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An Dáil
(The Lower House of Parliament)

The Dail (Lower House of Parliament) is composed at present of 166 members representing 41 constituencies. The Constitution requires the total membership of the Dail to be so set that the national average population per member will be between 20,000 and 30,000. No constituency may have less than 3 members. The constituencies must be revised at least once in every twelve years. In practise, constituencies are revised on the publication of the results of each census of population: An independent Commission draws up a revised scheme of constituencies.

The maximum life of the Dail is limited by the Constitution to 7 years but a limit of 5 years has been set by law. The Dail may be dissolved by the President on the advice of the Taoiseach at any time.
A general election must be held within thirty days after the dissolution of the Dail.

Every citizen of Ireland over 21 years of age who is not disqualified by the Constitution or by law is eligible to be elected to the Dail. A member of the Dail is referred to as Teachta Dala (TD).

Every citizen of Ireland and British citizen, over 18 years, whose name appears on the register of electors is entitled to vote. There are approximately 2.6 million registered electors entitled to vote at Dail elections.

A candidate may nominate himself/herself or be nominated by a Dail elector for the constituency. A deposit of £300 must be lodged in respect of each candidate. The deposit is refunded if the candidate withdraws, is elected or if the greatest number of votes credit to him/her exceeds one -quarter of the quota of votes necessary for election. A candidate may include party affiliation, he/she may describe himself/herself as "non-party" or leave the appropriate space blank.

A register of political parties is maintained by the Clerk of the Dail. In it the Clerk registers particulars of each party which applies for registration and which satisfies him/her that it is a genuine political party and is organised to contest elections.

The returning officer must rule on the validity of a nomination paper and may rule a nomination paper invalid if it is not properly made out or signed.

Each candidate at a Dail election is entitled to send one election letter free of postage charge to each elector in the constituency. Where two or more candidates of the same political party stand for election in a constituency, they are limited to one election letter under this arrangement. The cost of the facility is met by the Exchequer.Casual vacancies in the membership of the Dail are filled by bye-elections.

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