President: Michael D Higgins
Michael D Higgins, a veteran left-wing politician, poet and human rights activist was elected president in October 2011 and inaugurated in November.
He is a former Galway university lecturer and published poet who has dedicated his four-decade political career to championing Irish culture and left-wing causes worldwide. He is an Irish speaker.
He also is also one of Ireland's most instantly recognized politicians, in part because of his short stature and much-imitated high voice.
Mr Higgins has served as a member of both houses of parliament in the Labour Party interest at various times, and was minister of the arts in the 1990s.
The Irish president wields little power beyond the ability to refer potentially unconstitutional legislation to the Supreme Court, but has an important symbolic role in representing Ireland at the national and international level.
Prime Minister: Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny heads a coalition that ousted the previous Fianna Fail administration at early elections in February 2011.
Mr Kenny's centre-right Fine Gael won 76 seats and Labour 37 in the 166-member parliament.
The results reflected voter fury at the long-dominant Fianna Fail party, which was blamed for leading Ireland to the brink of bankruptcy.
The former governing party's collapse came three months after it agreed an EU-IMF bailout worth 85 billion euro, which many in the country saw as a humiliation.
Ireland's budget deficit reached an alarming 32% of gross domestic product after a state bailout of the country's banks, which had lent recklessly and fuelled an unsustainable property boom.
When Fine Gael and Labour agreed to work as coalition partners, they issued a joint document saying voters had chosen parties "to begin mending the pieces of a fractured society, a broken economy".
On taking office, Mr Kenny launched a programme of spending cuts and tax rises designed to cut the deficit to 3% by 2015. His programme was endorsed by the European Union, and received a further boost at home when voters backed the European Union Stabilisation Treaty at a referendum in the summer of 2012.
In February 2013, Ireland reached an agreement with the European Central Bank (ECB) to ease the 28bn euro bank debt burden arising from the nationalisation of the Anglo Irish Bank - a deal hailed by Mr Kenny as "an historic step" on the country's road to financial recovery. However, he warned that Ireland still had a long way to go to return to prosperity.
Born in 1951, Mr Kenny worked as a primary school teacher before succeeding his father as the parliamentary deputy for Mayo in 1975. He served on the New Ireland Forum and other groups geared to improving Irish-British relations in the 1980s, and was briefly tourism minister in the mid-1990s.
He won the leadership of Fine Gael in the wake of its poor performance at the 2002 elections, and led the party through a steady recovery as the fortunes of Fianna Fail faltered. He saw off a leadership challenge in 2010, brought on when Labour overtook Fine Gael in the opinion polls, before steering the party to its best-ever electoral showing at the 2011 elections.
Mr Kenny is married with three children. An Irish speaker like President Higgins, he took part in television debates in the language during the 2011 election campaign.
Though a practising Catholic, he backed moves in 2013 to introduce limited access to abortion for the first time in the history of Ireland, saying that the new legislation helped to clarify the law and reflected the mood of the Irish people.