Kieran Coughlan


Kieran Coughlan, spent 40 years in the Houses of the Oireachtas administration in various roles, from 1973 -2013, 23 of which were at the most senior level as Clerk of the Dail and Secretary General of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service and Chief Executive to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

He acquired first-hand experience of the parliament and an indepth knowledge and understanding of the formal legislative and informal   political environment  in  various roles and is the only person to date who  occupied at various times all four statutory Clerk and clerk assistant positions of the Dail and Seanad.  He acquired an expertise in managing the political environment at the coal face in Dail Éireann while retaining respect from all sides in the Dail (e.g. tributes paid on his retirement (Dail debates 17th July 2013). He served on the secretariat to the New Ireland Forum in 1984 and was instrumental at the administrative level in facilitating the establishment and acted as Joint Secretary with his counterpart in the Northern Ireland Assembly, to the North –South Parliamentary Association established under the Good Friday Agreement.

He has extensive administrative experience as Secretary General since 1990 and was a proponent of change management and modernisation under the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission established in 2004, which gave financial autonomy to parliamentary services.  He appeared as Accounting Officer before the Dail Public Accounts Committee on 11 occasions, in addition to four attendances as a witness at the DIRT Inquiry in respect of its institutional reform module and various other private hearings including  before the All-Party Committee on the Constitution.

 He served in various Commissions: Ethics in Public Office Commission (subsequently   Standards in Public Office), Referendum Commission and Constituency Revision Commission from 1990 to 2013 and the Commission on Electronic Voting 2005 and was appointed to the statutory Heritage Council in June 2016.

He has had a number of articles published since retirement as outlined below.


Presentation Brother's College, Cork and University College Cork (B. A, (1971) H.D.E. (1972); M.COMM (Government and Public Policy) (2016).


Publications: Various Dail Reports including the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and co-author Chapter:  Advising and Serving the Houses: from Clerk to Chief Executive The Houses of the Oireachtas: Parliament in Ireland [2011, MacCarthaigh and Manning, IPA].


                ‘Creditability of political establishment called into question re appointment process of

                       senior civil servant’, Sunday Independent 21st September, 2014.

               ‘Choosing a Ceann Comhairle always has political implications in a divided Dáil’, Irish

                       Independent, 10th March,2016.

               ‘Dáil vote reform may be unconstitutional’, Irish Times, 26th September,2016.



Kieran Coughlan

Contact Details:


Adjunct Professor



Department of Government & Politics

Roinn Léann an Rialtais agus na Polaitíochta

2nd Floor, Block B, O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork, Republic of Ireland,