Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin speaking at the 76th party ardfheis at the RDS. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times.

Micheál Martin’s keynote speech proposes cut in USC and attacks SF’s take on 1916

‘The ultimate test of Martin’s leadership will be whether Fianna Fáil can make serious strides on the road back and emerge as the second largest party after the next election.’ Above, Micheál Martin at the party’s  ard fheis last year. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

For Micheál Martin the Siteserv controversy comes at a good time, as he heads into Fianna Fáil ard fheis

Minister of State at the Department of Finance Simon Harris insisted the Government was “not initiating this on the basis of any evidence of wrongdoing”. Photograph:   Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Noonan review to examine all IBRC deals which lost State €10 million

The Government is to set up an investigation into the sale of the assets of the former Anglo Irish Bank, following days of controversy over the sale of Siteserv to a company owned by businessman Denis O’Brien

Move comes after controversy over sale of Siteserv to company owned by Denis O’Brien

Lobbyists will be obliged by law to register activity that takes place from September 1st next.

Sipo welcomes appointment as registration system due to launch next week

 Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works Simon Harris   viewing the restored memorial books at the War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge, yesterday, with Sarah McCartan, paper conservator, Marsh’s Library.

Conservation work completed on memorial records, illustrated by Harry Clarke

‘The parallel with the position Nicola Sturgeon is hoping to find herself in next month is obvious. The current Conservative appeal to English voters to stop troublesome Scots dictating who should form the government in London has many echoes of 1910.’ Above, Labour Party leader Ed Miiband and Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon during the BBC Challengers’ Election Debate 2015 at Central Hall Westminster, London. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

SNP’s role in forming new government echoes that of Irish Party in 1910 election

Proposals if implemented likely to result in control of the Seanad slipping out of the hands of the political parties.   Photograph: Alan Betson

Key element would allow citizens in North and abroad to vote in election

Working group chairman Maurice Manning: “Rather than set aside a specific number of seats for emigrants and the North, we though it better to allow all citizens to vote on the same basis.” Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill

Thirty of 60 seats should be elected by universal suffrage, working group urges

The working group on Seanad reform chaired by the former leader of the House and current Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Maurice Manning, has recommended that work begin immediately on legislation to give effect to the recommendations.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Radical reform of Upper House would include extending franchise to NI residents

NUI chancellor Maurice Manning, chairman of the expert group on Seanad reform. Photograph: Alan Betson

Expert group report expected to recommend new criteria for operation of panel system

Former taoiseach Liam Cosgrave and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the launch of the 1916 Centenary Programme in Collins Barracks. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Plan acknowledges British army and police casualties worthy of remembrance

Governor of the Central Bank Patrick Honohan: he and Michael Noonan discussed why standard variable mortgage rates in Ireland have not been cut in line with interest rate reductions by the European Central Bank.    Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Department of Finance says Patrick Honohan gave update on work being done on variable bank rates

Michael Noonan: acknowledged  the Central Bank did not have the power to force banks to reduce their rates but said the Central Bank could seek to persuade them to do so.

Noonan to ask Honohan to seek action from lenders on variable rate mortgages

Jean-Claude Trichet, former European Central Bank,   is due to address a meeting of the IIEA in a personal capacity on April 30th. Photograph: Reuters

The nexus phase of inquiry hearings will include 64 public hearings and at least 50 witnesses

Taoiseach Enda Kenny launching the commemorations for the centenary of the Rising at Collins Barracks in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Analysis: Comprehensive centenary plans should defuse complaint 1916 not marked with gravitas

More money in people’s pockets are among the concerns raised by respondents to the poll. Photograph: The Irish Times

Voters focus on the economy with creation of employment outstripping all other issues

Best off AB voters much more strongly in favour of sale than other categories while poorest DE category most opposed. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Over 50% of respondents oppose disposal, with half of FG voters resistant to sale

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell with the Six Nations trophy after the recent win in Murrayfield. Photograph: Inpho

Alex White considering adding home rugby matches to list that includes GAA finals

‘If Aylward fails to be elected, Micheál Martin’s leadership of Fianna Fáil will come under serious scrutiny.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

‘Some indication of how opinion polls translate into seats on the ground will emerge from the outcome of the Carlow Kilkenny byele(...)

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton. Seven  per cent of voters say they find Renua very appealing, while 28 per cent say they find it fairly appealing, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Thirty-five per cent of ‘Irish Times’/Ipsos MRBI poll respondents find Renua appealing

Voting trend: the decline in support for the Yes side since the last poll shows the Government has no grounds for complacency. Photograph: Keith Heneghan

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll shows Yes side has clear lead which will dwindle in actual vote

Same-sex statuettes atop  a wedding cake.  Support for the introduction of same-sex marriage has declined since the beginning of the year but the Yes side still retains a strong lead, the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll has found.  File photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll shows proposal on presidential age change facing rejection

A nine-point jump in the satisfaction rating for Taoiseach Enda Kenny is a positive for Fine Gael, with 73 per cent of the party’s own supporters expressing satisfaction with his performance. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Measure of comfort for all parties in poll - except for Fianna Fáil and Micheál Martin

The survey was undertaken on Monday and Tuesday among a representative sample of 1,200 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 per cent

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll: SF up and backing for Adams unchanged despite scandals

Last autumn there were 1,300 asylum-related cases on the High Court list, and it was estimated that it would take four-and-a-half years to hear them. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Cabinet backs Bill designed to streamline lengthy and expensive procedure

President Michael D Higgins: Idea was first mooted during his State visit to the UK. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister Charlie Flanagan stresses international dimension of commemorations

Shane Ross: The  group plans to stand on an agreed set of principles. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Finian McGrath and Shane Ross to lead new alliance in bid to enter government

‘The prudent management of the economy over the past four years has itself created some room for manoeuvre and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has already indicated that another round of modest reductions in income tax and universal social charge (USC) is on the agenda for 2016.’ Above,  Michael Noonan with   EU Commissioner in charge of Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Union, Pierre Moscovici.  Photograph:  EPA/JULIEN WARNAND

‘If France does not swallow the kind of tough medicine taken by smaller countries there is a danger its economy will slide over(...)

Peter Sutherland said 3,419 asylum seekers known to have drowned in the Mediterranean last year. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Only nine naval vessels and two aircraft on duty in Mediterranean, says ex-commissioner

Peter Sutherland, former EU Commissioner: ‘Other neutral states within the Union  . . . have made domestic declarations of solidarity to other member states in clear and unambiguous terms. They were not bound to do so but they have seen it as their duty.’ Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Other neutral EU states have acknowledged obligation to help partners who are invaded

‘Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan, one of the most courteous TDs in the House, issued a devastating response to Mary Lou McDonald who had the brass neck to ask if the Labour Party supported Sinn Féin’s demand for an official North/South inquiry into abuse.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

The implications of Sinn Féin achieving power in this State need greater scrutiny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Government’s plan would ensure that work paid more than welfare and the numbers of working people and their children in poverty would be reduced. Photograph: Bloomberg

Taoiseach vows to cut taxes while driving ‘steady growth’ in line with five-year plan

‘The iconic status of Gerry Adams for the republican movement meant there was never a chance that party deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald would decline to back him to the hilt in the face of Maíria Cahill’s allegations regardless of the political consequences.’ Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

At all times the party emphasises its united Ireland mission

Fears that the National Lottery is setting out to create “online Lotto junkies” have been expressed by Fine Gael Seanad whip Paul Coghlan

Paul Coghlan also says interruption in services could drive people to online gambling

‘The forthcoming election will be a do or die battle that will determine whether after more than a century of influence on Irish public life the party has a future as a significant political force.’ Above, Labour leader and Tánaiste Joan Burton. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / THE IRISH TIMES

‘Delegates attending the Labour Party conference in Killarney this weekend are under no illusions about the scale of the task they(...)

Minister for Children James Reilly: “Our children are too important. We must be certain that our investment in this area is as effective as possible, giving the best outcomes to children, young people and their parents.” Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Body to provide blueprint to end ad-hoc finance arrangements for children

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe’s stated today that the commitments in IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus do not go far enough, but that the Government was open to considering revised proposals. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Minister says Government ‘remains open’ to considering revised proposal

A diesel-laundering operation in Co Monaghan.

British-Irish parliamentary body to express alarm at scale of practice along Border

Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a video interview with ‘Irish Times’ Political Editor Stephen Collins

Enda Kenny and Ministers said Coalition would offer political stability and growth

“The era of new taxes and charges is over,” says Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the  Fine Gael National Conference 2015 in Castlebar, Co Mayo. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

“It’s about your right to say two small words ... I Do,” Taoiseach says

“From my perspective as Minister for Finance, the Budget is part of a much broader strategy to manage the economy for growth and job creation,” said Michael Noonan. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

Ireland well positioned to benefit from any any euro zone pick-up, says Minister

‘When he addresses the Fine Gael faithful at the party’s national conference in Castlebar tonight, Kenny will have a success story to tell about the economic recovery and his Government’s role in it.’ Photograph:  Gareth Chaney/ Collins

The decision by Fine Gael to hold its conference in the Taoiseach’s home patch in Castlebar shows just how tightly fought every se(...)

The Taoiseach also said the estimate for the President’s establishment was €3.44 million this year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Extra security will be provided if required says Taoiseach

Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald: said Bill will provide crucial legal support and protection for children in their relationships with those parenting them. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Guardianship and adoption widened to various family types including same-sex couples

‘The details of the Children and Family Relationships Bill were announced yesterday by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald (above). While most of them had been in the public domain for a year or more the public debate on some of the core issues is only just beginning.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Cross-party support for Bill although some concern at what is seen as an attempt to rush it through too quickly

‘In the event Simon Harris (above) ran away with the contest (with Eamon Dunphy on Claire Byrne Live) not only because of his ability to marshal the facts but because of his ability to mix it in the verbal exchanges and poke fun at his opponent without losing his cool.’ Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

Stephen Collins: ‘The Coalition parties have clearly decided to be much more robust in their response to attacks from political op(...)

Socialist Party TD  Paul Murphy  speaking on his release from custody at Terenure Garda station.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Paul Murphy’s arrest generated plenty of publicity, but there have been many others

The Bill which, among other things, will provide for adoption by same-sex couples, is regarded as an essential component of the campaign to persuade the electorate to vote for same-sex marriage

Law to require hospitals and clinics to provide data on births via assisted reproduction

Former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has warned that a Yes victory in the referendum on same sex marriage is not asured. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Former Minister Alan Shatter is critical of delay in adoption legislation

 TDs who have strong views on abortion were  put on the spot on Tuesday when Independent TD Clare Daly won the right to a debate on her private member’s Bill on fatal foetal abnormalities. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Analysis: Some parties act to avoid dissent caused by Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill of 2013

‘Unlike their counterparts in Greece, who proved incapable of dealing with the mess they had created, Fianna Fáil did what was needed in 2009 and 2010 to pull the country back from the brink.’  Above, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘The latest phase of the Greek tragedy and how it ultimately plays out may lead to a more sober assessment by Irish voters of the (...)

Government Chief Whip in the Seanad Paul Coghlan has expressed concerns that the new lobbying legislation may lead to a culture of secrecy in the Civil Service. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

Government chief whip in Seanad concerned at new legislation

Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan has agreed to intercede with the European Central Bank  to see how it can help the Oireachtas banking inquiry with its work. Photograph: Alan Betson

Central Bank governor to ‘open dialogue’ with ECB on helping Oireachtas committee

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. Now time for action to reduce consumption and tackle alcohol abuse. Photograph: Collins

Ban on sports sponsorship not included in proposal but issue to be revisited

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: ‘Most Irish adults drink too much and many drink dangerously.’ Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Restrictions on cheap alcohol, advertising and sport sponsorship among measures proposed

On Monday Barrett issued a statement that was clearly designed to avert a confrontation with the main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, but it did not go nearly far enough

Seán Barrett’s position may be untenable if FF leader Micheál Martin calls for vote of no confidence

‘Both the Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett (above)  and Taoiseach Enda Kenny resisted an attempt by the former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to halt the inquiry in its tracks but Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin went apoplectic about the fact that a debate was disallowed on legal advice.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

‘Micheál Martin’s decision to stand shoulder to shoulder with Gerry Adams raised an eyebrow or two’

The red-tape drive, being taken on the initiative of Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton, is designed to save businesses at least €60 million a year.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Drive to simplify transactions between businesses and State part of Action Plan for Jobs

 Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe: he emphasised that the Government’s decision would be based on wider considerations than the price. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Taoiseach says in Dáil that connectivity and jobs would have to be fully taken into account

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe will brief Cabinet colleagues on Tuesday in respect of the takeover bid. Photograph: The Irish Times

Mounting concern for Labour TDs about the likely impact of airline’s takeover

A supporter runs towards Syriza leader and new Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras as he walks in Athens. Photograph: Orestis Panagiotou/EPA

Cabinet to be sworn in as Syriza strikes coalition deal with Independent Greeks

The Government has called on the Central Bank to take a more ‘graduated’ approach to the new mortgage rules

Central Bank reconsidering plans to introduce 20% requirement with immediate effect

‘A victory for the hard left in Greece will demonstrate once and for all what happens when “anti-austerity” political forces achieve power in an EU state.’ Above, head of the  Syriza party Alexis Tsipras waves to his supporters during a party election rally in central Athens this week. Photograph: ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU/AFP/Getty Images

‘What Syriza is hoping for is that other EU bailout states such as Spain, Ireland and Portugal will see the advantages in an EU d(...)

Former Fianna Fáil minister Ray Burke: the recent move follows an earlier tribunal decision to drop its finding that he had hindered and obstructed its work. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Claims based on evidence of James Gogarty to be removed from 2002 interim report

The Government has pledged to legislate for gay adoption rights before the same-sex marriage referendum. The reform will be part of the Children and Family Relationships Bill, the general scheme of which was published early last year by then minister for justice Alan Shatter, with  a revised version  published last September by his successor, Frances Fitzgerald. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Government pledges to enact legislation on adoption rights ahead of vote

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

SF and Greens want it cut to 16 years of age

Ray Burke: Has received a letter of apology from the tribunal. Photograph: Peter Thursfield/The Irish Times

Findings of obstruction withdrawn, meaning costs up to €5m can be claimed

Former minister for the environment Phil Hogan said in 2013 that the Government “commits to holding a referendum before the end of 2015 on a proposal to amend the Constitution to provide for a voting age of 16”. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

No referendum on issue in lifetime of Government despite 2013 pledge on public vote

 Michael Noonan: said he would be broadly supportive of the idea of a conference which could provide a forum to discuss the debt burden on Greece. Photograph: Alan Betson

Forum could consider Irish, Spanish Portuguese and Greek debt, say sources

Irish peacekeepers on patrol  in Lebanon. The British army does not have  experience in such operations. Photograph: Defence Forces Military Archives

Irish Army to train British soldiers in peacekeeping as part of deepening co-operation

The Fianna Fáil leader  Charles Haughey, acknowledges the applause after his address to the party’s ard-fheis. Photograph: Paddy Whelan

For those who lived through those years, ‘Charlie’ is unmissable

‘Lucinda Creighton’s announcement of a new party  was immediately met with a riposte from Independent TD Shane Ross who is seeking to establish a rival network of Independents.’ Above, from left: Eddie Hobbs, Lucinda Creighton and John Leahy at the launch of the new political party in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Inside Politics: Coalition must display the competence it showed during first 3 years in office

Enda Kenny: As the taoiseach is permitted to nominate 11 members of the Seanad it enables the holder of the office to bring in people from outside the political system. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Kenny says he would appoint people to Seanad with a view to bringing them into the Cabinet

President Michael D Higgins has signed the water charges into law and ignored pleas from a range of Opposition TDs and Senators to refer the legislation to the Supreme Court. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Higgins rejects Opposition pleas for Supreme Court referral and referendum

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says that as the universal social charge brings in €4 billion a year, it is not possible to abolish it. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA

Tánaiste says people will see effect of budget cuts in their pay packets from next week

President Michael D Higgins signed the Water Services Bill into law after giving it careful consideration, a statement said. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Áras an Uachtaráin says requests were received to refer legislation to the people

The coalition government led by Garret FitzGerald raised taxes in order to limit the need for spending cuts. Photograph: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Northern stalemate and a Labour wipeout: the landscape of 30 years ago is very familiar

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny with the party’s then director of elections Frank Flannery, in 2008. Photograph: Eric Luke

Party’s strategy for next general election to give TDs greater involvement in process

Minister for finance Alan Dukes in Leinster House on budget day 1983. In 1984 he warned his cabinet colleagues that the financing of public expenditure for the remainder of that year could not be assured. Photograph: Jack McManus

Minister for finance drafted 1984 memo to persuade cabinet to cut spending

‘Joan Burton is in a very different position. Her TDs gave vent to their insecurities last July and regardless of how the polls move between now and the election her job is secure.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Inside Politics: Enda Kenny’s challenge is how to reverse the tide, if it’s not too late

‘An important reform which has already changed the way the Dáil does its business has received little or no attention. Pre-legislative scrutiny now allows the members of Oireachtas committees to make an input into legislation before it is framed.’ above, Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

The Coalition has been criticised for breaking its reform promises, but it has implemented reforms, such as the requirement for ge(...)

“If I have the opportunity on the next occasion to appoint a cabinet, it will be a 50:50 on merit, of men and women,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny told  political correspondents at Leinster House. Photograph:  Eric Luke

Taoiseach’s post-election commitment an attempt to woo women voters to Fine Gael

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: “Leo is very able and very bright but he doesn’t know the meaning of loyalty,” said one of his colleagues. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Leo Varadkar’s skill as a politician may be tempting him to be too ambitious

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: his views  on loosening abortion  legislation were not shared by all his colleagues. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Frances Fitzgerald says changes to the law a task for the next government

Enda Kenny said Leo Varadkar was speaking in a personal capacity when he told the Dáil on Tuesday that the current constitutional provision on abortion was too restrictive. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/Irish Times

Enda Kenny said Minister spoke in personal capacity, not time to look at constitutional change

It is understood the pregnancy is in the second trimester and that the foetus is well below the threshold for viability outside the womb.

Woman suffered a brain trauma a number of weeks ago

Committee chairman Ciarán Lynch with Fianna Fáil finance spokesman and inquiry member Michael McGrath. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Oireachtas joint committee 'disappointed' at correspondence from European body

The sinking of the Cunard ocean liner ‘Lusitania’ by a German submarine off the Old Head of Kinsale will be commemerated in a new stamp to be issued next year. Photograph: Getty

Gallipoli, Lusitania and Pearse’s speech among anniversaries chosen from 1915

Minister of Foreign Affairs  Charlie Flanagan: Recognising a Palestinian state had always been the Government’s objective, he said. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan says Ireland’s recognition of Palestine will help promote peace in Middle East

Labour TD Pat Rabbitte: Told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that abolishing USC was ‘fanciful’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Government dismisses calls for abolition of USC, as it brings in €4bn in revenue

Charlie Flanagan: “The parties have to consider whose interests would best be served by a prolonged period of direct rule, and how that might be regarded by the people of Northern Ireland”

Flanagan says there is clear responsibility on all parties in North to engage fully to ensure powersharing institutions do not col(...)

‘One of the most interesting speeches for its tone and content was that delivered by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who launched a no-holds-barred assault on Sinn Féin in defence of his leader, Enda Kenny (above).’ Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

‘The Sinn Féin dominance ensured that the main water protest on Merrion Square was peaceful and good humoured and there was no re(...)

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton at the North South Ministerial Council meeting earlier in December.  Mr Robinson has warned without a deal by Christmas, Stormont would fall.

Cautious optimism on talks as joint paper is agreed in phone conversation

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (pictured) and British prime minister David Cameron will begin two days of talks in Belfast on Thursday aimed at breaking the long running deadlock between the North’s five main parties. Photograph: Collins

Speculation that Enda Kenny to make financial commitments to A5 road

More than 80 per cent, after undecideds excluded, would vote Yes in referendum

The 5th Annual Marriage Equality March campaigning for equal rights for same sex couples photographed gathering at City Hall where they marched to the Department of Justice, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Another defeat is the last thing the Coalition needs ahead of an election

‘It is very much to their credit that Enda Kenny and his Fine Gael and Labour colleagues in Government have broadly done what was required to bring the country back from the brink of disaster’.  Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

‘The refrain of the Taoiseach and his Ministers about their success on the economy appears to have penetrated the public conscious(...)

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