Politics meets plain English: new guide to the Oireachtas


“EVERYTHING YOU ever wanted to know about Dáil Éireann but were afraid to ask” could be the subtitle of a new guide to the Oireachtas, published yesterday.

The proper title is A Brief Guide to How Your Parliament Worksand it is intended to be a jargon-free booklet for the ordinary citizen.

The 48-page guide, which is published in a combined English and Irish version, was launched at Leinster House by Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann, Seán Barrett, and Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, Paddy Burke.

Stressing the importance of avoiding jargon, Mr Barrett said: “The language used should help, not hinder, the public in understanding the work and relevance of parliament to our everyday lives.”

Mr Burke said: “This guide is a very welcome development in making the parliament more accessible to those that matter the most – the public.”

The booklet consists of answers to a series of questions, such as, “What do TDs and Senators do?”

The answer is as follows: “The main parliamentary function of TDs and Senators is to pass laws. They also take part in debates and make representations on behalf of members of the public, interest-groups and, in the case of TDs, their constituents. In addition, TDs may ask parliamentary questions.”

On the composition of the Upper House, the booklet points out that, “In theory, Seanad Éireann does not recognise political party membership. In practice, however, the make-up of the Seanad generally reflects the strength of the parties in Dáil Éireann.”

The guide is available free of charge from: The Communications Unit, Houses of the Oireachtas, Kildare Street, Dublin.

It can also be found on the lower right-hand side of the Oireachtas homepage, oireachtas.ie