‘These protests directed at the President also show a complete lack of understanding of the powers and function of his office. The only role which the President has in considering legislation is to assess, with the advice of the Council of State if he wishes, whether the Bill is constitutional.’ Photograph:  Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘Play ball, rather than the man’ rule would be a good starting point for greater civility

‘The Irish have come a long way in a short time in our attitude towards homosexuality. The scale of this shift in attitude was reflected in the warmth of the response to Varadkar’s interview.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

‘People ask whether Varadkar will lead Fine Gael and I offer the view that he probably will’

In the 2011 Dáil election 328 candidates qualified for reimbursement of election expenses, including the 166 TDs elected. Photograph: Alan Betson

Political scientists estimate sitting TDs and Senators enjoyed significant electoral advantage even before State funding

‘In their ruling they effectively described the decision to keep the woman alive for the previous two weeks as “a futile exercise which commenced only because of fears held by treating medical specialists of potential legal consequences.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘All the medical evidence available to the High Court at its special hearing on Christmas Eve could or should have been available (...)

‘At or near the top of government there have been some dramatic changes in personnel. We have a different Tánaiste   and a different leader of the Labour Party from this time last year.’    Above, Joan Burton. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘We may look back at 2014 as the year when, after initial tensions, Ireland shifted gently from civil war politics to a more typic(...)

‘The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll  suggests that the momentum is with the Yes side, this 80 per cent compares to 76 per cent Yes in polls by the same agency last October and 64 per cent Yes in polls by this agency in 2012. If proponents of this constitutional change want to win, however, they should ignore this and all previous polls on the issue.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘Most of those who will vote will only engage at or near the end of the campaign’

‘Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael also know, however, that their vote could shrink below a point where even together they couldn’t form a government. Any doubt Fine Gael may have had about that will have been displaced by yesterday’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.’

Irish Times poll confirms Fine Gael’s best chance of staying in government after the next election is with Fianna Fáil

Fiona O’Malley with party president Michael McDowell, Bobby Molloy, PD leader Mary Harney and former leader Des O’Malley blow out the candles on the cake to mark the party’s 20 years in political life at their party HQ  in Dublin. Photograph: David Sleator

‘It would take a lot of political charisma and an impressive set of policies, not to mention lots of funding’

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