Taoiseach Enda Kenny (centre) and  Fine Gael  Ministers (from left) James Reilly , Paschal Donohoe, Simon Coveney, Richard Bruton, Leo Varadkar, Frances Fitzgerald and Heather Humphreys arriving for the launch of the Fine Gael Manifesto  in Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

Caution replaces expansive brave new world offering put forward by party five years ago

Socially aware: Catherine Murphy, Stephen Donnelly and  Róisín Shortall of the Social Democrats. The party has unveiled its housing policy ahead of the election. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Party’s policy initiative advocates new department, minister with full cabinet status

Green agenda: At the Green Party manifesto launch in Dublin were (from left): party chairman Roderick O Gorman, leader Eamon Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Launch of manifesto includes €30bn strategy for renewable energy and ‘citizen trust fund’

Party leaders at the TV3/Newstalk debate last night. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Enda Kenny tried to remain presidential but maybe disengaged too much

Richard Boyd Barrett TD says that if politicians’ wages were the same as those they represent, it would give them “a real incentive to make the decisions”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Boyd Barrett says TDs should be on the same salaries as the people they represent

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Only one not to raise his voice. Photograph: The Irish Times

FF leader scores in section discussing health service while Kenny emerges unscathed

 Michael Healy Rae: “What I am saying to people in north Kerry is to give me a chance this time and judge me the next time.” File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

‘Two political hawks swoop in to pounce on unsuspecting prey of north Kerry’

With Danny Healy Rae focusing his efforts on this part of the county, the family political dynasty believes he might have an outside chance of springing a surprise. File photograph: PA Wire

There is no doubt his brother, sitting TD Michael Healy Rae, will do very well in #ge16

Fianna Fáil’s Charlie McConalogue (above) has 17 per cent support in the opinion poll in Donegal. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Party’s strong showing may mean Independent TD Thomas Pringle’s seat is vulnerable

Renua’s video highlights what it claims are a continuing relationship and contacts between Taoiseach Enda  Kenny and businessman and media owner Denis O’Brien. Photograph: Screengrab of  Renua video

Two-minute video from Lucinda Creighton’s party to stir up negative-campaigning debate

A garda outside the Regency Hotel in Dublin following the fatal shooting of David Byrne there last week.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Justice confirms second non-jury court to open on April 4th

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: wants to create 10,000 new public service jobs over five years. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Kenny’s recruitment plan for health, education and Garda may be over-reaching

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the abolition of USC in its entirety would be ‘unfair and reckless’.    Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

Doherty says party would remove 277,000 from the charge but leave it in place for other workers

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. Photograph: Collins

Frances Fitzgerald confirms second Special Criminal Court will open on April 4th

 Fianna Fáil candidate Mary Hanafin canvasses resident Frank McGee  in the Park area of Cabinteely, in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Unlike five years ago, Fianna Fáil canvassers getting polite reception in Dublin

Labour leader Joan Burton  with Alan Kelly and Brendan Howlin TD during the formal launch of the Labour party general election campaign at the Bord Gais Theatre, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish TImes

‘It’s a new kind of F word, the Fiscal Space,’ Burton says as she vows not to use term

What the voters really want is for politicians to find all the square pegs they can get their hands on and jam them into round holes. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Inside Politics: There are mixed messages even among Government party supporters

Choices: election posters outside Government Buildings in Dublin this week. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Whichcandidate.ie intended to help voters make informed voting decision

 Criticising Labour’s record in government, Ruth Coppinger said the party’s 2011 ‘Tesco ad is embedded in the minds of ordinary people’.

Extent of public’s radicalisation has been underestimated, says TD

 Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: “Fine Gael is not taking into account pay rises and social welfare.” File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Council’s €3.2bn ‘fiscal space’ figure amounts to about quarter of that projected by Fine Gael

Fianna Fail criticises coalition on health; Adams says people seeking change should vote Sinn Fein

Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Cllr Catherine Ardagh at a press conference following the announcement of Election 2016. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Party leaders, Ministers and TDs address media as election campaigns begin in earnest

Election 2016: Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, Labour leader Joan Burton, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Renua leader Lucinda Creighton and Ruth Coppinger of the Anti-Austerity Alliance.

Coalition hopes to be returned as FF says it could be biggest party after February 26th poll

 Fianna Fáil director of elections Billy Kelleher TD (left) and party  leader Micheál Martin TD during the launch of Fianna Fáil’s general election campaign in Dublin on Wednesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

Party leader says FF has ‘far stronger social conscience’ than any of its rivals

 Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny who has managed to guide his party through five years of government to come out of the 31st Dáil with almost the same level of support it had going in. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Party profile: Fine Gael has overcome early setbacks to start the campaign in robust health

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Party profile: Almost wiped out in 2011 securing State funding is a must for the party’s long-term recovery

 New Taoiseach Enda Kenny  is congratulated by colleagues as he leaves Leinster House to drive to Áras an Uachtaráin to meet with President Mary McAleese. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

The Coalition did well on the economy, but was not so strong on health and housing

The work of predicting elections is ‘as ridiculous as expecting Galway to win the Liam McCarthy every year even though it’s nearly 30 years since they last did it’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Inside Politics : Journalists and their predictions informed by many political variables

Generation Selfie: Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Martina Anderson (front left) Lynn Boylan, Mary Lou McDonald. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty

Growth in social media means this general election campaign will be fought in novel ways

Empty seats . . . but the Oireachtas has been busy, passing 253 Acts during this Government’s five-year term. Photograph: Alan Betson

Coalition has passed the most Acts of any government since the foundation of the State

A senior Labour source said the decision on an election date was the prerogative of the Taoiseach. Photograph: The Irish Times

Key staff in FG and FF move to campaign headquarters in anticipation of poll date

A Department of the Environment spokesman said it would not accept the suggestion that there are massive inaccuracies in the register. Photograph: Getty Images

Review of roll and census by expert suggests figure overstated by almost 500,000 people

Fianna Fáil spokesman on mental health Colm Keaveney said the Government and the responsible Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch, had failed in promise to ring fence an additional €37 million per annum for services.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

Claim coalition has raided mental health budgets to top up shortfalls elsewhere

Founder and producer of the Other Voices live music series, Philip King. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

‘You can’t dance to the metric – you can’t evaluate the thing that is priceless’

The technology company Facebook filed two returns for lobbying activity for the last three months of 2015

Communicorp lobbied for financial support for output, new register shows

Labour’s Joanna Tuffy: I am relatively happy . . . I feel momentum going towards us. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Red C poll suggests enough voters do not want to risk change in government

Micheál Martin delivered his best stump speech since become leader five years ago, more memorable for its tone than its content.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil has a lot of ground to make up, but it won’t all be done in this election

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin at the party’s ardfheis, at Citywest in Dublin: “There will be no auction politics, no uncommitted promises.” Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Micheál Martin vows that Fianna Fáil will not engage in ‘auction politics’ during campaign

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan: “We are in a row with RTÉ. Like the Government, their criteria for inclusion are rooted in the past.” File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Former minister says only Green Party would do work to make Paris Agreement reality

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin arrives at the party’s annual ard fheis at Citywest in Dublin. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Prof Tim Bale says party is ‘off life support’ and that election after 2016 will be crucial

“The takeaway message from its negative poster this week might be that it has ceded control of the narrative to Fine Gael.”  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

The party has struggled to articulate a clear message or project itself in a way which those outside its base can identify

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin:  “We have 70 candidates contesting the election, by far the largest list of any Opposition party.” Photograph: Collins

Fianna Fáil dismisses any coalition arrangement with either Fine Gael or Sinn Féin

Gerry Adams: If elected to government, Sinn Féin would abolish the property tax in its entirety. Photograph: The Irish Times

Party the largest in capital at local government level and has ‘delivered for electorate’

“The base of Fianna Fáil and very large sections of Fianna Fáil remain very republican” - Gerry Adams. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

SF leader pays tribute to Fianna Fáil’s ‘republican’ base

A file image from 2007 of then Fianna Fail director of elections PJ Mara at an election press conference in Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller/The  Irish Times

Part of the reason Mara was effective was his character traits made him well suited to role

Tánaiste Joan Burton: “These comments recognise that Ireland has achieved a remarkable turnaround.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Report praised Ireland’s economic rebound as ‘remarkably strong’, says Burton

Mary Lou McDonald: “We are fortunate that we have a lot of talented and able people. There will be other hats in the ring. Ultimately it is for the membership of Sinn Féin to make [the leadership] call.” Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Dublin Central TD says party would be ‘pragmatic and sensible’ if in government

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny  at the launch of Pathways to Work 2016-2020 at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Kenny and Burton launch next phase of Pathways to Work employment scheme

 Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin at the launch of his party’s election advertising campaign which has been described as a negative effort. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

Fine Gael, PDs, Labour and Fianna Fáil all have experience from elections past

Floods surround a house in the Golden Island area of Athlone. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Coalition wants new industry approach to homes with non-permanent barriers

Michael Horan and Kevin Thompson, from the representative body, Insurance Ireland, at Government Buildings on Tuesday. Photograph: Eric Luke

Industry claims 86% cover in place where there are fixed flood defences

Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside Leinster House yesterday with (from left) Senator Catherine Noone and Ministers Paschal Donohoe,  Frances Fitzgerald and Simon Harris. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Many Government promises unfulfilled despite its claimed 93% success rate

L-R: John Leahy (Renua), Eoin O’Broin (Sinn Fein), Jack Chambers (Fianna Fail). Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

With a general election looming, a new cohort of politicians are hoping for success in 2016. Harry McGee points to five expected d(...)

A study by accountants KPMG has estimated Renua Ireland’s core policy of a 23 per cent flat tax rate would give a boost to the Exchequer worth almost € 5 billions per annum.

KPMG research does not include correcting elements included in the Renua policy

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin  was depicted in the advert as having just married Gerry Adams. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Sinn Féin says the advert, which Labour says was leaked, ‘devalues’ marriage equality

A file photograph of a protest in Dublin calling for an end to the direct provision system. Photograph: David Sleator.

Ó Ríordáin says increase is ‘first step’ in implementing taskforce recommendations

 Lucinda Creighton and her Renua party will launch its manifesto which includes five key principles. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Document will also propose abolition of tax shelters and tax cuts for financing childcare

Taoiseach to propose a change in standing orders to allow the Ceann Comhairle to be elected by secret ballot

Flooding at Springfield, Co Clare: Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Simon Coveney on a fact-finding mission. Photograph: Gareth Williams/Press 22

Cabinet to increase emergency budget as 260 homes evacuated and 130 others marooned

Victorious: Enda Kenny leaves for Áras an Uachtaráin after becoming Taoiseach in 2011. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The big story of the next Dáil will be the battle between Fianna Fáíl and Sinn Féin

Former taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern: in 2001, a Fianna Fáil-led government tried to ban opinion polls in the last week of an election. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Opinion polls may be unreliable but that does not stop us all from relying on them

Suggested projects to ease flooding include dredging and engineering works. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Taoiseach to meet State agencies to discuss protection of 66 towns along river

The Government considers large-scale deployment of the Defence Forces, Coast Guard and Civil Defence. Photograph: Eric Luke

Simon Harris says saving homes should ‘trump’ EU rules on protecting wildlife

Ministers Heather Humphreys and Simon Harris with the Taoiseach and Mayor Tom Farrell on their way to Carrick O’Brien in Athlone. Photograph: Alan Betson

Enda Kenny had been criticised for failing to engage with those affected by storms

Tánaiste Joan Burton (right) and Minister of State Ann Phelan in the water after their boat capsized in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny as they went to visit the flooded home of Shem Caulfield  (left). Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

Weather warning issued as concern grows in Athlone where Shannon has risen 7cm

Taoiseach Enda Kenny visits flooded parts of Athlone, Co Westmeath, on Thursday afternoon on a trailer drawn by a tractor. Photograph: Fergal O’Brien/Twitter

Taoiseach and Ministers take helicopter survey of extensive flooding across State

Dole queues: “We expect the Government will sign off on a new Pathways to Work strategy in mid-January,” said Enda Kenny. “We’ll take another 50,000-70,000 people out by 2020 and into the world of work.”

Original 2018 target to cut jobless rate to 6 per cent ‘unrealistic’, says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has refused to repeat his 2011 pledge to end the trolley crisis. Photograph: Peter Cavanagh Photography

Enda Kenny says his focus is on economic progress and creating employment

Joan Burton and  Enda Kenny: in agreement on  right-to-die   issue. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach says change would probably require referendum and is not on agenda

Denis O’Brien: his company Newstalk holds the current licence . Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Licence held by Denis O’Brien up for renewal but BAI got no other expressions of interest

Returning officers for elections have been instructed to treat as a spoilt vote any ballot paper that has a sequence of numbers that does not begin with a ‘1’ or ‘one’. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Judges struck down result of 2014 local elections in Listowel over numbering

Enda Kenny (in Brussels): “It is an entirely appropriate time to visit peacekeeping troops in view of the . . . difficulties and the challenges they face.” Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Enda Kenny will visit Golan Heights on the Syrian-Israeli border as part of short tour

Environmental groups also argue the use of fracked gas or oil also contributes greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at a time when the Paris Agreement has ratified a move towards global carbon neutrality by the end of the century. File photograph: Michael Okoniewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images

TD will present proposals to completely ban hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in State

Gas, oil and coal comprise 90% of our energy needs. Photograph: Getty Images

Ambitious design for renewable energy but not enough detail on how it can be achieved

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar (centre) with Tony O’Brien of the HSE and Minister of State  Kathleen Lynch at yesterday’s launch of the HSE’s national service plan for 2016. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Leo Varadkar doing ‘excellent job’ in ‘very difficult’ portfolio, says Enda Kenny

Moneypoint generating station which is to close in 2025: an alternative should be decided by 2020. Photograph: Neil Warner

Energy policy in new White Paper builds on ambition of Paris agreement, says Minister

David Cameron and  Enda Kenny  at 10 Downing Street in November. File Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Taoiseach stresses need to give prime minister ‘saleable package’ for voters to avoid ‘Brexit’

A general view of the Bord na Mona Edenderry peat powered power station in Co Offaly. The Government’s White Paper on Energy has called for Ireland to cease its use of  fossil fuels by the end of the century.   Photograph: PA

More solar farms and bioenergy but no decision on nuclear power or banning fracking

EPA director general  Laura Burke:    “We must implement appropriate measures across all of society and the economy to break the link between prosperity and pollution.”  Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Warning that Ireland’s strong economic recovery is influencing emissions

Solar to form part of renewables options range in Coalition White Paper on energy

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly: “The next generation would not forgive us if this deal was not done.”  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for the Environment says he is proud of part he played in reaching agreement

Agriculture comprises an eighth of gross domestic product (GDP) in the State, but  emissions from the sector comprise a third of total emissions. The problem is methane emitted by ruminant animals. File photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Move to carbon neutrality will hit home in every sector emitting greenhouse gases

French foreign affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, president-designate of COP21,  on a giant screen as he speaks at the final session at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 12th, 2015. Photograph: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

Reaction broadly positive as final agreement delayed after last-minute wrangling

 Banners with messages related to global warming attached to an Eiffel Tower made of bistro chairs at the venue of the UN conference on climate change in Le Bourget, near Paris. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

‘Rich’ Ireland has vowed to continuously cut emissions from the agricultural sector

Residents shoring up the flood defences on the River Shannon in Athlone, Co Westmeath. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

COP21 agreement set to limit temperature increases to ‘well below 2 degrees’

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly is attending the COP21 climate change summit in Paris. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

COP21: Minister says argument that beef sector should be wound down is ‘crazy’

Cacique Raoni Metuktire, chief of the Kayapo tribe, speaks to a translator at the climate change summit in Paris. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

New draft of agreement pares outstanding disputed issues down from 361 to 50

President of the Raoni Institute  Cacique Raoni Metuktire with a translator at the climate conference yesterday. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

United States joins ‘high ambition’ EU and developing countries coalition at climate talks

A French customs officer photographs one of the banners brought by Irish environmental activists to the UN climate conference. Photograph: William Hederman

Bus carrying 35 campaigners stopped by French police for three hours in Cherbourg

French Foreign affairs minister and acting president of the COP21, Laurent Fabius. Photograph: EPA/Ian Langsdon

New draft text circulated this evening to delegates

Enda Kenny delivers a speech during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris. Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

Environmentalists accused Government of seeking free pass for farming sector

Aerial images of flooding in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo. Photograph: Jamie Martin.

Local authorities asked to assess damage to inform Cabinet memo asking for money

French president Francois Hollande during a decorations awarding ceremony in Paris to personalities committed to the fight against global warming. Photograph: AFP Photo

Major issues far from being reconciled with 24 hours to go before deadline

The French presidency under foreign minister Laurent Fabius has won widespread praise for its handling of the negotiations in Paris. Photograph: Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images

New alliance between European Union and 79 vulnerable nations adds to optimism

People demonstrate during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 8th, 2015. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

Targets, transparency and ‘ratcheting-up mechanism’ at issue as deadline looms

A woman takes a picture of a globe at  COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Photograph: AP Photo/Christophe Ena

Global carbon release may be lower in 2015, according to study by British university

Minister for Communications and Energy Alex White is to bring a white paper on energy policy to Cabinet Tuesday. Photograph: Alan Betson

Alex White to bring White Paper on energy policy to Cabinet Tuesday

 Minister for the Environment  Alan Kelly says a binding agreement on 1.5 degree target would be very difficult to achieve politically. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Minister says he is hopeful for a 1.5 degree target but politically it will be hard to achieve

UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon delivers a speech   at the World Climate Change Conference: he said  that he was confident an ambitious agreement could be reached. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/AFP/Getty Images

Pope, UN secretary general call for urgent action and global solidarity in face of crisis

New York artist Kate McNeely with her work The Climate Ribbon at the alternative COP21 at Montreuil in Paris.

‘Do not consider this a mock trial but a sneak preview of Exxon future,’ an environmental ist tells the crowd

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