existed up until the end of the...

8. Mary McAleese
Mary McAleese
Mary Patricia McAleese served as the eighth President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011. She was the second female president and was first elected in 1997 succeeding Mary Robinson, making McAleese the world's first woman to succeed another as president. She was re-elected unopposed for a second term in...

11 November 1997 10 November 2011 Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...


Herself
1997
Irish presidential election, 1997
-References:...


2004
Irish presidential election, 2004
The Irish presidential election of 2004 was set for 22 October 2004. However, nominations closed at noon on 1 October and the incumbent president, Mary McAleese, who had nominated herself in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, was the only person nominated. Accordingly, she was...

9. Michael D. Higgins
Michael D. Higgins
Michael Daniel Higgins is the ninth and current President of Ireland, having taken office on 11 November 2011 following victory in the 2011 Irish presidential election. Higgins is an Irish politician, poet, sociologist, author and broadcaster. Higgins was President of the Labour Party until his...

11 November 2011 Incumbent Labour Party
Labour Party (Ireland)
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in the Republic of Ireland. The Labour Party was founded in 1912 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, by James Connolly, James Larkin and William X. O'Brien as the political wing of the Irish Trade Union Congress. Unlike the other main Irish...

2011

Former Presidents

Currently, there are two living former presidents. They are:
  • Mary Robinson, seventh President
  • Mary McAleese, eighth President


Former presidents who are willing and able to serve are members of the Council of State
Council of State (Ireland)
The Council of State is a body established by the Constitution of Ireland to advise the President of Ireland in the exercise of many of his or her discretionary, reserve powers...

.

See also

  • President of the Irish Republic
    President of the Irish Republic
    President of the Republic was the title given to the head of the Irish ministry or Aireacht in August 1921 by an amendment to the Dáil Constitution, which replaced the previous title, Príomh Aire or President of Dáil Éireann...

  • Gaisce – The President's Award
  • Seal of the President of Ireland
  • Presidential Standard of Ireland
  • Secretary-General to the President
    Secretary-General to the President
    The Secretary-General to the President is the senior Irish civil servant who both fulfils four distinct roles vis-à-vis the presidency of Ireland...

  • Warrant of Appointment
    Warrant of Appointment
    A Warrant of Appointment is the official document presented by the President of Ireland to persons upon appointment to certain high offices of State, signed by the President and bearing the Official Seal of the President. Warrants are presented, among others, to judges, the Attorney General, the...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK