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Functions, powers and duties

The Attorney General is legal adviser to the Government and attends Government meetings. The Attorney General advises the Government on the constitutional and legal issues which arise prior to or at Government meetings, including whether proposed legislation complies with the provisions of the Constitution, acts and treaties of the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights or other international treaties to which Ireland has acceded. The Attorney General also advises as to whether the State can ratify international treaties and conventions. The Attorney General represents the State in legal proceedings.

The Attorney General is legal adviser to each Government Department and certain public bodies. The Attorney General is the representative of the public in all legal proceedings for the enforcement of law and the assertion or protection of public rights. The Attorney General defends the constitutionality of Bills referred to the Supreme Court under Article 26 of the Constitution. The Attorney General is an ex officio member of the Council of State which the President of Ireland can consult in relation to his exercise and performance of certain powers and functions under the Constitution. The Attorney General also has functions in respect of the Law Reform Commission under the Law Reform Commission Act 1975, in respect of legislative programming as a member of the Legislation Committee which is chaired by the Government Chief Whip. The Attorney General also has a function under the Coroners Act 1962 to direct a coroner to hold an inquest where he considers that the circumstances of a person's death make the holding of an inquest advisable. The Attorney General also has some limited statutory functions, e.g. the Geneva Conventions Act 1962.

The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and the Chief State Solicitor's Office are both constituent parts of the Attorney General's Office. Accordingly, the principal legal functions carried out by the Office as a whole are the provision of legal advice (Advisory Counsel), legislative drafting (Parliamentary Counsel), the provision of litigation, conveyancing and other transactional services (Chief State Solicitor's Office).