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The National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making 2015-2020 (Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth: 20) defines participation as:
‘the process by which children and young people have active involvement and real influence in decision-making on matters affecting their lives, both directly and indirectly.’
This definition is consistent with Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which underlies this strategy, and Article 24 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The Child and Youth Participation Strategy 2019-2023 (Tusla, 2019: 2) defines participation as:
‘the involvement of children and young people in decision-making on issues that affect their lives, as part of a process of enacting their rights as citizens, at both the individual and collective levels.’
Institutions of representative democracy
The Republic of Ireland is a parliamentary representative democracy. Legislative power is vested in the Oireachtas, which consists of the President of Ireland and the two Houses of the Oireachtas: Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann.
Executive power is exercised by the Government, which is led by the Taoiseach (Prime Minister), whose deputy is the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister).
The Cabinet is nominated by the Taoiseach and approved by the Dáil, then appointed by the President.
Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the principal Chamber of the Oireachtas and has 158 Members. A Member's official Irish title is "Teachta Dála" (commonly known as TD), which in English means "Deputy to the Dáil".
By law, a General Election to Dáil Éireann must be held at least once every five years.
The Chair of the Dáil is called the Ceann Comhairle. His/her deputy is the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
The Seanad is the Upper House of the Oireachtas and has 60 Senators. The Chair of the Seanad is called the Cathaoirleach. His/her deputy is the Leas-Chathaoirleach.
The President of Ireland is elected to a seven-year term of office and no person may serve more than two terms. The current President is Michael D. Higgins.
The President, who does not have an executive or policy role, exercises his/her formal powers and functions on the advice of the Government.
The President has the power to refer a Bill to the Supreme Court for a judgment on its constitutionality. He/she may seek advice from the Council of State and refer the Bill to the Irish Supreme Court for a ruling on whether it complies with the Constitution.
Parliamentary committees play an important role in the business of the Oireachtas. They can receive submissions and hear evidence from interested parties or groups; discuss and draft proposals for legislative change; print and publish minutes of evidence and related documents; and require attendance of Ministers to discuss current policies and proposals for legislation.
There are four types of committees:
- Standing committee
- Joint committee
- Select committee
- Special committee (rare)
Voting is not compulsory in Ireland. Voting is cast by ballot box or by post in certain cases.