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Assignment of Responsibilities under the
Public Service Management Act 1997




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The Role of the Attorney General's Office

The Attorney General is a constitutional office holder under Article 30 of the Constitution.  She/he is the adviser to the Government in matters of law and legal opinion.  Her/his office of lawyers and administrative staff assist her in the provision of advice to Government, Ministers of the Government and Government Departments, the drafting of legislation on instructions from Ministers and Government Departments and representing Ireland, the Attorney General and Government Departments in litigation. 

The Office is the principal law office of the State dealing with public law matters relating to how Ireland is governed and administered.  It deals with core issues of constitutional importance, about how the Constitution may be interpreted, applied and occasionally amended.  The Office provides advice to Government Departments on how laws are to be interpreted by those who must apply them and how they might be changed to reflect new domestic, European or international legal obligations or other circumstances.  When there is disagreement about the interpretation or application of laws by Ministers or Departments the Attorney General's Office advises on their correct interpretation or application, represents the State in any resulting litigation and also advises on, and drafts, any necessary, remedial legislation.

The range of work with which the Office deals reflects the entire scope of governmental activity in a modern democracy, from the details of planning, implementing and defending new rules in technical areas of industry or agriculture, through the arrangements for government services in education, healthcare, or justice, to significant questions of human rights, European integration and international relations.  Government lawyers may be dealing with anything from public procurement issues, transactions in relation to state owned property, intellectual property disputes, compliance with EU Rules, applications in respect of criminal assets to constitutional challenges or criminal law legislation.  The Office provides a professional service to its public service clients while at the same time ensuring its legal advice represents an independent assessment of the law on various matters raised.