County Waterford, Ireland
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The Dáil has 166 members called Teachta Dála (TDs), who are returned by one of the 41 constituencies. All TDs have both a national parliamentary and a local constituency role.
The main political parties in Ireland are Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, The Labour Party, The Progressive Democrats, The Socialist Party, Sinn Fin and The Green Party. Independent candidates, unaligned to any political party, can also be elected to the Dáil. In their parliamentary role, TDs play a part in legislative business in assessing the way in which the government runs the country. In their constituency role, they look after the general and individual interests of the constituents.
The Dáil sits 3 days a week, from 2.30pm on Tuesday to 4.45pm on Thursday. Monday is usually spent with the secretary going over business, while the work of specialist committees, on which many TDs sit, is carried out on Fridays and most evenings.
The work of a TD is extremely varied. A typical days work for a TD in Dáil Éireann includes researching and preparing speeches for debates on social, economic, financial and budgetary issues, drafting amendments to and examining proposals for new legislation, contributing to debates on Bills and other important matters, voting on issues in the House, attending Question Time, participating in the proceedings of any of 19 committees and making either oral or written presentations on behalf of constituents to Ministers or Government Departments.
In addition to primary work as a member of Dáil Éireann, TDs will often be members of local authorities, health boards and VECs. TDs will, therefore, divide their time between the needs of their constituency, where they maintain close links with local people, groups and organisations, and at meetings of Dáil Éireann and its many specialist committees.
TDs hold regular advice clinics throughout their constituencies, which enables constituents to meet them personally. Very often assistance may be required to help with a problem with a Government Department, local authority or health board. If necessary the TD will use the procedures of Dáil Éireann to have the matter discussed.
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