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Activist Sinéad Burke has been appointed to the Council of State

Sindy Joyce, the first Traveller in Ireland to graduate with a PhD, has also been appointed to the Council.

Sinéad Burke
Sinéad Burke
Image: Marechal Aurore/ABACA via PA Images

ACTIVIST SINÉAD BURKE has been appointed by President Michael D Higgins to be a member of the Council of State. 

Sindy Joyce, the first Traveller in Ireland to graduate with a PhD, has also been appointed to the Council. 

The Irish Constitution sets out that the Council of State is for the purposes of aiding and counselling the President. In order to perform some of his duties, the President is required to consult with the Council.

Reacting to the news, Burke tweeted: “Incredibly honoured to have been asked by President Higgins to be one of his appointees for Ireland’s Council of State.

“I’m looking forward to learning from the Council and amplifying voices on issues of equality, access and education.”

Those also appointed to the Council today include:

  • Cara Augustenborg
  • Maurice Malone
  • Johnston McMaster
  • Mary Murphy
  • Seán Ó Cuirreáin

 What exactly is the Council of State?

Aside from the above, the Constitution also sets out in what circumstances the President must consult with the Council. These include when he wishes to convene a meeting of either or both of the Houses of the Oireachtas i.e. the Dáil and Seanad.

He must also consult with the council if he wants to communicate with the Dáil and Seanad by way of a message or address on “any matter of national or public importance” or if he wants to communicate with the nation.

Other Council responsibilities can be read here: 

The Council has three categories of members: ex-officio (those who are members by virtue of their office), former office holders, and the president’s nominees.

There is also a spot reserved for the former Presidents of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, the role that preceded that of the Taoiseach.

There are no surviving presidents of the council – the last was Éamon de Valera – and it has previously been proposed that this position be removed, though that hasn’t yet happened.

The Constitution sets out that members appointed by the President may resign at any time or be dismissed if the President so chooses. In the case of former office holders they are members if “able and willing”. There is no way of dismissing them.

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