The government may establish cabinet committees to assist it in carrying out its responsibilities.
The Department of the Taoiseach is responsible for the management of these committees. Cabinet committees derive their authority from government.
The committees include two or more members of government. They may also include the Attorney General and ministers of state.
The cabinet committees reflect the government’s national priorities:
Cabinet committees are chaired by the Taoiseach. The secretary of each of the committees is an official of the Department of the Taoiseach. This is normally a second secretary or assistant secretary.
They are appointed by the secretary general to the government. They brief the Taoiseach on policy areas relevant to the work of that committee.
The secretary also chairs any senior officials’ group that is established to support the work of the cabinet committee. See membership of committees here.
The senior officials’ groups usually meet in advance of cabinet committee meetings but can also provide cross-departmental co-ordination on relevant issues not requiring formal consideration at a cabinet committee.
Cabinet committees refer substantive issues to government for approval except where a committee has been expressly mandated by the government to take a decision. All of these committees stand dissolved at the end of a government’s term in office.
Committees also stand dissolved on producing a final report to government, having discharged their remit.
Outside of the structure of government and cabinet committee meetings, interaction between the Department of the Taoiseach and the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and ministers of state assigned to the department can occur routinely at any time and is not confined to normal working hours and normal office arrangements.
These arrangements derive from the nature of the work of the department and the working style of office holders.