Time to Get Real on the Presidency
Deaglán de Bréadún
The race for the Presidency is intensely interesting, albeit at times a little silly. For some, it seems to be almost a vanity project, whereas this is a very serious political office. By way of a reminder, herewith the main section from the English-language version of Bunreacht na hÉireann/The Irish Constituion on the Presidency dealing with this topic. There’s more at http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/upload/static/256.htm
1. There shall be a President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann), hereinafter called the President, who shall take precedence over all other persons in the State and who shall exercise and perform the powers and functions conferred on the President by this Constitution and by law.
2. 1° The President shall be elected by direct vote of the people.
2° Every citizen who has the right to vote at an election for members of Dáil Éireann shall have the right to vote at an election for President.
3° The voting shall be by secret ballot and on the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
3. 1° The President shall hold office for seven years from the date upon which he enters upon his office, unless before the expiration of that period he dies, or resigns, or is removed from office, or becomes permanently incapacitated, such incapacity being established to the satisfaction of the Supreme Court consisting of not less than five judges.
2° A person who holds, or who has held, office as President, shall be eligible for re-election to that office once, but only once.
3° An election for the office of President shall be held not later than, and not earlier than the sixtieth day before, the date of the expiration of the term of office of every President, but in the event of the removal from office of the President or of his death, resignation, or permanent incapacity established as aforesaid (whether occurring before or after he enters upon his office), an election for the office of President shall be held within sixty days after such event.
4. 1° Every citizen who has reached his thirty-fifth year of age is eligible for election to the office of President.
2° Every candidate for election, not a former or retiring President, must be nominated either by:
i. not less than twenty persons, each of whom is at the time a member of one of the Houses of the Oireachtas, or
ii. by the Councils of not less than four administrative Counties (including County Boroughs) as defined by law.
3° No person and no such Council shall be entitled to subscribe to the nomination of more than one candidate in respect of the same election.
4° Former or retiring Presidents may become candidates on their own nomination.
5° Where only one candidate is nominated for the office of President it shall not be necessary to proceed to a ballot for his election.
5. Subject to the provisions of this Article, elections for the office of President shall be regulated by law.
6. 1° The President shall not be a member of either House of the Oireachtas.
2° If a member of either House of the Oireachtas be elected President, he shall be deemed to have vacated his seat in that House.
3° The President shall not hold any other office or position of emolument.
7. The first President shall enter upon his office as soon as may be after his election, and every subsequent President shall enter upon his office on the day following the expiration of the term of office of his predecessor or as soon as may be thereafter or, in the event of his predecessor’s removal from office, death, resignation, or permanent incapacity established as provided by section 3 hereof, as soon as may be after the election.
8. The President shall enter upon his office by taking and subscribing publicly, in the presence of members of both Houses of the Oireachtas, of Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Court, and other public personages, the following declaration:
“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 welfare of the people of Ireland. May God direct and sustain me.”
9. The President shall not leave the State during his term of office save with the consent of the Government.
1° The President may be impeached for stated misbehaviour.
2° The charge shall be preferred by either of the Houses of the Oireachtas, subject to and in accordance with the provisions of this section.
3° A proposal to either House of the Oireachtas to prefer a charge against the President under this section shall not be entertained unless upon a notice of motion in writing signed by not less than thirty members of that House.
4° No such proposal shall be adopted by either of the Houses of the Oireachtas save upon a resolution of that House supported by not less than two-thirds of the total membership thereof.
5° When a charge has been preferred by either House of the Oireachtas, the other House shall investigate the charge, or cause the charge to be investigated.
6° The President shall have the right to appear and to be represented at the investigation of the charge.
7° If, as a result of the investigation, a resolution be passed supported by not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House of the Oireachtas by which the charge was investigated, or caused to be investigated, declaring that the charge preferred against the President has been sustained and that the misbehaviour, the subject of the charge, was such as to render him unfit to continue in office, such resolution shall operate to remove the President from his office.
1° The President shall have an official residence in or near the City of Dublin.
2° The President shall receive such emoluments and allowances as may be determined by law.
3° The emoluments and allowances of the President shall not be diminished during his term of office.
1. 1° The President shall, on the nomination of Dáil Éireann, appoint the Taoiseach, that is, the head of the Government or Prime Minister.
2° The President shall, on the nomination of the Taoiseach with the previous approval of Dáil Éireann, appoint the other members of the Government.
3° The President shall, on the advice of the Taoiseach, accept the resignation or terminate the appointment of any member of the Government.
2. 1° Dáil Éireann shall be summoned and dissolved by the President on the advice of the Taoiseach.
2° The President may in his absolute discretion refuse to dissolve Dáil Éireann on the advice of a Taoiseach who has ceased to retain the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann.
3° The President may at any time, after consultation with the Council of State, convene a meeting of either or both of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
3. 1° Every Bill passed or deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas shall require the signature of the President for its enactment into law.
2° The President shall promulgate every law made by the Oireachtas.
4. The supreme command of the Defence Forces is hereby vested in the President.
5. 1° The exercise of the supreme command of the Defence Forces shall be regulated by law.
2° All commissioned officers of the Defence Forces shall hold their commissions from the President.
6. The right of pardon and the power to commute or remit punishment imposed by any court exercising criminal jurisdiction are hereby vested in the President, but such power of commutation or remission may also be conferred by law on other authorities.
7. 1° The President may, after consultation with the Council of State, communicate with the Houses of the Oireachtas by message or address on any matter of national or public importance.
2° The President may, after consultation with the Council of State, address a message to the Nation at any time on any such matter.
3° Every such message or address must, however, have received the approval of the Government.
8. 1° The President shall not be answerable to either House of the Oireachtas or to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and functions of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done by him in the exercise and performance of these powers and functions.
2° The behaviour of the President may, however, be brought under review in either of the Houses of the Oireachtas for the purposes of section 10 of Article 12 of this Constitution, or by any court, tribunal or body appointed or designated by either of the Houses of the Oireachtas for the investigation of a charge under section 10 of the said Article.
9. The powers and functions conferred on the President by this Constitution shall be exercisable and performable by him only on the advice of the Government, save where it is provided by this Constitution that he shall act in his absolute discretion or after consultation with or in relation to the Council of State, or on the advice or nomination of, or on receipt of any other communication from, any other person or body.
10. Subject to this Constitution, additional powers and functions may be conferred on the President by law.
11. No power or function conferred on the President by law shall be exercisable or performable by him save only on the advice of the Government.
1. In the event of the absence of the President, or his temporary incapacity, or his permanent incapacity established as provided by section 3 of Article 12 hereof, or in the event of his death, resignation, removal from office, or failure to exercise and perform the powers and functions of his office or any of them, or at any time at which the office of President may be vacant, the powers and functions conferred on the President by or under this Constitution shall be exercised and performed by a Commission constituted as provided in section 2 of this Article.
2. 1° The Commission shall consist of the following persons, namely, the Chief Justice, the Chairman of Dáil Éireann (An Ceann Comhairle), and the Chairman of Seanad Éireann.
2° The President of the High Court shall act as a member of the Commission in the place of the Chief Justice on any occasion on which the office of Chief Justice is vacant or on which the Chief Justice is unable to act.
3° The Deputy Chairman of Dáil Éireann shall act as a member of the Commission in the place of the Chairman of Dáil Éireann on any occasion on which the office of Chairman of Dáil Éireann is vacant or on which the said Chairman is unable to act.
4° The Deputy Chairman of Seanad Éireann shall act as a member of the Commission in the place of the Chairman of Seanad Éireann on any occasion on which the office of Chairman of Seanad Éireann is vacant or on which the said Chairman is unable to act.
3. The Commission may act by any two of their number and may act notwithstanding a vacancy in their membership.
4. The Council of State may by a majority of its members make such provision as to them may seem meet for the exercise and performance of the powers and functions conferred on the President by or under this Constitution in any contingency which is not provided for by the foregoing provisions of this Article.
5. 1° The provisions of this Constitution which relate to the exercise and performance by the President of the powers and functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution shall subject to the subsequent provisions of this section apply to the exercise and performance of the said powers and functions under this Article.
2° In the event of the failure of the President to exercise or perform any power or function which the President is by or under this Constitution required to exercise or perform within a specified time, the said power or function shall be exercised or performed under this Article, as soon as may be after the expiration of the time so specified.