In the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election, Sinn Féin increased their vote share from 27.9% to 29.0% and became (for the first time) the largest party, amidst a split in the unionist vote between DUP, UUP, and TUV (in total there are still more unionist than nationalist votes). In the 2020 Irish general election, Sinn Féin got the highest share of the vote (24.5%) and the second-highest share of the seats. In opinion polls for the next Irish general election, Sinn Féin is currently (May 2022) polling at 34%, a 13-percentage-point lead over the number two, raising speculation that a future Taoiseach will be from Sinn Féin as well.

Political issues aside (Stormont power-sharing partner may not like the idea), would it be legally possible for the same person to be both Taoiseach in Dublin and First Minister in Stormont?

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    There has been political dispute over "double-jobbing", which has focused on a ban on people being both members of the Assembly and Westminster parliament. I can't find if there's an equivalent ban on being in both the Northern Ireland Assembly and Irish parliament.
    – Stuart F
    May 9, 2022 at 9:58
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    Isn't this a little like asking if someone can be President/Prime Minister of two countries at the same time? I imagine the answer would be the same for any two countries, even if they're as closely linked as the two Irelands. Or really, any two political offices even in the same country, not necessarily just heads of state. You can't be a Governor of two different states in the US, for example. Or Mayor + Senator in the same state, etc. May 10, 2022 at 17:31
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    @DarrelHoffman The unique aspect here is that the same party may end up providing the prime minister in both countries, and that party wants both countries to be one. That makes it different from an arbitrary "can one person rule two countries".
    – gerrit
    May 10, 2022 at 20:14

1 Answer 1


No, under Section 19A of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, as amended by the Disqualifications Act 2000 and the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006, which states that "No person may be nominated to hold the office of First Minister [...] if he is the holder of a disqualifying office". 'Disqualifying office' is defined in paragraph 4 of that section as including a "Minister of the Government of Ireland", which includes the Taoiseach.

Paragraph 2 of the section covers the situation whereby a First Minister were to become the Taoiseach:

A Minister or junior Minister ceases to hold that office on becoming the holder of a disqualifying office.

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    @Bobson the act addresses this case - see update!
    – CDJB
    May 9, 2022 at 18:32
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    A semi-interesting follow up would be the other angle: does the Dublin side have a similar rule, and what jobs would count there? E.g. can you be a minister of the government of Ireland, while at the same time holding some minor post in UK? (I know it's a different question, though, just thinking out loud.)
    – ilkkachu
    May 11, 2022 at 8:04
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    What I'm seeing here is that 1) The Taoiseach cannot be nominated for First Minister and 2) A First Minister loses their job upon becoming Taoiseach. As a programmer, this I immediately see the edgecase: What if a person is nominated for First Minister, and then becomes Taoiseach before being inaugurated (or whatever the term is) as First Minister? Technically, condition 1 no longer applies (they were already nominated) and the situation 2 did not occur (they weren't First Minister at the moment they became the holder of the disqualifying office).
    – AI0867
    May 11, 2022 at 11:57
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    As a fellow programmer @AI0867 think you're overlooking the main difference between a computer program and legal interpretation - the latter can use human judgement. The intent behind the law is clear and I doubt the edge case would be accepted as an exception by either the High Court in Belfast or the UK Supreme Court.
    – ma499
    May 11, 2022 at 21:13
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    @ma499 I'm quite aware of the differences, I just enjoy poking holes in 'programs' or specifications written by non-programmers, even when the holes are irrelevant.
    – AI0867
    May 12, 2022 at 11:59

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