The number of Dáil seats has been cut from 166 to 158 and the number of constituencies from 43 to 40. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Boundary changes make 2016 election result even more difficult to call than usual

Labour decline means Coalition faces uphill battle to secure second term

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton. File photograph: Dave Meehan

Fianna Fáil’s lack of Dublin support means it will struggle to take seats in the capital

Joan Burton: secured a supplementary estimate of €299 million so the Christmas bonus can be paid. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Lures include property tax frozen until 2019 regardless of sector price changes

Deadline for getting on amended version of draft register of electors is Wednesday

Billy Kelleher: Fianna Fail  will  not go into coalition with Fine Gael or Sinn Féin and will not support a Fine Gael-led minority government from the outside. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

If the Coalition fails to hit the 70-seat mark the situation could get very messy

Pierre Vimont said the Middle East had had to cope with a refugee crisis long before the current conflict in Syria. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Co-ordinated European action now imperative to deal with the issue, advises envoy

“Following recent violence and reports on the activity of paramilitary groups, Fianna Fáil called for the reintroduction of a paramilitary monitoring commission and the establishment of a properly resourced cross-Border agency to deal with organised crime. Both of these suggestions have been accepted and we welcome this,” said Brendan Smith, Fianna Fáil spokesman on Border Region Development. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Stormont’s A Fresh Start agreement must not be another false start, says Fianna Fáil

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: “The research and the work done by the ESRI and others clearly indicates that the model that was studied is not affordable now or ever because of the very large premiums that would be imposed on families or the subsided that the exchequer would have to foot the bill for if we were to go down that route.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Leo Varadkar tells Cabinet scheme would increase health costs by €650m a year

 Peter Barry, then minister for foreign affairs,  in his office at Iveagh House in 1985. Photograph: Jack McManus

FitzGerald’s drive and relationshsip with Thatcher key to success, recalls Peter Barry

 Taoiseach Dr Gatret FtizGerald and the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher at the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Hillsborough Castle, Co Down. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Thirty years ago on Sunday November 15th, FitzGerald and Thatcher sealed deal at a press conference at which everything was sweetn(...)

Pat Carey at the Dublin City Count Centre at the RDS on during ther 2011 General Election. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Carey’s reputation casually shredded without having been informed of complaint

IBRC inquiry: The Government has been told that even if Mr Justice Brian Cregan is granted the extra legal powers he believes are required to pursue the inquiry, he will need another judge to assist him. Photograph: The Irish Times

Mr Justice Brian Cregan says duration of inquiry up to eight years without appointment

The four key areas identified by British prime minister David Cameron as requiring EU reform were protection of the single market, boosting competitiveness, exempting Britain from even closer union, and restricting the rights of EU migrants to work-related benefits such as tax credits. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Seeking to restrict EU migrants’ rights to work-linked benefits seen as problematic

Very careful monitoring is needed  to ensure that a massive gap between tax and spending doesn’t suddenly open up,  once again requiring another bout of savage retrenchment measures. Above, Taoiseach, Enda Kenny Photograph:  Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Gearing up to repeat the mistakes of the past

The Standards in Public Office Commission has issued a damning report into the behaviour of Longford County Council chief executive Tim Caffrey. Photograph: Willie Farrell

Tim Caffrey broke ethics rules when he failed to disclose interest in property, Commission finds

Fianna Fáil’s Colm Keaveney’s query came in the wake of court proceedings taken by Denis O’Brien claiming that public relations company Red Flag had compiled a false and defamatory dossier about him. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Oireachtas issues statement detailing IT security systems used to protect material

A diesel laundering plant uncovered by the Revenue and Garda earlier this year in Co Monaghan

Minister for Foreign Affairs says tackling cross-Border crime in any new pact is vital

“In order to survive Labour TDs will have to get enough first preference votes to keep their heads above water for long enough to benefit from transfers.”

There is a long tradition going back almost half a century of transfers between Fine Gael and Labour.

Former taoiseach Charles Haughey takes up his position as Chairman of the National Gallery of Ireland foundation in 1996. From the exhibition of Eamon Farrell’s work “Charles Haughey: power, politics and public image” at the Gallery of Photography.

Long-time press photographer captured some of most revealing images of politician

The majority of delegates at a Fianna Fáil selection convention at the Longford Arms Hotel objected strongly on Thursday night when a woman was selected as the party’s candidate in the forthcoming general election at the direction of party headquarters. Image: Google Streetview

Delegates unhappy after woman selected to run in election at request of party chiefs

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald says delay of 20 months is considerable. Photograph: Eric Luke

Frances Fitzgerald concerned at backlog of terrorist cases, with delay of nearly two years

 Fianna Fáil spokesman on social protection Willie O’Dea. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Party proposes additional spending as part of reform plan for social welfare system

 Minister of State at the Department of Finance Simon Harris has announced a new tendering competition for public sector legal services.  File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Simon Harris wants to make it easier for smaller law firms to apply for public work

Pact with other anti-water campaigners makes perfect sense for Sinn Féin. Photograph: The Irish Times

Left-leaning arrangement could translate into extra seats for party via transfers

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Frances Fitzgerald to establish second Special Criminal Court due to case delays

Tom Parlon, director general of the Construction Industry Federation. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Construction federation backs Alan Kelly and criticises bank’s deposit regulations

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Micheál Martin’s response has put paid once and for all to talk of coalition

Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy: “Irish Water should not be able to paint this as 830,000 people or 55 per cent having paid. That figure ignores all of those who paid the first bill but haven’t paid the second bill.”  Photograph: Gareth Chaney /Collins Agency

Paul Murphy says figures released represented ‘a masterclass in spin and misdirection’

In spite of the aggressive anti-water charges campaign, Irish Water has held to the view that about 80 per cent of those liable to pay the charge would ultimately do so. Photograph: Frank Miller

Some 55 per cent of households have now paid, up from 44 per cent in July

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan: “It is 17 years since the Good Friday agreement. There is no place on the island of Ireland for paramilitary activity or organised criminal activity of a type that we now see.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Charlie Flanagan says any paramilitary structure linked with IRA must be ‘severed’

“Enda went to the edge of the precipice but didn’t have the guts to jump” was the conclusion of one  TD

With the prospect of an open breach with Labour threatening the Coalition’s key message of stability, Kenny backed down

Gary Hart, US Representative on Northern Ireland, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a meeting at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

‘We agreed that the current talks are the best way to resolve the differences,’ says Kenny

Tánaiste Joan Burton at a press conference on the 2016 Budget at Government Buildings. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Enda Kenny wants to abolish charge while Burton wants cuts for low-income earners

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin delivered an election budget. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Coalition promises further tax cuts if returned to office

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan (right) and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin  pictured at a press briefing on Budget 2016 on Tuesday evening at Government Buildings. . Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Main focus of package on USC cuts and increases to pensions, Christmas bonus and child benefit

Gerry Adams: The responses point to the continued isolation of Sinn Féin from the political mainstream. Photograph: The Irish Times

Poll shows there is very little backing among party supporters for coalition with Sinn Féin

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Frances Fitzgerald says date is Taoiseach’s prerogative as Coalition tensions go public

Taoiseach Enda Kenny who discussed the timing of the general election with  Tánaiste Joan Burton on Thursday. Photograph: Collins

Kenny and Burton discuss election timing, Tánaiste insistent it be held in Spring

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Tánaiste Joan Burton and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton at the opening of the Workday offices in Smithfield on Wednesday. Photograph:

Radical welfare changes on payments to benefit working families, says Taoiseach

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly will not change limits for election spending or  reimbursement of candidate expenses in the next  Dáil election. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Expenses which may be reimbursed to Dáil candidate to remain at maximum of €8,700

Fine Gael and Labour only need to gain a few points each to be in with a great chance of winning an historic second term.

The key question is why delay until February or March when things are unlikely to be any better but could be far worse.

Double act: Enda Kenny and Joan Burton outlined their vision for the future funded by the capital plan. Photograph: PA

Seductive Government mood music delivers multibillion euro soundtrack for election

29/09/2015 Taoiseach Enda Kenny TDduring the launch of the Capital Investment Plan at Heuston Station,Dublin.Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Combative Taoiseach rejects allegation and vows ‘I am not placing Ireland back in hock’

The Taoiseach is trying to end speculation that a general election is imminent. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Number of senior Fine Gael figures favour opting for November general election date

Twenty-two per cent of those polled said they would never pay water charges. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Fine Gael supporters the most compliant in water charge levy, with 70% of voters paying

Anti-Austerity Alliance TDs Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins at their first national conference at the Red Cow Hotel, Dublin, on Sunday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

In wake of conference, Labour TD says group ‘obsessed with misery’ not recovery

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister to announce move today at conference on clean air

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

‘Irish Times’ poll shows one-third of voters are less likely to vote for party in election

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. Voters have varying ideas on how he should use an extra €1.5 billion he has said will be available in the budget. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

‘Irish Times’ poll reveals public wants extra funding for services more than tax cuts

Refugees and migrants board a train heading to Serbia near the Macedonian-Greek border on Thursday. Photograph: Getty Images

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll indicates minority believe number of 4,000 is too high

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: In the light of the continuing economic recovery, the main Coalition party might have expected another significant rise in support   although the increase in Labour support will be a consolation. Photograph:

Poll offers Taoiseach mixed messages on whether to call vote in November or spring

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll: Fine Gael is now comfortably the largest party with 28 per cent support. Graphic: The Irish Times

The prospect of a November election recedes, latest opinion poll results indicate

Fianna Fáil has tabled a motion of no confidence in Taoiseach Enda Kenny following the publication of the Fennelly report. Photograph: The Irish Times

Heated Dáil exchanges likely over confidence motions as House resumes following recess

Martin Callinan one of a long line of senior gardaí who departed from office in the midst of political controversy. Photograph: PA

Background: Callinan not the first commissioner to leave office amid controversy

 ‘Much will depend on whether opinion polls, public and private, indicate that the two parties between them have a realistic chance of getting close to the 79 seats required to form a government in a November election.’  Above, Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / THE IRISH TIMES

‘The most successful political leader in independent Ireland, Éamon de Valera, specialised in snap elections, designed to catch hi(...)

Members of the public line up to sign books of condolances for  Thomas Kent at St Michael’s garrison church, Collins Barracks, before a State funeral on Friday 18th September. Photograph: Alan Betson

Relative of constable killed during Thomas Kent’s arrest says policmen ‘were Irish too’

Fine Gael candidate John Perry: he is under pressure because the Fine Gael election strategy committee is recommending one candidate be selected by Sligo delegates and one by Leitrim delegates. Photograph:  James Connolly

Supporters of John Perry excluded from vote after not registering with party for two years

Thomas Kent (left) and William Kent being marched by British soldiers across Fermoy Bridge in May 1916

Taoiseach’s speech at Thomas Kent’s funeral shows desire to control anniversary events

‘Not to be outdone Sinn Féin staged its own elaborate re-enactment of the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa, featuring a large group of supporters wearing the uniforms of the Irish Volunteers and carrying replica guns.’ Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA

‘Both governments have been treading softly on issues such as this for fear of upsetting the delicate balance that has kept the po(...)

Alan Shatter spoke on Tuesday of his upset at what he described as the misleading impression created by reports about expenses claims.

Irish Daily Star issues statement defending decision to print article on expenses

Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

TD says media has created ‘untruthful impression’ of spending on photographs

Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath:  has done the party a service by raising the issue at this time as it requires considered internal debate in advance of the election. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

‘While Fianna Fáil may win more seats than Sinn Féin it is highly unlikely to get more than Fine Gael’

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald’s mother  has died on Friday, August 14th. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Funeral due at 3pm on Monday and afterwards to St Conleth’s Cemetery, Newbridge

Avondale Hosue in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow which hosted the Parnell Summer School. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

Parnell Summer School told history should be ‘a source of wisdom for dealing with the present and planning for the future’

 President Michael D Higgins travelled to Áras an Uachtaráin on Tuesday night to be in Dublin to meet departing Israeli  ambassador Boaz Modai on Wednesday.  File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

President had not known ambassador asked for farewell meeting before leaving Ireland

A portrait of Isaac Butt  by John Yeats is among the works to be displayed

Portraits of Isaac Butt, John Redmond and John Dillon will commemorate movement

Businessman defends decision to sue CPP

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Taoiseach says chief whip used ‘poetic licence’ when discussing his future last week

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has firmly ruled out remaining on as Fine Gael leader until 2020. Photograph: Getty

Taoiseach clarifies position in wake of recent comments by chief whip Paul Kehoe

Enda Kenny  will be watching the polls closely as his Government heads down the final straight. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Government chief whip Paul Kehoe jangled a few nerves when he said there was a 30 per cent chance the election would take place i(...)

Minister Simon Coveney:  ‘You can expect quite a lot of people sank with the vessel which is really horrific to think about.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney says LÉ Niamh may stay due to scale of refugee crisis

Fine Gael leadership: Likely candidates loom into view. Photograph: Getty Images

Claim that Fine Gael leader would serve full second term as taoiseach seen as far-fetched

Renua deputy leader Billy Timmins: queried why RTÉ gave Sinn Féin such publicity for its partisan commemorations. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Renua deputy leader Billy Timmins queries RTÉ coverage

Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness  and Minister for Education John O’Dowd. File photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

John O’Dowd accuses paramilitaries of being ‘conflict junkies’ following bomb incident

Inside Russborough House, Blessington, Co Wicklow. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Ex-National Gallery board member says sale of Beit Collection is better than alternative

 European Council President Donald Tusk:  “I am really afraid of this ideological or political contagion, not financial contagion, of this Greek crisis”. Photograph:  EPA/JULIEN WARNAND

Tactical alliance between far right and far left a precursor to Europe’s darkest moments

Pearse Doherty: letter shows Government “blatently misinforming” Eurostat. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Cathaoirleach says attempt to have Eurostat decision debated not warranted

Independent senator Gerard Craughwell said the decision of Eurostat that Irish Water had to remain on the State’s books was a matter of national importance that needed a full public debate. Photograph: Eric Luke

Independent senator Gerard Craughwell called for recall to debate water controversy

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty has accused the Government of providing misinformation on the true nature of the Eurostat decision.

SF says Eurostat ‘drives horse and cart’ through claim the €100 grant is independent

Portrait of a bearded man, by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), in three-quarter profile, bust-length, with a white collar and gold chainsoil on oak panel, unframed was earmarked for sale.

Humphreys: State doesn't have funds of between €10m and €15m to acquire them

Protesters at an Anti-Water Charges Rally in Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Eurostat verdict means big hit for Coalition as election looms, writes Stephen Collins

An Taisce said most of the Beit paintings were only withdrawn from auction following the lodgement of its legal action

Crunch talks on artworks in wake of High Court finding on contentious export licences

Oireachtas banking inquiry chairman Ciarán Lynch said it is critical the inquiry survives recent controversies about its operation. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Inquiry to consider legal advice in relation to ex-Anglo chief giving evidence by video link

The for Criminal Assets Bureau investigator says cigarettes have become the new cocaine trade – but without the risk. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Report notes that black-market imports from Asia cost exchequer €250m each year

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly.    Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Review to examine whether planning body is positioned to meet future challenges

‘ The failure of Kenny and Burton to accept that they or their parties might have got anything wrong  . . . will do nothing to help the country avoid making a similar mess in the future.’ Above, a screen grab of Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Banking Inquiry

Stephen Collins: Taoiseach and Tánaiste gave the most politically partisan accounts of any of the witnesses to date about the ev(...)

Taoiseach Enda Kenny gives evidence at the Banking Inquiry

Enda Kenny and Joan Burton criticise previous government at banking inquiry

Eamon Ryan said the country needed Green policies like public banking, which removed profit from the lending equation, and instead provides a social dividend to local communities. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Eamon Ryan says country needs Green policies like public banking

The appointment of a raft of new judges by the Government has raised questions regarding the separation of powers, according to Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy. Photograph: Aidan Crawley.

System where those in power choose candidates ‘undermines separation of powers’

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald:  “We have reached a point where Italy and Greece, who are really on the front line, are under unsustainable pressure.” Photograph: Collins

Migrants, mainly from Syria and Eritrea, will arrive from Italian and Greek ‘hot spots’

Before the banking inquiry ...  Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern “accounted for his stewardship   with some aplomb.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Personal jibes at Bertie Ahern distract from the key problem that public spending raced out of control during his time, encourage(...)

Former Lord Mayor of Dublin Alexis Fitzgerald. File  Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Popular politican was key figure in party’s renewal in 70s and 80s

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern photographed in his office in 2001. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Despite controversy over personal finances he was one of most popular leaders in history of state

The Taoiseach told the parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday night that a lot of work remained to be done before the election. Photograph: Getty Images

Party intends to have selection conventions completed by beginning of October

US troops at Shannon airport. File Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Experts brief Oireachtas committee on use of of Shannon by US forces

Contrasting styles . . . Greece prime minister Alexis Tsipras and Taoiseach Enda Kenny chat during a recent summit. Photograph: EPA/Julien Arnand.

After five tough years Irish economy is growing more strongly than any other in EU

The overall increase of 12 per cent in the cost of healthcare in the Netherlands occurred during a period when the number of insured people increased by only 1.5 per cent. The vast majority (78 per cent) of the increase in costs is accounted for by hospitals. Photograph: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images.

Healthcare cost in Netherlands rose 12% in three years, says departmental report

Irish-US links and the political impasse in Northern Ireland were among the subjects discussed in meetings between the speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Issue of undocumented Irish also covered as US speaker and Taoiseach meet in Dublin

 African migrants become upset  as Italian police attempt to remove them at the Franco-Italian border between Menton and Ventimiglia during June 2015. Photograph: Sebastien Nogier/EPA

Fine Gael TD John Deasy says ‘unwise’ to act without clearer picture of African migration

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