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Legislation: Ireland

Subjects: Law

Irish legislative process

Leinster House

Acts of the Oireachtas

All primary legislation start life as Bills which are proposals for legislation: those applicable to the general body of citizens are called Public Bills and those promoted by local authorities and private bodies or individuals for their own purposes are called Private Bills. Private Bills are very rare and are dealt with under separate procedures.

Bills can be introduced in either the Dáil or Seanad and there are five stages in considering a Bill. The second and third stages are considered the most important as they offer the fullest opportunities to Members to discuss and amend the contents of the Bill.

Once a Bill has been passed by both Houses, the Taoiseach presents a vellum copy of the Bill, prepared in the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas to the President for signature and promulgation as a law. The signed text is then enrolled for record in the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court.

(The above text is printed courtesy of the Houses of the Oireachtas)

Statutory Instruments

Secondary legislation, in the form of Statutory Instruments, is governed by the Statutory Instruments Act 1947. There are five main types of statutory instrument orders, regulations, rules, bye-laws and schemes. Secondary legislation was issued in the form of Statutory Rules and Orders between 1922 and 1947.

Statutory Instruments have a wide variety of functions. They are not enacted by the Oireachtas but allow persons or bodies to whom legislative power has been delegated by statute to legislate in relation to detailed day-to-day matters arising from the operation of the relevant primary legislation. Statutory instruments are used, for example, to implement European Council Directives, designate the days on which particular District Courts sit and delegate the powers of Ministers.

Specified Government Ministers and other agencies and bodies are authorised to make Statutory Instruments and several hundred instruments are made annually

    Irish legislation in print

    The acts of the Oireachtas passed in the year ..

    Classmark: Ireland 011

    From 1927 onwards. These are arranged by year and are not amended.

    Irish Current law monthly digest

    Classmark: Ireland 200 I65

    From 1994- onwards.  Contains statutes as originally enacted with annotations.

    Statutory Instruments:

    Classmark: Ireland 090

    From 1948 onwards Arranged by broad subject these have summaries of statutory intruments with some major instruments being reprinted in full.

    Legislation Directory:

    Classmark: Ireland 510 L416d/102 1

    Law Reform Commission of Ireland list of current legislation

    Finding Irish legislation

    Legislation is often easier found online - for which see links below - but note the statement on the Irish Statute Book site

    "The official version of the Acts of the Oireachtas and Statutory Instruments remains the printed version published by Government Publications."

    To find out what hard copy resources the Law Bod has, please consult the box to the right.

    Legislation Directory

    "The Legislation Directory is a publicly available index which tracks changes to primary legislation from the pre and post 1922 periods, and to secondary legislation from 1999 onwards. The Legislation Directory is no longer published as such on the Irish Statute Book online website, but the relevant tables are linked from each page of the Acts and SIs.

    For example, if you need to find out in what ways the Succession Act 1965 has been amended, you look up 1965, find the Succession Act and look up the table of changes or "legislative effects".  The amending legislation is hyperlinked so you can quickly check out what the amendment entails.

    The Legislation Directory is a vital source of information for legal professionals and anyone working with legislation to assist them in checking the current version of the law.  It is the key index in making law accessible to users. The ongoing maintenance by the Commission of the Legislation Directory complements the Commission's work on preparation of Revised Acts, which uses the research in the Legislation Directory to produce up to date versions of legislation."

    Text from Accessed 13 June 2017.​

    Two more online tools: