Leo Varadkar: poised to take the crown. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Inside Politics: But Varadkar should still avoid cappuccino kids’ fate

Simon Coveney and Kate O’ Connell at Mr  Coveney’s policy document launch at the weekend. Photograph:  Collins

Kate O’Connell previously called Varadkar supporters ‘choirboys’

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, who has a commanding lead in the Fine Gael leadership contest so far. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Varadkar’s heartland contains just 10% of FG members who can vote in leadership contest

Simon Coveney, who said he believed he can beat leadership  rival Leo Varadkar in the regional hustings due to begin on Thursday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister says he has sought to convince the members to switch support from Varadkar

Simon Coveney  called Leo Varadkar’s manifesto a “list of spending commitments”. Mr Varadkar’s campaign declined to comment on the criticism

Varadkar backs more infrastructure spending and equalising tax credits for self-employed

 Simon Coveney   took issue with Leo Varadkar’s statement that Fine Gael needs to be for people who get out of bed early in the morning, saying the party needs to represent other people too.  File photograph: Cyril Byrne

Varadkar says Government has to ‘hold the line’ on public sector pay

Leo Varadkar launching his policy manifesto in Smock Alley Theatre, Temple Bar, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Leadership candidate threatens to overturn rival Simon Coveney’s ‘help to buy’ plan

Fine Gael leadership candidate Leo Varadkar at a 5k run in Dublin on Sunday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Centre-right rivals for Fine Gael leadership divided by style rather than policies

Fine Gael Leadership candidate Simon Coveney  at the launch of his policy document in the Dean Hotel in Dublin. The document draws on Fine Gael’s ‘just society’ tradition. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister trailing in Fine Gael leadership race, but says he will see contest through

Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney  at the launch of his campaign for the Fine Gael leadership, on Mount Street, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Analysis: The Minister for Housing is staying in a contest that has effectively ended

 Leo Varadkar at the launch of his leadership campaign for Fine Gael Party in Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Some supporters of Coveney had urged him to withdraw

Varadkar has been preparing for years, his team for months. Numerous people have been involved , but most were in the dark about who else was involved. Everyone fed back to him, but only a select handful knew the full plan

Varadkar co-ordination team had moved into office and were preparing for months

Leo Varadkar has a commanding lead in the Fine Gael leadership race after securing backing form twice as many of the party’s TDs and Senators as Simon Coveney. Photograph: Collins

Coveney hoping for support from large number of undeclared party members

Simon Coveney  and Leo Varadkar are the only declared candidates deemed certain of getting the required eight nominations required for a tilt at the leadership. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

There will be four debates for FG members around the country, beginning on Thursday

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has announced his intention to step down. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Kenny describes Noonan’s contribution to restoration of economy as ‘extraordinary’


Coveney pledges to unite party as Noonan says he will step down as Minister

 Enda Kenny: one source at the Fine Gael meeting said the Taoiseach’s departure was “clinical”

‘Let the games begin,’ said Taoiseach, before leaving the room to a standing ovation

The  newly formed  Cabinet one year ago: change is now in the air as Enda Kenny steps down. Photograph:  Maxwellphotography.ie

Enda Kenny’s replacement as Fine Gael leader must deal with local demands

To be eligible to vote, rank-and-file members must have held membership of the party in 2016 and 2017. Fine Gael officials say there are about 25,000 entitled to cast their ballot.

Fine Gael’s party constitution has clear protocols around the ballot for its leader

Simon Coveney  and Leo Varadkar are the only declared candidates deemed certain of getting the required eight nominations required for a tilt at the leadership. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dublin Minister ahead of Cork Cabinet colleague by 6% among TDs, Senators, Councillors

Taoiseach Enda Kenny  launching the Finite Lives at Government Buildings prior to announcing his resignation.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘Very emotional’ Taoiseach to step down from midnight

‘I’ve learned that people actually own you in a very different way than you might ever imagine’: Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Fine Gael leader in pensive mood ahead of ‘announcement’ on his future

Taoiseach Enda Kenny launching The Irish Times’ Nealon’s Guide to the 32nd Dáil and Seanad, edited by Tim Ryan (centre). Photograph: Dave Meehan

Party hierarchy demands clean contest after Enda Kenny stands aside as Fine Gael chief

“In truth, those closest to the Taoiseach say only two people know exactly what is going to happen: Kenny and his wife Fionnuala.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Analysis: Kenny sits atop the steaming pot; ambition, restlessness and loyalty stew below

Leo Varadkar has asked for campaign spending limits to be imposed by Fine Gael, in a move seen as raising the issue of the family wealth of his rival, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney. Photograph:  Maxwellphotography.ie

Minister for Social Protection has sought limit to spending on electioneering

The North-South Interconnector will run on 299 pylons about 50m high from a substation in Woodland, Co Meath, to Clontibret in Co Monaghan, linking the electricity networks in the Republic and Northern Ireland. Photograph: Eric Luke

Regina Doherty and Denis Naughten at odds over laying of cables underground

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday evening he will address the issue of his party leadership at next week’s meeting. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Taoiseach widely expected to announce date for his departure as party leader at that stage

There has been public criticism in recent years about the prices charged for event tickets on websites that allow secondary sales.

Company argues against legislation to govern secondary sales of tickets

Leo Varadkar gave a press conference on the steps of Government Buildings challenging Simon Coveney and other potential candidates to a broadcast debate. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Analysis: Despite Enda Kenny staying put for now, leadership contest is already under way

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald: backed Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

PAC vice-chairman Alan Kelly urges Fianna Fáil to push for Garda Commissioner’s exit

Preparations for the Fine Gael leadership battle are intensifying, with supporters of Simon Coveney (left) and Leo Varadkar (right) primed for the contest to begin next week.

FG contest: Some in Varadkar camp suggest Coveney at fault for poor showing in 2016 poll

 Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar: ‘I think a TV debate would be a good thing.’   Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister for Social Protection says public should see potential new taoiseach

Of the 64 per cent who voted to allow abortion with “no restrictions as to reason”, 48 per cent chose to allow it up to 12 weeks, and 44 per cent chose to allow it up to 22 weeks. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Oireachtas members unlikely to be as liberal in their views as Citizens’ Assembly

National Maternity Hospital controversy: Parents for Choice protest against the decision to give the new hospital to the Sisters of Charity. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Kieran Mulvey says elements of St Vincent’s agreement will be clarified but deal ‘will stand’

The Citizens’ Assembly recommended by almost two to one that abortion without restriction as to reasons be made available in the State. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

TDs unlikely to liberalise laws to extent proposed by Citizens’ Assembly, say sources

 Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin: “The challenge now for Labour is not to fight the last election again. But to listen to the people, and to prepare for the election of tomorrow”

Howlin speech to party conference offers broad sweep of positions but little new policy

Evin Ryan: “We need to promote a strong brand that says ‘Yes, we are Labour; Yes, we stand for these policies’”

Delegates at the Wexford gathering are opinionated on how the party should proceed

Reporters gathered outside  a school in Dublin’s north inner city during a visit by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minster for Justice Frances Fitzgerald last June. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Former TD Joe Costello describes Taoiseach’s taskforce as a distraction tactic

Labour TD Alan Kelly  said it was ‘totally wrong’ and ‘a disgrace’ that a company owned by the Sisters of Charity would own the new maternity hospital site. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Alan Kelly says Health Minister needs to ‘get control’ of the project

The public, after giving Labour a thrashing at the last election, have not yet been listening to the party.

Conference to take stock of election potential and voting public’s deaf ear on policy agenda

Labour leader Brendan Howlin: “Our objective is to build the party, to be the pivotal former of policy, because we live on shaping our society and having real good ideas to implement.” File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Party ‘obviously had very bruising general election’ and has been rebuilding ever since

Census figures  reveal  total housing stock grew by just 8,800 (0.4 per cent) in the five years from 2011..

Simon Coveney is considering extending incentives to increase housing supply

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. ‘The public’s estimation of Mr Kenny vastly improved when he bared his ruthless side in despatching the 2010 heave.’ Photograph: Seán Gallup/Getty Images

Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar will take a hit if they fail to take action on Enda Kenny

Paschal Donohoe: “Employees in the public service need to know where they stand with their wages, now and in the future.”  Photograph: Eric Luke

FG and FF compromise on water charges not ‘pretty’ but shows political centre can hold

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister says general election in UK does not change leadership process in Fine Gael

Gerry Adams and Micheál Martin are unlikely to be the party leaders heading up the coalition – but anything is possible. Picture: Oisin McHugh/FusionShooters

Analysis: The parties will likely end up as bedfellows – after Gerry Adams steps down

Leo Varadkar is thinking about merging departments if his tilt at the Fine Gael party leadership is successful. Photograph: The Irish Times

Minister considers combining portfolios of finance and public expenditure if FG leadership bid successful

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will use the summit to highlight specific Irish concerns, such as the Border and the Common Travel Area. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Enda Kenny to hold mini summit with leaders in bid to bring trade focus to EU talks

Enda Kenny: Will  the April 29th summit of the European Council be his last hurrah? Photograph: Getty Images

Inside Politics: Fine Gael meeting is told party reforms will come in under new leader

Enda Kenny: had  asked at the weekly Fine Gael steering group about how the contest to succeed him would be run

Deputy says mention of leadership by top party official signals start of the ‘end game’

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone: set to have consultations “regarding the nature and type of services and supports in the area of health and well-being that they consider would be helpful to them at this stage”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Well-being help may be better than access to a redress scheme, says Minister Zappone

The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home in  Galway. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Cabinet decided against extending 2002 scheme due to cost and legal implications

A shrine at a former mother-and-baby home in Tuam, Co Galway. The Government has said it ‘not possible’ to reopen the 2002 redress scheme. File photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Due to cost Government says it cannot reopen programme for institutional abuse survivors

The commission examining the future of An Garda Síochána will be expected to issue its final report within a year to 18 months, Government sources say. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Commission asked to recommend on ways to deliver a modern police force for the State

The traditional prayer which is read by the Ceann Comhairle, or whoever is in the chair at the time

Atheist Ireland wants end to Oireachtas practice of praying to ‘Christ Our Lord’

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has secured a commitment from his seven TDs that they will all stand again. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Politicians are ramping up preparations in anticipation of a short electoral cycle

The end of the Good Friday alcohol sales ban is likely to come into effect for Good Friday 2018. Photograph: Johnny Green/PA Wire

Government is moving to lift the 90-year-old restriction on the supply of alcohol

Fianna Fáil’s private members’ motion regarding Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan will be taken in the Dáil next week. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Party seeks Policing Authority to assess if O’Sullivan capable of restoring belief in force

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

FF calls for Authority to assess O’Sullivan’s position

  Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan received reports   that recording  was taking place on non-999 calls. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

System upgrade led to recording of calls on main telephone lines in 20 divisional headquarters

Mr Justice Nial Fennelly: also investigated the implications of the recording of calls at Bandon Garda station related to the investigation of the death of the French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier, in 1996.

Commission investigated taping of phone calls at Garda stations over many years

 Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar says the  confidence and supply deal allowed individual parties to take differing positions on the issue of water charges. Photograph: Collins

Minister seeks to ‘congratulate’ Paul Murphy TD for role in determining FF stance

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: flirted with adopting the language in a Labour motion for proposals on Garda reform. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Analysis: Martin must clarify stance on Garda Commissioner to regain credibility

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is understood to see human resources and how promotions are made within the Garda as a particular concern. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Review of Garda will seek to change senior appointment methodology, says Tánaiste

Fianna Fáil is to seek a specific measure to examine the management of gardaí, and whether gardaí should be allowed to facilitate promotions from within.  File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Meeting of party’s front bench hears strong criticism of Garda Commissioner

The weeks after the European Council summit on Saturday April 29th are seen as the most likely time for Enda Kenny to stand down. Photograph: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters

Brian Cowen’s coronation was an example in how not to become taoiseach

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan: “little evidence of real reform or cultural change”, said Fianna Fáil. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Party asks Policing Authority to take tough line with senior Garda management

Alan Dardis and Pat Doyle during secondary picketing relating to the Bus Éireann strike at Conyngham Rd Dublin Bus depot on Friday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Companies insist they will take legal action to prevent major traffic disruption in future

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan leaves Leinster House on Thursday with Assistant Commissioner Donal Ó Cualáin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Party aims to avoid supporting Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in Nóirín O’Sullivan

Garda Commissioner, Noirín O’Sullivan, leaving Leinster House yesterday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan tells Oireachtas she is taking responsibility

Nóirín O’Sullivan: ‘If there are people who have found to have erred, or deliberate wrongdoing, yes there will be sanctions.’

Garda Commissioner appeared before committee over falsification of breath test data

Nóirín O’Sullivan told the committee: ‘This falsification is not confined to traffic data’

Gardaí may have ‘deliberately’ input wrong breath test figures, justice committee told

 Policing Authority chairwoman Josephine Feehily  and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan in June, 2016:  A  commissioner can be removed by a decision of the Cabinet, or the Policing Authority can recommend to the Government that a commissioner be sacked. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Cohort of Ministers and deputies hoped O’Sullivan would be removed by watchdog

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter resigned in 2014 over a report by Sean Guerin SC. This year the Court of Appeal  found the report made “seriously damaging” conclusions that breached Mr Shatter’s constitutional rights. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

They include the Cooke report, the Fennelly Commission and the O’Higgins Commission

One Minister said support for Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan was “wafer thin”, and that there was an unspoken feeling at the Cabinet meeting that she should stand down.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Forensic accountants may be brought in to review all Garda data related to all crimes

Fianna Fáil will revisit its position towards Noirin O’Sullivan’s tenure  after she appears at an  Oireachtas committee  this week. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Jim O’Callaghan wants to know ‘dominant reasons’ why ‘false’ breath test recorded

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan Assistant Commissioner Michael Flynn pictured at Garda Headquarters. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Fitzgerald to provide statement to Dáil this evening on breath tests and FCN issues

“Getting rid of a Garda Commissioner is a serious step, and not one the Government or Fianna Fáil would take lightly.”    Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Fianna Fáil withdrawal of support for Garda Commissioner could set off domino effect

Nóirín O’Sullivan: Fine Gael Ministers on Monday night expressed support for  the commissioner. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan says he still does not have confidence in commissioner

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at a press conference in Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Nóirín O’Sullivan says she is determined to see through reform of An Garda Síochána

A source close to Simon  Coveney (left) said an emphasis on  Leo Varadkar’s Dublin base “will unravel on closer inspection”

Varadkar moves away from Fine Gael policy on Universal Social Charge

Minister of Social Protection Leo Varadkar is expected to propose a move away from Fine Gael’s policy of abolishing the USC. File photograph: Olivier  Hoslet/EPA

Fine Gael Minister to propose changing party’s tax policy in leadership pitch

Significant departmental resistance exits to a proposal along the lines of the 2002 scheme. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Government sources indicate that precise form of the arrangement not yet finalised

An altar at the babies burial ground in Tuam, Co Galway,  seen from  behind construction hoarding. Photograph: Barry Cronin

Report recommends extending compensation scheme for residential child abuse

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting he would not leave a leadership vacuum. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Succession contest expected to begin after May bank holiday weekend

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to be questioned on when he plans to step aside as Fine Gael leader at a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Taoiseach says he will deal with leadership issue after European Council summit

It had never been anticipated Kenny  would ‘conclusively’ deal with his future at the first meeting upon his return from his  trip to the US. Photograph/Niall Carson/PA

Inside Politics: Argument for being present at Brexit talks is valid but case for staying on much longer is weak

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will attend the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday evening but is not expected to outline his plans at the meeting. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Taoiseach confirms in Dáil he will attend first EU summit on Brexit at end of April

The mass trial of Ibrahim Halawa  and 493 others is due to resume in Cairo on Wednesday.

The mass trial of Dubliner and 493 others is due to resume in Cairo on Wednesday

Michael Noonan said Mr Kenny’s speech on immigration in front of US president Donald Trump ‘shows how diplomatic he can be’. Photograph: Olivier Douliery/EPA

The Taoiseach is unlikely to give a firm indication of his plans for several weeks

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has said  Enda Kenny should attend the first European summit following the March 29th triggering of article 50. Photograph: The Irish Times

Coveney says Kenny should attend first Brexit EU summit after article 50 triggered

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin says he believes a united Ireland is possible in his lifetime.

Party intends publishing 12-point proposal within months to strengthen links with NI

John McNamee, dressed as a customs worker, joined  members of Border Communities Against Brexit to protest against Brexit by setting up an old customs post at Carrickcarnon in February 2017. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

White Paper from FF leader will be valuable contribution to debate intensified by Brexit

Stepaside Garda station is understood to be one of six to be reopened as part of a pilot scheme. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Local TD Shane Ross had sought move as part of government deal

Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin said a 13.9% pay gap between men and women equates to a woman having to work for free for a month. Photograph: Collins

Labour wants to force firms to make clear differences between male and female pay

 Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald’s canvass only started earlier this week after she gave her firmest indication that she will run for  leadership. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Rules say contenders must be nominated by eight members of parliamentary party

Minister Katherine Zappone will vote against an Opposition abortion Bill but has strongly rejected claims  that it could help abusive partners rather than pregnant women. Photograph: Eric Luke/ The Irish Times.

Minister for Children to vote against proposal, criticised by FG colleagues, regardless

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone: was advised by Ministers about a Bill imposing a €1 fine on an abusive man who beats a woman and causes her to lose a baby. Fine Gael women pointed out it was a bad Bill, not a conscience issue. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister told legislation could assist abusive partners more than pregnant women

The Bill from the AAA-PBP aims to amend a section of the 2013 Act.

Agreement proves elusive on contentious Bill as concerns raised over Government position

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone is expected to give an update on the Tuam scandal to her Cabinet colleagues. hotograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Commission examining mother and baby homes could be greatly expanded

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