Dáil Éireann

Article 16.3.2º of the Constitution of Ireland (1937) provides that an election for the membership of Dáil Éireann must take place not later than 30 days after a dissolution of the current Dáil. Article 16.4.2º requires that the newly elected Dáil Éireann must convene no later than 30 days after the polling day for the election. As such, the maximum period of time between a dissolution of Dáil Éireann before a general election and the meeting of the new Dáil after a general election is 60 days.

The procedure and timetable for the dissolution of Dáil Éireann, pursuant to a general election, and the date for the reassembly of the newly elected Dáil, after the election, is set out in the Constitution of Ireland. Article 13.2.1º states that "Dáil Éireann shall be summoned and dissolved by the President on the advice of the Taoiseach". Therefore, the timing of a general election rests with the Taoiseach of the day.

Once so advised by the Taoiseach, the President issues a proclamation which specifies the date on which the current Dáil is dissolved, and the date on which the newly elected Dáil must first meet.

The timing for polling day in a general election is decided on by the Taoiseach. However, this is governed within a specified statutory framework. Once the Presidential proclamation is issued, the sets, by way of a ministerial order, the date and time of polling day in the election.

"Where the Dáil is dissolved, the Clerk of the Dáil shall, immediately upon the issue of the Proclamation dissolving the Dáil, issue a writ to each returning officer for a constituency directing him to cause an election to be held of the full number of members of the Dáil to serve in the Dáil for that constituency."
(a) shall be taken on such day as shall be appointed by the Minister by order, being a day which (disregarding any excluded day) is not earlier than the seventeenth day or later than the twenty-fifth day next following the day on which the writ or writs for the election is or are issued,
(b) shall continue for such period, not being less than twelve hours, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10.30 p.m. as may be fixed by the Minister by order, subject to the restriction that, in the case of a general election, he shall fix the same period for all constituencies.

Therefore, if the Dáil were dissolved on a Tuesday 1 February (in a non-leap year), and the writs for elections issued by the Clerk of the Dáil on that day, then the earliest date for polling day would be Monday 21 February (17 days later, excluding Sundays) and the latest date for polling would be Wednesday 2 March (25 days after, excluding Sundays), with polling stations being open for a minimum 12-hour period between the hours of 8am and 10.30pm on polling day (as set out in the ministerial order). In such a scenario, the latest date by which the newly elected Dáil must assemble would be Wednesday 23 March (for a 21 February polling date), or Friday 1 April (for a 2 March polling date).

As of 2019, the Dáil sits on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays when the Oireachtas is sitting. On Tuesdays the Dáil normally sits from 2.00pm until 11.00pm, on Wednesdays from 10.30am until around 11.30pm and on Thursdays from 10.30am until around 8.00pm.

A typical day consists of questions to various cabinet ministers, Leaders questions whereby opposition Leaders ask the Taoiseach questions and routine debates on Bills. Every Tuesday and Wednesday three hours over the two days are given to the debate of opposition motions. These normally try to embarrass the government and are widely covered in the media. The government and its Majority normally amends these suitably and the amended version is passed by the Government.

Debate and speeches are generally in English, but TDs may switch between Irish and English.

The Ceann Comhairle then appoints two tellers for each side and deputies are given one minute to vote. The vote is taken by electronic means whereby Deputies press either the Tá or Níl button on their desks to vote for or against a motion. After the voting time has concluded a sheet (Division Paper) containing the result and each TDs vote is signed by the four tellers and given to the Ceann Comhairle who declares the result.

While electronic voting has become the norm the Dáil votes manually through the lobbies at the back of the chamber on a number of occasions, for example, motions of no confidence. A teller in an electronic vote can call a manual vote if they so wish. This has become an opposition tactic during important votes which are widely covered in the media.