To Ourselves, Article Fourteen

1.    In the event of the absence of the President, or his temporary incapacity, or his permanent incapacity established as provided by section 3 of Article 12 hereof, or in the event of his death, resignation, removal from office, or failure to exercise and perform the powers and functions of his office or any of them, or at any time at which the office of President may be vacant, the powers and functions conferred on the President by or under this Constitution shall be exercised and performed by a Commission constituted as provided in section 2 of this Article.

2.    1° The Commission shall consist of the following persons, namely, the Chief Justice, the Chairman of Dáil Éireann (An Ceann Comhairle), and the Chairman of Seanad Éireann.

2° The President of the High Court shall act as a member of the Commission in the place of the Chief Justice on any occasion on which the office of Chief Justice is vacant or on which the Chief Justice is unable to act.

3° The Deputy Chairman of Dáil Éireann shall act as a member of the Commission in the place of the Chairman of Dáil Éireann on any occasion on which the office of Chairman of Dáil Éireann is vacant or on which the said Chairman is unable to act.

4° The Deputy Chairman of Seanad Éireann shall act as a member of the Commission in the place of the Chairman of Seanad Éireann on any occasion on which the office of Chairman of Seanad Éireann is vacant or on which the said Chairman is unable to act.

3.    The Commission may act by any two of their number and may act notwithstanding a vacancy in their membership.

4.    The Council of State may by a majority of its members make such provision as to them may seem meet for the exercise and performance of the powers and functions conferred on the President by or under this Constitution in any contingency which is not provided for by the foregoing provisions of this Article.

5.    1° The provisions of this Constitution which relate to the exercise and performance by the President of the powers and functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution shall subject to the subsequent provisions of this section apply to the exercise and performance of the said powers and functions under this Article.

2° In the event of the failure of the President to exercise or perform any power or function which the President is by or under this Constitution required to exercise or perform within a specified time, the said power or function shall be exercised or performed under this Article, as soon as may be after the expiration of the time so specified.

Ireland has no Vice-President. The position lacks the real importance to require one. The government doesn’t stop because the first citizen vacates the position (unlike, say, the United States which has a well defined succession).

Rather than a VP, we have the Presidential Commission. Should the Presidency ever be vacated, whether it’s due to resignation, impeachment, death or just whenever the President cannot perform his/her duties, the Commission carries out the responsibilities of the position.

The Commission contains the speakers of the Dail, Seanad and the Chief Justice, providing a mix of legislative and judicial members. Due to the nature of Presidential elections, the Commission can only ever hold its power for a maximum of 60 days. With a majority needed for any decision, the Commission is a decent stand in for an absent executive.

That does it for the Presidency section, though it’s not the last time the constitution will refer to the position. Next up is the Dail.

Note: While the Council of State, that body of current and former high ranking politicians who advise the President occasionally, is referred to on a number of occasional over the past few articles, I’ve refrained from discussing it until its own specific articles (Thirty One and Thirty Two).

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