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Title: Cathaoirleach  
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Cathaoirleach of
Seanad Éireann
Paddy Burke

since 25 May 2011
Appointer Elected by the members of Seanad Éireann at start of a new term after a general election.
Term length No term limits are imposed on the office.
Inaugural holder Lord Glenavy
Formation 6 December 1922
Website .ie.oireachtascathaoirleach
Coat of arms of Ireland
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Republic of Ireland

Cathaoirleach (;[1] Irish for "chairperson"; plural: Cathaoirligh) is the title of the chair (or presiding officer) of Seanad Éireann, the sixty-member upper house of the Oireachtas, the legislature of Ireland. The current Cathaoirleach is Senator Paddy Burke.

Powers and functions

The Cathaoirleach is the sole judge of order and has a range of powers and functions namely:[2]

  • Calls on members to speak and all speeches must be addressed to the Chair.
  • Puts such questions to the House as are required, supervises Divisions and declares the results.
  • Has authority to suppress disorder, to enforce prompt obedience to Rulings and may order members to withdraw from the House or name them for suspension by the House itself for a period.
  • In the case of great disorder can suspend or adjourn the House.

The Cathaoirleach is also an ex-officio member of the Presidential Commission, the collective vice-presidency of Ireland.


The Cathaoirleach's deputy is the Leas-Chathaoirleach. The current Leas-Chathaoirleach is Denis O'Donovan.

List of office-holders

No. Name[3] Term of office Party
1. Lord Glenavy 6 December 1922 6 December 1928 Independent
2. Thomas Westropp Bennett 6 December 1928 19 May 1936[4] Cumann na nGaedheal
3. Seán Gibbons 27 April 1938[4] 8 September 1943 Fianna Fáil
4. Seán Goulding 8 September 1943 21 April 1948 Fianna Fáil
5. Timothy O'Donovan 21 April 1948 14 August 1951 Fine Gael
6. Liam Ó Buachalla (1st time) 14 August 1951 22 July 1954 Fianna Fáil
7. Patrick Baxter 22 July 1954 22 May 1957 Clann na Talmhan
Liam Ó Buachalla (2nd time) 22 May 1957 5 November 1969 Fianna Fáil
8. Michael Yeats 5 November 1969 3 January 1973 Fianna Fáil
9. Micheál Cranitch 3 January 1973 1 June 1973 Fianna Fáil
10. James Dooge 1 June 1973 27 October 1977 Fine Gael
11. Séamus Dolan 27 October 1977 8 October 1981 Fianna Fáil
12. Charles McDonald 8 October 1981 13 May 1982 Fine Gael
13. Tras Honan (1st time) 13 May 1982 23 February 1983 Fianna Fáil
14. Patrick J. Reynolds 23 February 1983 25 April 1987 Fine Gael
Tras Honan (2nd time) 25 April 1987 1 November 1989 Fianna Fáil
15. Seán Doherty 1 November 1989 23 January 1992 Fianna Fáil
16. Seán Fallon 23 January 1992 12 July 1995 Fianna Fáil
17. Liam Naughten 12 July 1995 16 November 1996 Fine Gael
18. Brian Mullooly (1st time) 16 November 1996 27 November 1996 Fianna Fáil
19. Liam T. Cosgrave 27 November 1996 17 September 1997 Fine Gael
Brian Mullooly (2nd time) 17 September 1997 12 September 2002 Fianna Fáil
20. Rory Kiely 12 September 2002 13 September 2007 Fianna Fáil
21. Pat Moylan 13 September 2007 25 May 2011 Fianna Fáil
22. Paddy Burke 25 May 2011 Incumbent Fine Gael

Other uses

The term Cathaoirleach is also used in a generic sense for chairs of various organisations and county boards and clubs of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

See also


  1. ^ For the pronunciation in Irish, see here.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b The final sitting of Seanad Éireann of the Irish Free State was held on 19 May 1936. The Seanad was abolished on 29 May 1936. The election for the new Seanad, set up in accordance with the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, was held on 28 March 1938, and the first sitting was held on 27 April 1938.

External links

  • Official website
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