The Irish Government
Ireland is a parliamentary democracy. The Head of the Government is the Taoiseach. The Tánaiste is the Deputy Prime Minister. There are 15 Government Departments. The Taoiseach and the Ministers collectively form the Government under the Irish constitution, and they hold executive power.
The Parliament is called the Oireachtas. There are two Houses of Parliament: Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) and Seanad Éireann (Senate). The Dáil has 166 members known as Teachtaí Dála (TD), who are elected using proportional representation with a single transferrable vote (PR-STV). Elections take place at least every five years. The current government, elected in 2011, is a coalition between Fine Gael and Labour. The other main political parties represented in the Dáil are Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.
The Seanad has 60 members, eleven of whom are nominated by the Taoiseach. The rest are elected from vocational panels and by national universities. The Seanad can initiate or revise legislation, but the Dáil can reject their amendments and proposed legislation.
The President of Ireland
The President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann) serves as head of state and is directly elected by the people. The current President, elected in 2011, is Michael D Higgins. Presidents are elected for seven years, and can serve no more than two terms. The President has a largely ceremonial role.
There are 114 local authorities in Ireland. They provide a wide range of services, including housing, transport, water supply, waste management, education, health and welfare.
Images courtesy of the Oireachtas and Áras an Uachtaráin.