Tyrone MLA Michelle O’Neill is expected to take the reins from Martin McGuinness

Michelle O’Neill likely to be part of new leadership that will lead party into next phase

The debate on Irish unity needs to be “deShinnerised”, a major conference on the issue organised by Sinn Féin in Dublin has been told.

United Ireland conference hears others besides Sinn Féin need to develop positions on Irish unity

John Malone knows a little about his Irish heritage, but only a little. His ancestors came from Cork. “I just know that two brothers emigrated to the US at the time of the Famine. One of them sought his fortunes in the west and disappeared.” Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

John Malone, figure behind Lionsgate production company, is worth estimated $7.5bn

Comptroller and Auditor General Séamus McCarthy: He told the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee  that the guardian ad litem service, whose 65  case-workers were paid a total of €8.2 million by  the State in 2016, had developed in an ad hoc fashion.  Photograph: Frank Miller

Comptroller says legal service for vulnerable children has no formal oversight

 Minister for Transport Shane Ross. The Cabinet is to fast-track the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill due to Mr Ross’s position on the legislation. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The legislation’s passage has been accelerated due to the position of Shane Ross

Over time, UK and EU regulations may increasingly diverge.

Future prices on the UK market are likely to be significantly lower than they are today

People Before Profit MLA for Belfast West Gerry Carroll. Photograph: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker

Non-unionist and non-republican representatives are increasingly prominent

 Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy (left), Michelle O’Neill (centre)  and Gerry Kelly speaking to the media at Stormont Parliament in Belfast, this week. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Minister for Health Michelle O’Neill says the Irish language will be at the front of election campaign

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire are not optimistic of a resolution to the Stormont crisis. Photograph: Eric Luke

Flanagan and Brokenshire concede ‘high probability’ of Assembly elections

 Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan speaks to the media at Stormont House in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Charlie Flanagan holds meetings with DUP’s Arlene Foster and members of Sinn Féin

Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster outside Number 10, Downing Street, last October. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Meltdown since McGuinness resignation not your usual Northern Ireland crisis

The ‘cash for ash’ scandal has caused controversy at Stormont. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Inside Politics: Wood pellets, not metal bullets, causing the latest fissure in the North

Minister for the Arts Heather Humphreys: “I was very clear from the start that the [1916 Rising] celebrations would be inclusive and respectful.” Photograph: Laura Hutton/Collins

Minister for the Arts says there is no reason why Government will not last for three years

David Stanton TD: emphasised that local economy could benefit from refugee centre in former Abbeyfields Hotel

David Stanton says centre in Ballaghaderreen will cater for Syrian families

An analysis by The Irish Times coupled with the findings of recent academic research suggests that while a total of 62 quangos were terminated in the past six years, as many as 40 new agencies have been created, some 14 of them involving the merger of old agencies.

Fine Gael had listed 145 quangos which would be terminated when it got into power

Former minister for public expenditure Brendan Howlin, who promised that 48 bodies would be abolished or merged, but the changes were incremental rather than instrumental Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Reduction in number of State bodies compared to 2011 is 12-17, far from FG promise of 145

US ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley is to leave his post before January 20th. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Kevin O’Malley had already planned to leave his post before the inauguration date

December in a refugee camp in Ritsona, Greece. The Minister for Justice has committed to ensuring that 1,100 asylum seekers arrive in the State by September. Photograph: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis

Government committed to admitting 4,000 people over three years in two-strand process

Ibrahim Halawa as he appeared before his incarceration in 2013.

Brendan Howlin, Eamon Ryan, Darragh O’Brien, Eoin Ó Broin, Paul Murphy among group

Front Line Defenders’ executive director Andrew Anderson, media coordinator Erin Kilbride and head of protection Andrea Rocca holding the annual report. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

Front Line Defenders says safety has deteriorated significantly in several countries

Minister of State for the OPW Sean Canney  on Kildare Street, Dublin. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Several TDs voice objections to the revised boundaries in the 2016 general election

Independent Senator  and Oireachtas water charges committee chairman Pádraig Ó Céidigh must now,  unenviably, come up with recommendations from a divided  committee in three months. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Levies remain unpalatable, contaminated and subject to political ‘boil notice’

Paschal Donohoe: “I don’t want to end up in a situation where, sector by sector, multiple unions want to pursue claims on behalf of their members.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

‘Bitter Blueshirt’ has proven a formidable negotiator in talks on public sector pay

Paschal Donohoe said the dividing lines in politics no longer aligned with the old left-right dichotomy. The choice in future would be between centre parties advocating stability as well as incremental change, with radical forces from the left and right seeking to ‘disrupt’ the system

Minister believes European example suggests volatility will become new norm

A number of Fine Gael TDs have voiced concern for those who paid water charges and who seemingly have no comeback

Taoiseach plays down potential of water charges to break agreement with Fianna Fáil

Mr Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh has been selected for appointment as a judge of the General Court of the European Union. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Former Fine Gael candidate will be assessed by panel before appointment is made

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Taoiseach says he does not regret comments about Donald Trump during US election

Tánaiste  Frances Fitzgerald will bring the Mediation Bill to Cabinet early in the new year. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Minister’s proposed law would promote a cost-efficient alternative to court proceedings

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said voters will not be going back to the polls in 2017. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Taoiseach also says there will be no reshuffle of Ministers or a general election in 2017

Enda Kenny said work on the National Children’s Hospital is progressing. Photograph: Eric Luke

Taoiseach says significant increase in Budget 2017 used to recruit for health and education

O’ Connell Street Right 2 Water protests at the start of 2016. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

News Review of 2016: While charges have been sidelined, the water issue has not gone away and may return centre stage

Taoiseach Enda Kenny during the annual recital of Christmas carols by the Department of the Taoiseach staff choir at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach says he does not expect a general election to take place for three years

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: he said while the ESRI was predicting growth rates averaging 3%, difficulties lay ahead over the coming years

Government will not be reversing any of 600 commitments set out in the programme for partnership, says Taoiseach

The bilateral meeting will come ahead of the British government triggering the formal Article 50 exit mechanism at the end of March.

May’s first visit to the Republic since succeeding David Cameron as PM

When asked whether he was looking forward to the election campaign, one of Enda Kenny’s stock responses was: “I’m f****ng dying for road.” Photograph: Bloomberg

Inside Politics: Read our favourite pieces from the digest in 2016

Dublin’s homeless crisis was discussed at Cabinet on Tuesday. Photograph: Reuters

Admitting delays, Government claims 210 beds for homeless available by end of week

Rescue workers stand at the scene where a truck ploughed through a crowd in Berlin. Photograph: Reuters

Inside Politics: Truck ploughing through market carries echoes of Nice attack

The scrap between Simon Coveney and Barry Cowen on Wednesday night was hardly bare-knuckle fighting, but, a bloody victory in a scrap was important for Fine Gael.

Inside politics: The party has finally shown that it is prepared to face down Fianna Fáil

Louise O’Reilly, Catherine Martin, Kate O’Connell, Norah Casey, Women for Election co-founder Niamh Gallagher, Fiona O’Loughlin  and Ivana Bacik at the Women for Election event.  Photograph:  Conor McCabe

Kate O’Connell criticises Taoiseach for breaking promise on ministerial jobs

Hilary Benn: “I absolutely do not want to see a return of a hard Border.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

British Labour MP Hilary Benn says deal on exiting EU should uphold Belfast Agreement

Worker installs a water meter:   expert group made no recommendation on whether water-metering should be continued. Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennells

Group chairman Kevin Duffy tells Oireachtas committee exchequer should pay for water

Fine Gael has made clear that its preference is to charge households, especially where there is excessive water use. File photograph: Getty Images

Group chaired by Pádraig Ó Céidigh has three months to agree recommendations

Some lobbyists do not realise how much detail they are required to include in their returns.

New sanctions for groups or individuals who fail to register activities

Alan Farrell TD has said: ‘Anyone who suggests I was coached, counselled or cajoled [into naming two TDs] is talking through their hat.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Several Deputies knew Sinn Féin TDs had been named in connection with IRA murder

The Government has deferred a decision to issue new guidelines for wind farms following a European Court ruling. File photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Court found that the public must be informed before energy policy is implemented

John McGuinness, chairman of the Oireachtas all-party Finance Committee, has written to Apple chief executive Tim Cook to invite him to attend a hearing next month. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Oireachtas group will examine European Commission finding on tech firm’s tax bill

Mr Casey said as many as 500 jobs were supported when Ardmore Studios was working at full capacity

Wicklow Deputy Pat Casey says studio might cease to exist after sale if land is used for property development

 Gerry Adams during a party press conference in Dublin last week.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Sinn Féin leader under pressure of killing of prison officer in 1983

Austin Stack (c), son of Brian Stack, a prison officer murdered by the IRA in 1983, at a Sinn Féin press conference in Dublin, where he confronted Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Austin Stack’s attack on Adams is the latest in a long line of high-profile interventions

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at a press conference  in Dublin on Thursday.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Sinn Féin leader ‘knows the identity of the murderer’ says Brendan Howlin

Parliament Building, Stormont: Sinn Féin’s policy paper  makes a case for the North to achieve “designated special status” within the European Union. Photograph: PA

Party also wants access to single market and to €800m in funding annually

The subject of the inquiry is understood to be allegations there was an orchestrated campaign, directed by senior officers, to discredit whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, above, involving an alleged whispering campaign. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister for Justice has received report from former judge regarding allegations

 Minister for  Climate Action Denis Naughten has accepted Ireland  unlikely to meet EU targets for emissions cuts by 2020. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Greens claim Minister for Climate Action does not recognise urgency of situation

The Government  commissioned research from UCC which bolstered its argument that achieving reductions in agriculture emissions was more expensive in Ireland than elsewhere

Naughten blames poor progress towards 2050 low carbon economy on financial crisis

Presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to use Twitter like a troll. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Inside Politics: Donald Trump has yet to show any signs of becoming presidential

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten is also bringing a memo to Government seeking approval for a sharp hike in the price of postage stamps next year. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Denis Naughten also seeking approval for a sharp hike in the price of postage stamps

A spokesman for  Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has said she received a letter from Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill seeking a further extension in which to complete his whistleblower review. Photograph: Alan Betson

Former High Court judge given six weeks to inquire into new allegations made by gardaí

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe: spokeswoman says  the net effect of the new estimates would not alter the public finance target. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Government says supplementary estimates will not affect overall budgetary parameters

Syria’s Grand Mufti, Dr Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, denied Russian forces or the Assad regime had carried out atrocities in eastern Aleppo.

Grand Mufti addresses Oireachtas foreign affairs committee

A secondary function of water meters was as an effective tool in identifying leaks.

Meter installation and normal usage loom large as issues over Irish water provision

An anti-water charges protest in Dublin last year. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Analysis: Group aware of issue’s divisive nature as it puts emphasis on general taxation

The report of the expert commission on the funding of water services is to be published on Wednesday.

Most households will not pay for utility under report recommendations

With 40% of the population living in the greater Dublin area, the spare water capacity of the capital is currently at around 8%, below the median for other European cities which ranges from 10% to 15%

Expert commission to publish reoirt tomorrow; Paper casts doubt on constitutional protection for utility

Taoiseach Enda Kenny travelled to Rome to meet Pope Francis this week: the pontiff plans to visit Ireland in 2018. Photograph:  Kathrin Ziegler/EPA

Shane Ross fears pontiff could become embroiled in controversial political matter

 Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross  has finally published some Ministerial priorities for his department, more than six months after his appointment to the position.  File photograph: Naoise Culhane

Independent Alliance leader finally outlines his priorities for Department of Transport

Cuban leader Fidel Castro posing for photographers in Havana, Cuba in 2006. Photograph: Alejandro Ernesto/EPA

Michael D Higgins faced criticism for his tribute to the Cuban leader over the weekend

John F Kennedy v Richard Nixon: the two US presidential candidates debate in 1960 (entry 1). Photograph: Bettmann/Getty

From Kennedy v Nixon and Haughey v FitzGerald to ‘F*** you, Deputy Stagg’, television has seen many memorable political exchanges

Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Mary Mitchell O’Connor. Photograph: Eric Luke

Mary Mitchell-O’Connor predicts ‘tailored’ post-Brexit relationship between EU and UK

The Government has deferred a Bill to curb alcohol abuse until after Christmas. File photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Government defers Bill to curb alcohol abuse until after Christmas due to FG divisions

Alcohol segregation: the change is intended to ensure alcohol is not regarded by customers, especially children, as similar to other commodities. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Store owners would be required to segregate alcohol and non-alcohol products

Labour party leader Brendan Howlin: “It’s seeing everything through the righteousness of your own country and the awfulness of the foreigner.” Photograph: Dave Meehan

Brendan Howlin says austerity policies have left ‘dangerous’ void at heart of Europe

Labour leader Brendan Howlin. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Interview: Party’s leader says he is ‘absolutely determined’ to lead its recovery

Catherine Murphy (left) and Róisín Shortall address the party event in Dublin. Photograph: Maura Hickey.

Party seeks end to religious discrimination, repeal of the 8th amendment

Catherine Murphy TD and Roisín Shorthall TD  at the Social Democrats inaugural National Conference in Dublin on Saturday.Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Analysis from Harry McGee on the Social Democrats party and its future

Social Democrats leaders Catherine Murphy (left) and Róisín Shortall at the party’s annual convention. Photograph: Maura Hickey.

Party members gather for inaugural national conference

Activists against climate change at the World Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco. Photograph: Mohamed Messara/EPA

Analysis: Ireland will not meet its 2020 target as economic growth spells more emissions

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaking at  the World Climate Change Conference  in Marrakech. Photograph: REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon calls on US president-elect to support Paris accord

Moroccan and international demonstrators protest on the sidelines of the COP22 meeting in Marrakech, Morocco. Photograph: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

UN predicts 2016 will be hottest year on record as representatives meet on Paris accord

Until very recently, the very notion of Ireland leaving the EU was so outlandish and marginal that it did not feature in any public discourse in a meaningful way. Photograph: iStock

In a year of confounded expectations, another unthinkable idea is gaining traction

Paul Kehoe: The drug he was prescribed was more appropriate for a “very short visit”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Paul Kehoe took alternative despite backing Lariam for troops in sub-Saharan Africa

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams made no criticism of US president-elect Donald Trump in the Dáil. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin leader careful not to make any personal comments about US president-elect

Fracking, to obtain shale oil and gas, uses high-pressure water to fracture rocks which contain deposits of the ore

Legislation brought by TD for Sligo-Leitrim which has potential for controversial extraction

Professor John McHale, the chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, will step down from the role at the end of the year. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Professor has been chairman of Irish Fiscal Advisory Council since its 2011 establishment

The public is to be consulted on the future of the State’s railways on foot of a review on  Iarnród Éireann, which warns of line closures if  significant additional State investment is not provided.  Photograph: Iarnród Éireann

Galway TD says regional development means not just retention of line but its expansion

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten is bringing a memorandum to Cabinet aimed at ramping up the State’s capabilities to prevent potential cyber attacks on digital networks and databases. File photograph: Getty Images

Move is first serious response to growing threats from hackers and cyber-criminals

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys: “The process is started, which is important. We are going to try and keep it outside party politics and look for cross-party agreement”  Photoraph: Davd Sleator

Organisers upbeat despite low attendance at round-table meeting, with no FG attendees

The Dáil last week debated the drastically deteriorating situation in Aleppo. Photograph: Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail

There’s no consensus in the Dáil over who is to blame for Aleppo and the refugee crisis

Increasing cross-Border co-operation led to the creation of six North-South implementation bodies, including Waterways Ireland. Photograph: James Connolly

Threat to EU funding casts shadow over tourism revival flowing from peace process

Nama board members William Soffe, Brian McEnery and Oliver Ellingham arrive  at the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Project Eagle discussed at special Public Affairs Committee meeting with directors

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

‘This obligation is as much an opportunity as it is an obligation’ – Denis Naughten

In his opening statement, William Soffe told the committee the board stood over the sale, the sales process, the price achieved and also rejected any suggestion that the agency’s Northern Ireland advisory member Frank Cushnahan had any specific knowledge or bore any influence.

Board members defend sale of Northern Ireland portfolio during PAC appearance

Ireland will be the second last EU country to ratify the Paris agreement on climate change which was brokered in the French capital last December. File photograph: Adam Berry/Bloomberg

Move will end weeks of uncertainty over Government’s intentions on ratification

President Michael D Higgins: critical of the European Central Bank’s “extraordinary structure”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘Unaccountable forces’ make it difficult to relieve people from poverty, says Higgins

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone: says she plans to oppose the motion brought forward by AAA-PBP TD Ruth Coppinger. Ms Zappone is in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment but told supporters the best approach was to allow the Citizens’ Assembly do its work and make recommendations. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Group of five may oppose AAA-PBP motion calling for repeal of Eighth Amendment

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald: a spokesman says two gardaí reportedly named by her at a meeting with Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and others had already been widely identified in the public domain before the meeting took place. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Claim Frances Fitzgerald committed breach over Garda whistleblowers in 2015 denied

A huge majority of Dubliners are in favour of the capital city having a directly-elected Mayor, according to the results of an opinion poll for the Labour Party.  The poll, commissioned by Labour Dublin spokesman Kevin Humphreys, has shown that three out of four voters living in Dublin believe it should have its own elected mayor.

Poll on the issue commissioned by Labour Dublin spokesman Kevin Humphreys

Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe emerged from Budget 2017 with considerable credit. Photograph: The Irish Times

Party’s point men show restraint when handling myriad demands and media scrutiny

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney  defended the €600,000 limit.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Cowen cites ‘blatant unfairness’ of €600,000 threshold in Coveney’s plan

Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Mary Mitchell O’Connor. When details of the idea were leaked to the media, it was shot down by the Taoiseach as inequitable. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Pre-budget suggestion of plan for workers coming back to Ireland resembled Minister’s

Budget 2017: There is  a new measure to incentivise users of large vehicles to switch from diesel to natural gas.  File photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Modest steps to help meet low-carbon economy target and begin fulfilling Paris Accord

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