Dail Constitution 1919-1922

Constitution 1919 – 1922

The Constitution of Dáil Éireann (Irish: Bunreacht Dála Éireann) was the short, provisional constitution of the 1919- 1922 Irish Republic. It was adopted by the First Dáil at its first meeting on 21 January 1919 and theoretically remained in force for four years. As adopted it consisted of only five short articles. Article 1 declared that the Dáil had “full powers to legislate” and would consist of representatives elected in elections conducted by the British government. For the exercise of executive power it created a cabinet, answerable to the Dáil, called the Aireacht (or Ministry), headed by a prime minister called the “Príomh Aire” (in practice also known as the President of Dáil Éireann). The constitution made no reference to a judiciary but this did not prevent the Dáil from establishing a system of Dáil Courts. The final article of the constitution declared that it was intended to be a provisional document. As adopted the constitution came to only around 370 words.—

Article 1

All legislative powers shall be vested in Dail Eireann, composing of Deputies, elected by the Irish people from the existing Irish Parliamentary constituencies.

Article 2

(a) All executive powers shall be vested in the members, for the time being, of the Ministry. (b) The Ministry shall consist of a President of the Ministry, elected by Dail Eireann, and four

Executive Officers, viz.;

A Secretary of Finance
A Secretary of Home Affairs
A Secretary of Foreign Affairs A Secretary of National Defence

each of whom the President shall nominate and have power to dismiss.

(c) Every member of the Ministry shall be a member of Dail Eireann, and shall at all times be responsible to the Dail.
(d) At the first meeting of Dail Eireann after their nomination by the President, the names of the Executive Officers shall be separately submitted to Dail Eireann for approval.

(e) The appointment of the President shall date from his election, and the appointment of each Executive Officer from the date of the approval by the Dail of his nomination.
(f) The Ministry or any member thereof may at any time be removed by vote of the Dail upon motion for that specific purpose, provided that at least seven days notice in writing of that motion shall have been given.

Article 3

A Chairman elected annually by the Dail, and in his absence a Deputy Chairman so elected, shall preside at all meetings of Dail Eireann. Only members of the Dail shall be eligible for these offices. In case of the absence of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman the Dail shall fill the vacancies or elect a temporary Chairman.

Article 4

All monies required by the Ministry shall be obtained on vote of the Dail. The Ministry shall be responsible to the Dail for all monies so obtained, and shall present properly audited accounts for the expenditure of the same -twice yearly- in the months of May and November. The audit shall be conducted by an Auditor or Auditors appointed by the Dail. No member of the Dail shall be eligible for such appointment.

Article 5

This Constitution is provisional and is liable to alteration upon seven days written notice of motion for that specific purpose.

Alternative text First Section

Dáil Éireann shall possess full powers to legislate and shall be composed of Delegates (Teachtaí) chosen by the people of Ireland from the present constituencies of the country.

Second Section
1. Full executive powers shall be held at any time by the Ministry (Aireacht) in office at the time.

2. The Ministry shall be composed of the following: A Prime Minister (Príomh-Aireach) chosen by Dáil Éireann, and four other Ministers, viz.:

1. Minister of Finance (Aireach Airgid),
2. Minister of Home Affairs (A. Gnóthaí Duthchais), 3. Minister of Foreign Affairs (A. Gnóthaí Coigcríoch) 4. Minister of Defence (A. Cosanta).

The Prime Minister shall nominate the four others, and shall have power to dismiss them from office.

3. Every Minister must be a member of the Dáil, and shall at all times be answerable to the Dáil.

4. The names of Ministers must be put before the Dáil for ratification at the first assembly after their nomination by the Prime Minister.

5. The Prime Minister shall hold office as soon as elected and the other Ministers as soon as their appointment is ratified by the Dáil.

6. The Dáil shall have power by vote to dismiss the Ministry or any of the Ministers from office if a written order in the form of a unanimous resolution be presented for that object seven days previously.

Section Three

Every meeting of the Dáil shall be presided over by a Chairman (Ceann Cómhairle) or Vice-Chairman (Ceann Ionaid) chosen by the Dáil for the year. Should the Chairman and Vice-Chairman be absent, the Dáil shall select substitutes or elect a Provisional Chairman (Ceann Cómhairle Sealadach).

Section Four

The Ministry shall receive whatever money it needs, by vote of the Dáil. The Ministry shall be answerable to the Dáil for such moneys, and the accounts shall be audited with regard to the spending of money for the Dáil twice yearly, viz. at Samhain and Bealtaine (November and May). The auditing shall be carried out by an auditor or auditors chosen by the Dáil. No member of the Dáil shall be chosen as auditor.

Section Five

The present is a provisional constitution, and may be altered on a written unanimous order being given to that effect seven days previously.