Who works in the Debates Office?
The team that produces the Official Report of the Houses of the Oireachtas includes the Editor of Debates and Chief Reporter, three deputy editors, assistant editors, administrative staff and parliamentary reporters. The Editor manages the whole operation while each deputy editor takes charge of the report of the Dáil, Seanad or committees. Assistant editors check the report for accuracy and continuity while the administrative staff members provide support by logging committees and by checking, collating, formatting and publishing parliamentary debates and questions.
Parliamentary reporters, who make up the majority in the team, are the ones most likely to be seen dashing, pen in hand, from their desks to the Dáil and Seanad Chambers or committee rooms to take a log of who is saying what to whom. In the Dáil and Seanad Chambers, the reporters sit prominently at a table in the very centre where they are best placed to hear and see everything. When taking notes they must listen carefully not only to the speaker whose microphone is switched on but also to those Members who are making off-microphone contributions. They must even keep an eye on politicians’ body language to predict who is about to interrupt next. They often need to contact Members to verify quotations and statistics, for example, and they must ensure they have all the information they need before they dash back to their desks to transcribe the recording of the debate they have just heard.