Front bench (Ireland)

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A front bench in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas of Ireland, refers to any organised group of party members who holds any degree of speaking power (derived from the party) on specific issues. The Teachtaí Dála (TDs) who are members of the Government of Ireland constitutes the government front bench, while the members of parties in declared opposition to the government constitute the opposition front bench.

Third parties (those who may not be in government or opposition) may only form front benches with the power to speak or be recognised by the Ceann Comhairle if such parties number at least seven TDs. In order to attain the right to speak in session, parties and independents can ally themselves into coalitions known as technical groups of at least 7 TDs. An analogous term in other Westminster-based systems is the cross bench (as opposed to the front bench or back bench).

Despite the frequent necessity for coalitions in front benches, each party retains its own front bench spokespersons analogous (but not exclusively analogous) to government departments. When a smaller party is participant in a coalition, its own party front bench is semi-subservient to the coalition's agreed-upon front bench roster.

List of front benches[edit]

Current front benches[edit]