Online Petition > Introduction to Petitions
PLEASE NOTE

The Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions, which was the committee charged with receiving and considering petitions from the public, ceased to exist on the dissolution of the Dáil. The facility for submitting a petition to the Committee is therefore no longer available. The question of whether, and if so how, petitions will be considered in the future is a matter for the new Dáil and Seanad.

Introduction to Petitions

The establishment of the petitions system was to enable greater citizen interaction with the parliamentary system on matters of general public concern or interest. Politicians could not themselves submit petitions but otherwise there were no restrictions on who could submit a petition. Only one signature was needed to submit a petition.


The Joint sub-Committee on Public Petitions

The Joint sub-Committee on Public Petitions ('the Committee') was a Parliamentary Committee consisting of TDs and Senators. It was an influential new committee which was given the ambitious task of charting a course for a petitions system in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

This parliamentary petitions system presented an important new avenue for individuals to participate in the democratic process. For the first time, through the petitions process, members of the public were able to take their policy concerns directly to the heart of Parliament and to influence the parliamentary agenda.


Consideration of Petitions by the Committee

The Committee in considering a petition could invite a petitioner to appear before it to speak on the subject matter of the petition. It could also seek oral or written evidence from the relevant Government Department, as well as other appropriate bodies or stakeholders.

The Committee, in considering a petition could also:

  • refer the petition to any other Committee with a request for further consideration and report back to the Committee;


  • refer the petition to the Ombudsman, another Ombudsman or a regulatory public body or a body established for the purpose of redress.

Following consideration of any oral and/or written evidence received, the Committee could make a decision on what further action it wished to take. This action included reporting to the Dáil/Seanad with recommendations, including a request that the report be debated by the Dáil/Seanad.

If the Committee considered that no further action was required the petition would be closed. The petitioner was notified of the Committee’s consideration of the matter and its final decision.


Admissibility of Petitions

Petitions had to be addressed to the Houses of the Oireachtas; be on a matter of general public concern or interest in relation to the legislative powers of the Houses of the Oireachtas or be an issue of public policy..

A petition was admissible if it:

  • related to matters on which the Houses of the Oireachtas have the power to act;


  • complied with Standing Orders and is in proper form;


  • was not sub-judice, i.e. did not relate to a case where court proceedings had been initiated and which was to be heard before a jury or was then being heard before a jury;


  • did not contain the name or names of individuals;


  • did not contain language which is offensive or defamatory;


  • was not the same as, or was not in substantially similar terms to, a petition brought by or on behalf of the same person, body corporate or unincorporated association during the lifetime of that Dáil/Seanad and which was closed by agreement of the Committee;


  • was not frivolous, vexatious or otherwise does not constitute an abuse of the petitions system;


  • did not require the Committee to consider an individual complaint which has been the subject of a decision by the Ombudsman, by another Ombudsman, or by a regulatory public body or a body established for the purpose of redress.

Petitioners had to demonstrate that they had already taken steps to resolve the issue raised in their petition, for example, through raising it with the Ombudsman, public bodies, or directly with the relevant Government Department.

Submitting a petition

PLEASE NOTE

The Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions, which was the committee charged with receiving and considering petitions from the public, ceased to exist on the dissolution of the Dáil. The facility for submitting a petition to the Committee is therefore no longer available. The question of whether, and if so how, petitions will be considered in the future is a matter for the new Dáil and Seanad.

Contact details

Further information and advice on the petitions process to the Houses of the Oireachtas can be obtained from:

Ronan Lenihan
Clerk to the Joint sub-Committee on Public Petitions
Houses of the Oireachtas
Leinster House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2
Petitions Tel: 01-6184216
E-mail: submitapetition@oireachtas.ie