Fine Gael leadership candidates Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney greet each other in a Dublin hotel at the start of the first of four nights on the hustings. Photograph: Alan Betson

Varadkar says in trying to stand for everyone, the party risked standing for nothing

Among Fine Gael voters 48% would choose Simon Coveney for party leader with 44% opting for Mr Varadkar and 8% undecided.

Minister for Housing holds lead among wider electorate and party members in Fine Gael leadership race

Asked their preferred choice for leader of Fine Gael, 42% of all voters said Simon Coveney, while 37% opted for Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Figures undermine Dublin West TD’s claim that he is preferred by the public at large

Labour leader Brendan Howlin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Howlin says companies with more than 50 employees should publish all salaries

A banner for Ireland 2023 Rugby World Cup is displayed in the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Cabinet sanctions Irish campaign and agrees to pay €139m fee to tournament owners

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross: refused to agree to judicial appointments last year as he was seeking reforms of the way judges are appointed.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Bill to reform the way judges are appointed will be approved next week, says Shane Ross

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar  launching his policy document for his campaign for the Fine Gael leadership. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Leo Varadkar’s policies more specific than Simon Coveney’s – with clear nod to election

Simon Coveney characterised Leo Varadkar’s policy document as a “list of spending commitments”. Photographs: The Irish Times

Varadkar continues to build strong lead among party’s TDs, Senators and MEPs

 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: “Appears to have an unstoppable momentum at this stage.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Appearing as candidate of change entails expectation that menu of change will follow

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe on Leo Street in Dublin on Friday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Defiant Simon Coveney vows to fight despite rival’s near-unassailable lead

Leo Varadkar has not won yet but something huge has to change in the race for him not to win

Front-runner is now likely to be subjected to testing interrogation

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan: sale of 25% stake on the stock market could raise €2.5-€3bn, say analysts. Photograph: Eric Luke

Floating of bailed-out State-owned bank may be Minister’s last key decision in official role

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar: ends day one with support of 31 members of the parliamentary party to Simon Coveney’s 17, with 26 undecided or undeclared.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

On day one Simon Coveney lags behind as Fine Gael supporters show their loyalties

Simon Coveney: his efforts on housing and his apparent popularity among the Fine Gael grassroots have closed the gap on Varadkar

Leo Varadkar will try to show in coming days the contest is over before it even begins

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings yesterday: Mr Kenny will remain as Taoiseach until his successor is elected by the Dáil. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Leo Varadkar ahead of Simon Coveney in survey of elected representatives

Enda Kenny at the 1976 Fine Gael ardfheis: His political career spans an extraordinary period in Irish history, one that has witnessed the true transformation of Ireland. Photograph: Peter Thursfield/The Irish Times

Outgoing Taoiseach’s rare political instinct enabled him to rebuild Fine Gael, manage the State during crisis . . . and know when (...)

Some 45 per cent of people have private health insurance cover. Photograph: Alan Betson

Draft reports seek total ‘disentanglement’ of two systems, but FF-FG likely to resist

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the launch in the Irish Architectural Archive. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Enda Kenny was speaking at launch of latest Irish Times Nealon’s Guide

Liam Irwin of the Revenue Commissioners said that within 10-15 km of the Border there could be “trade facilitation posts” to allow for customs declarations on incoming goods. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Revenue official says all trade transactions with Britain facing customs declarations

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Government in suspended animation amid speculation over departure plans of Fine Gael leader

Minister for Transport Shane Ross: “perfectly happy with the progress” of the legislation to reform the judicial appointments process, according to a spokeswoman. Photograph: Alan Betson

Shane Ross says he has ‘no problem’ with repeated delays

“Liam Doran, the canny boss of the nurses’ union, exploded onto the airwaves during the chocolates row.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Standing up to vested interests necessary for political system to work

Enda Kenny, Manfred Weber and Martin Kamp at the EPP  meeting in Druids Glen, Wicklow on Friday. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

EPP leader: ‘too little awareness of what Brexit means’

Tony Blair: Jeremy Corbyn facilitated Brexit. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

‘A hard Border would be a disaster, everything must be done to avoid it’

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O Sullivan at Templemore. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

PAC hears commissioner delayed telling Garda audit unit of financial irregularities

Michel Barnier arrives for a meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings: his message was that Ireland had the goodwill of the EU and its determination to make the best deal for this country. Photograph: Paul Faith/WPA Pool/Getty

EU chief Brexit negotiator’s goodwill claims come amid trade and Border uncertainties

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, addressing TDs and Senators. Photograph: Maxwell

European Union’s chief negotiator reassures Oireachtas that Irish problem is high priority

Taoiseach Enda Kenny addressing the EPP Group conference at Druid’s Glen. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

‘We cannot have a border like before,’ Taoiseach tells European colleagues in Wicklow

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs have joined together to block a plan to abolish tax relief on private health insurance. File photograph: Getty Images

Independent and Sinn Féin politicians proposed ending benefit for private premiums

European Commission chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has arrived in Dublin. Photograph: Emilio Naranjo

European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator to offer assurances on Ireland’s status

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier: delights in pointing out how difficult it will be to disentangle the UK from the EU. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty

Chief Brexit negotiator for European Commission ‘gets’ Ireland but serves many masters

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has said: ‘The demands on resources available to the State are very, very, very large.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Commission’s report told us little we did not know, but it will influence forthcoming talks

Minister for Transport Shane Ross:  asked Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan if Ireland voted in favour of Saudi Arabia’s election to the UN body on women’s rights recently. Photograph: Alan Betson

Controversial issues to be ‘red-flagged’ to Cabinet after Independent Alliance queries

Finbar O’Brien has been appointed Ambassador to Uganda, and also to Rwanda. He was previously principal development specialist at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin

Diplomats being sent to Ethiopia, Mexico, Uganda, Cyprus, Sweden, Slovenia and Egypt

The Public Service Pay Commission report  says tens of thousands of State employees should contribute more towards their pension arrangements. File photograph: iStockPhoto

ICTU Public Services Committee calls for early talks on recovery of public service pay

Unions would have to vote on any agreement over the summer months

The 148-page document on public pay will form basis of talks

 Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs have expressed alarm at a proposal to completely separate public and private healthcare in the Republic. Photograph: Getty Images

Oireachtas committee is set to vote on a plan to separate public and private services

An overwhelming majority of Irish people wish to remain in the EU. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

Poll finds 57 per cent say Ireland should be part of increased EU defence co-operation

The pay  report is expected to put the net value of the public sector pension at between 12-18 per cent of salary.

Pension reform should be matter for negotiation, says report

Enda Kenny during the summit of EU leaders  in Brussels: the elevation of Irish concerns to European priorities is about as good as we could have hoped for at this stage. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

Brexit and the public finances require at the very least an injection of discipline

Next spring is probably the earliest date a vote could be held on this divisive issue. Photographs: The Irish Times

Scope of potential new legislation and campaign strategies now under consideration

The Department of Finance has said it is ‘not at the point where we are worried’ about the public finances following disappointing exchequer figures. File photograph: iStock

Exchequer returns confirm downward trend as figures €344m below target

What is it going to cost Britain to leave the EU? Photograph: Getty Images

The UK has accepted there may be a cost to exit the EU, but how much will the bill be?

Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, and head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Leaks show absence of understanding and spirit of compromise in EU-UK relations

Taoiseach  Enda Kenny: the Government will seek EU support for Irish businesses and industries which face particular challenges from Brexit. Photograph: Olivier Matthys/AP

Theresa May warns Juncker she intends being ‘bloody difficult’ in negotiations

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: summit results do represent a significant achievement by the Government. Photograph: AFP

Nobody wants to see British leave, even though they were EU’s awkward squad since forever

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a press  conference after the special EU Brexit summit in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Taoiseach says the declaration on Northern Ireland’s status is ‘hugely important’

Taoiseach  Enda Kenny listens to questions during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels on Saturday. Photograph: AP

Taoiseach is in Canada next week and will not attend FG parliamentary party meeting

 Enda Kenny told reporters in Brussels that the purpose of the  statement was to ensure  Brexit ‘does not undermine any provision of the Good Friday Agreement’ rather than to move towards Irish unity. Photograph: EPA

Way clear for North to automatically become part of EU if its people vote for united Ireland

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. “The arguments for keeping him are not even a minority sport in Fine Gael.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Pat Leahy: Changes in personnel and policies will make politics more combustible

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams: he  said the draft guidelines published in advance of the summit “fell short of what is required from Ireland’s perspective”

Fianna Fáil leader says Ireland may need to push for EU rule changes in Brexit talks

The then new Cabinet, meeting for the first time in Government Buildings. Photograph: Maxwell

Earnest effort in a few areas, but hardly a record of consistent, tangible achievement

European leaders will gather in Brussels to agree the negotiating mandate for the EC team

The who, what and why explained . . .

Position will not form part of the guidelines for Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Member states may be asked to endorse idea of backing united Ireland after Brexit

 Minister for Health Simon Harris    briefed his Government colleagues on Wednesday on  row over  new maternity hospital. Photograph:  Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Harris rejects calls to compulsorily acquire site of new National Maternity Hospital

Minister for Health Simon Harris, National Maternity Hospital chief operations officer Kay Connolly (left) and Rhona Mahony, master of the hospital, with a model of the proposed new hospital. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Analysis: Harris to brief Cabinet on need for change in new maternity hospital ownership

National Maternity Hospital: The Government believes the ownership structure of the new hospital will have to be changed in response to public concern.

St Vincent’s drops threat to review project and issues pledge on independence

Privately, many senior political figures are sceptical that a referendum to enable the introduction of abortion on request would pass in a referendum, despite the vote at the Citizens Assembly. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Justice says legislation needed ahead of poll, which could take place in 2018

Report also envisages the introduction of universal free GP care in the first year of the 10-year strategy.

Draft report recommends huge cash injection in health service over next 10 years

Members of the Citizens’ Assembly were not paid for their participation, though they did receive out-of-pocket expenses. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The group aimed to be a representative sample compiled by polling company Red C

 Campaigners    outsideLeinster House  in Dublin during the government formation talks in 2016 calling for the issue of abortion to be addressed. Photograph: The Irish Times

To say most politicians are not relishing tackling abortion issue is an understatement

 Brendan Howlin addressing his first party conference as Labour leader which is taking place in his home town of Wexford. Photograph: Mary Browne

Labour leader addresses party conference in his home town of Wexford

Sisters of Charity: the Minister for Health says the order will have no influence on medical care when the National Maternity Hospital moves to its St Vincent’s campus. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

What’s needed is the sort of thing Irish politics is hopeless at: a long-term plan

Illustration of the new National Maternity Hospital, plans for which have been thrown into jeopardy on Friday evening.

St Vincent’s angry at ‘being portrayed as some sort of Catholic ginger group’

Illustration of the  new National Maternity Hospital, plans for which have been thrown into jeopardy on Friday evening.

Board of St Vincent’s to review move to religious-owned site in wake of controversy

Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill talking to the media in Parliament buildings, Stormont, as the party accused the British Government of wanting powersharing in Northern Ireland to fail. Photograph: Deborah McAleese/PA Wire

New deadline will be in midst of the often contentious marching season

Taoiseach Enda Kenny who moves past John A  Costello to become longest-serving Fine Gael taoiseach on Thursday. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Enda Kenny has reached his 2,233th day in office – just five days before his 66th birthday

In Dublin, house prices climbed by 8.3 per cent in the year to the end of February.

Latest figures cast further doubt on Government figures for supply of new homes

The Citizens’ Assembly’s chair, Supreme Court judge Mary Laffoy. The assembly will meet for the final time this weekend. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Body will meet for final time to consider future of Eighth Amendment this weekend

Enda Kenny and  Theresa May: discussed Northern Ireland, with the Taoiseach saying  “a return to direct rule should not be contemplated” . File photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Bigger majority for Theresa May ‘could bring advantages’ in Brexit talks

British prime minister Theresa May makes a statement to the nation in Downing Street. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivias/AFP

Officials say British prime minister reiterated there would be no hard border with Republic

‘Unless the relationship is put back together by Micheál Martin and the next leader of Fine Gael, we are sliding towards a general election.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil rows are aggravated by both parties’ destabilising internal dynamics

Fennelly report catalogues an astonishing procession of errors, ignorance and poor management in the force.

In wake of findings pressure for extensive overhaul of Garda is now overwhelming

Fennelly Commission: the issues that Mr Justice Nial Fennelly (centre) was asked to investigate included the resignation of Garda commissioner Martin Callinan (right) after the intervention of Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Supreme Court judge asked to investigate Garda taping of phone calls

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said the danger for Ireland was that “10 executives make a decision and we’re into serious austerity”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Concern expressed that 37 per cent of corporation tax receipts comes from 10 firms

Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photograph: Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

MEPs adopt resolution setting out parliament’s position on UK’s departure from EU

 People taking part in the Water Charges Protest at Merrion Square, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Reporters were left by turns bemused and amused as four separate press conferences took place on the plinth at Le(...)

Denis Naughten said the plan  meant that one home would be connected to broadband every minute of every working day in the next two years. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Analysis: Eir plans may lead to legal challenge – and cause conflict between Ministers

Taoiseach  Enda Kenny: He rejected claims by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald that the EU negotiating document dealing with the North and the peace process “is vague and conditional”.  Photograph: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters

Taoiseach insists British and EU assurances on Border and peace process are not ‘soft’

Ireland continues to have the lowest rate of divorce in the European Union

Couples must be apart for four years under existing rules

Protesters at the Strike 4 Repeal the Eighth march on O’Connell Street, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The committee will spend months examining Citizens’ Assembly recommendations

Ray Bassett:  EU demand for a €60 billion payment from the British government is “one of the canaries in the mine”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Reverence shown to EU is like that once shown to the Catholic Church, says Ray Bassett

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin: “We have been hearing for some weeks that some form of root-and-branch external review of An Garda Síochána will be commissioned. And yet . . . we have not seen any indication that such a mechanism will be established quickly.”  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Howlin says Garda should proceed with recommendations of Garda inspectorate

Taoiseach Enda Kenny  welcomed the language in the EU document circulated on Friday. Photograph: Domenic Aquilina/EPA

Draft negotiating guidelines on UK exit from EU fulfil key aims of Government

 Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald  told colleagues the Garda had been telling her as little as possible.  Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Alarming that political leaders no longer trust what they are told by law enforcement

Minister for Foreign Affairs  Charlie Flanagan and Taoiseach Enda Kenny: said Council of Europe document  reflected Irish concerns. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Donald Tusk says European council will seek solutions aimed at avoiding hard Border

 Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan who said document was ‘as good as could have been hoped for’. Photograph: Collins

Analysis: Measure would preserve rights of Irish people to freely travel, live and work in UK

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

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the negotiations on the future trading relationship between the UK and EU would take longer than two years. He said there “will be a need for transitional arrangements” after the March 2019 deadline for Britain’s departure. Photograph:  Tiziana Fabitiziana/Getty Images

Ireland to stress individual concerns in talks

 Michel Barnier: the EU chief negotiator on Brexit mentions the Northern Ireland peace process and the Border with reassuring regularity but nothing is guaranteed. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Best hope for Ireland is that UK avoids free trade deal ‘train crash Brexit’

 Minister for Communications Denis Naughten: responsibility for the post office network is to be transferred back to the Minister. Photograph: Gareth Chaney

Move comes after weeks of tension between pair over responsibility for 1,100 post offices

Prime minister Theresa May signs the article 50 letter: Ireland’s campaign has been successful in securing agreement among both the commission and most EU countries that the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK should continue as before once the UK leaves. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/PA

Triggering article 50 comes amid positivity to idea of need for Common Travel Area

Widespread sentiment: Most people in Government regard every Garda controversy – and they have arrived with some regularity – as a political minefield. Photograph: Frank Miller

Government accepts nature of cultural problems in force and the need to fix them

Theresa May: Once the exit letter from the British is received in Brussels, president of the European Council Donald Tusk will issue a response. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Once Article 50 triggered on Wednesday a two-year countdown to UK departure begins

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar: urged Opposition parties not to table a motion of no confidence in Nóirín O’Sullivan, saying she is part of the solution, not part of the problem. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Brendan Howlin rejects Garda Commissioner account of exaggerated breath tests

The  coffin of Martin McGuinness is carried through  Derry at his funeral on Thursday. Photograph: Alan Betson

As the party’s leadership changes generation, the real question about Sinn Féin is not why has its support grown, but why hasn’t (...)

Because everyone knows Kenny will be leaving soon, few Ministers are willing to bring forward initiatives or policies that might disappear in a few weeks

‘Normally the Taoiseach’s Department would be banging heads together. That’s not happening’

An Post has employed management consultants McKinsey to advise it on rationalisation plans

An Post says more than half of the company’s 1,100 outlets are ‘uneconomic’

The funeral of Martin McGuinness will take place today. Photograph: Alan Betson

Inside Politics: Key political figures to attend funeral of Martin McGuinness

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