Coveney and Varadkar emerge from water debacle with leadership aims enhanced

“An early election . . . would quickly become focused on whether the bulk of the Irish electorate wants to continue down the populist route or vote for parties who are serious about government.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Stephen Collins: Collapse of Government over water charges absurd but possibile

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams speaks at the funeral of  Martin McGuinness in Derry. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Stephen Collins: Coming weeks will show if party has shifted strategy on North

Enda Kenny: the Taoiseach deserved plaudits for the skilful way he stated important principles about immigration while remaining within the bounds of diplomatic courtesy. Photograph: Kholood Eid/Bloomberg

State’s media must avoid distorting lens that turns criticism to destructive cynicism

John Hume: spent his political life trying to convince everybody that territorial unity is not what matters but unity between people

By using Brexit to campaign for a united Ireland nationalism has repeated an old mistake

Former US president Barack Obama receives his bowl of shamrock from Taoiseach Enda Kenny  during a St Patrick’s Day reception  in 2012. Photograph: Chris Kleponis/Reuters

Taoiseach’s trip to US on St Patrick’s Day became most significant during peace process

Brexit effect: It will  be challenging  to find solutions to minimise the impact on trade between Ireland and Britain and to avoid disruption to the the peace process. Illustration: Getty

Improved Anglo-Irish relations belie danger of us being used as pawns in British exit talks

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: The party sponsored the introduction of water charges as part of the programme for government agreed with the Green Party. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Approach to water charges demonstrates they remain unfit for government

February 2016: posters of Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin hang side by side on a Molesworth Street lamp post, across from Leinster House. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Performance of Martin’s party surprised many but combined vote hit record low

Enda Kenny: Given that   Brexit  will take two years – and probably far longer – it would make sense for the Taoiseach  to sign off on the negotiating strategy before handing it on to his successor. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Party almost ‘tore itself apart’ much like the period before Kenny became leader

Leadership issue now dominating the thoughts of Fine Gael TDs. Photograph: Eric Luke

Fear of an election convinces many backbenchers that a new leader is needed

Joining Fianna Fáil: Stephen Donnelly with party leader    Micheál Martin  last week. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘Oppositionist’ TDs are in electoral danger if they get serious about trying to govern

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s response to the pressure to cancel the St Patrick’s Day event in the White House was swift and decisive. Photograph: Alan Betson

US president inadvertently rescues Taoiseach from embarrassing political faux pas

State Papers 2016: Father of historian Tim Pat Coogan one of nine gardaí forcibly retired

The return of the water charges issue will test the credentials of Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil as an alternative party of power. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Victory for populist parties would call two largest parties’ viability into question

British prime Minister Theresa May has  announced the UK will leave Europe’s single market in order to control EU immigration. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

It is now abundantly clear that the hardest possible Brexit is coming down the tracks

Theresa May’s speech   put an end to any remaining delusions on either side of the Irish Sea that somehow Britain will be able to retain access to the EU single market and customs union. Photograph: Getty Images

Avoiding hard Border will require significant concessions from EU partners

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Despite the stresses and strains of party politics, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have managed to stick with their agreed confidence and supply arrangement. Photograph: Maxpix

Instead of saying the system is broken, politicians need to show it’s working

While the row that led to the collapse of the Executive had its origins in a “normal” crisis stemming from political incompetence, it was fuelled by the old sectarian bitterness that has never really gone away

There were problems from the very beginning in the powersharing arrangements

Phil Hogan: “It would be a fundamental error to place an excessive reliance on our bilateral relationship with the UK as the best means of ensuring that Ireland’s strategic interests are protected in Brexit discussions.” Photograph: Eric Luke

‘Real risk’ Ireland’s relationship with Europe could be defined by relationship with Britain

Ian Gow: maintained the agreement would “cause more bloodshed for no good return” and would prolong Ulster’s agony. Photograph: PA

State Papers 1986: diplomat Richard Ryan and two Tories talked politics over port

Cardinal Cahal Daly: “The Northern accent, after all, grates on a lot of Southerners”

Cahal Daly’s views sought about possible end to Sinn Féin’s abstentionist policy on seats in Dáil and any Northern assembly

The statue of Queen Victoria outside the Queen Victoria building in Sydney, Australia. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ex-finance minister said figure outside Leinster House was ‘part of our heritage’ in 1986

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams addresses the Sinn Féin ard fheis in 1986. Photograph: Pacemaker Belfast

State papers 1986: Delegates voted to end policy of abstentionism, leading to walk-out by dissidents

Then taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher (c) prior to an Anglo-Irish summit meeting at Chequers. File photograph: Keystone/Getty Images

State papers 1986: Documents outline talks between taoiseach and British leader

Middle-class voters and farmers were more inclined to emphasise trade than working-class voters, and both of those groups were least concerned about the common travel area

Trading relationship seen as more important than preservation of common travel area or keeping relations with North unchanged

US president-elect Donald Trump. A majority of Irish voters believe the election of Donald Trump will be bad for Ireland. File photograph: Peter Foley/EPA

Two-thirds of voters believe the Taoiseach should visit White House on St Patrick’s Day

Pope Francis will arrive in August 2018 to attend the Vatican’s World Meeting of Families in Dublin. Photograph: Alessandra Tarantino/AP Photo

Older people, Fianna Fáil voters most likely to attend, with young less enthusiastic

There is a stark contrast with the way President Higgins has used his office to promote his particular analysis of politics and society with the way his two predecessors behaved in the office. Photograph: Reuters/Pool/Maxwells

As the representative of the Irish people the President has a duty to put his opinions aside and represent the whole nation

The results of the ‘Irish Times’/Ipsos MRBI poll.

Enda Kenny satisfaction rating up seven points as minority Government’s rating also rises

Frances Fitzgerald said TK Whitaker was “a reminder of the many mistakes we have made as a country, but also a liberating realisation that public servants with optimism, integrity and a plan can do great work”.

Enda Kenny sends best wishes and congratulates retired ‘paragon of public service’

A water meter: “Whatever happens, those who paid deserve to get their money back.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Solving public sector pay issue for short-term political gain would be a mistake

“Shane Ross was politically clever enough to spot the opportunity the last election was likely to bring to put himself at the centre of national politics.” Photograph:  Barbara Lindberg

Independent Minister has behaved as if he is still a controversial columnist

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was adamant on Wednesday that collective Cabinet responsibility would apply to all members of the Government. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

Fine Gael and Independent Alliance reach agreement on wording of amendment

US  president Barack Obama  receives a bowl of shamrock from Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the  St Patrick’s Day reception at the White House in Washington. Photograph: Chris Kleponis/Reuters

Annual St Patrick’s Day tradition of presenting bowl of shamrock to continue in 2017

Former taoiseach Liam Cosgrave  in front of a photograph of his father WT Cosgrave: UN speech won widespread praise. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Anecdote about General Assembly address is one of most enduring in political history

John Wayne, Barry Fitzgerald  and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man: “Wife-beating, priest-ridden, blather talking gombeen men getting drunk,” wrote Malachy McCourt this year. Photograph:   from Hollywood Irish by Adrian Frazier, Lilliput Press, courtesy Republic Pictures

‘We may have protests’, said Washington counsellor when film premiered in 1952

Given the precedents set  by  the Luas drivers and  gardaí, Minister for Public Expenditure  Paschal Donohoe faces a horrendously difficult task in trying to hold the line. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

It has not registered that pay rises for public servants mean cuts in services or tax increases

Donald Trump’s touting of protectionism struck a chord with those  desperate for some solution to their declining incomes.  Photograph: Christopher Gregory/Getty Images

But Irish party system has lessons to learn from Donald Trump’s US victory

 Alan Shatter with Taoiseach Enda Kenny: In just three years in   office, Shatter initiated a sweeping reform agenda in the Department of Justice, publishing nearly 30 separate pieces of legislation. Photograph:  Leon Farrell/

Formidable deputy was one of the the State’s most reforming ministers for justice

A file image of Donald Trump at Shannon airport during a  visit to his golf course at   Doonbeg  in 2014. Photograph: PA

Analysis: Clinton had a keen interest in North and met leading politicians from the region

Paschal Donohoe: “Any changes we have in the Lansdowne Road agreement have consequences for everything else the Government wants to do.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Paschal Donohoe says €40m for Garda will come from existing funds not further taxes

Ministers Finian McGrath and Leo Varadkar have both said they are opposed to cuts to their budgets to facilitate additional pay increases above the €850 million already committed in the Lansdowne Road agreement. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Several Ministers say they will resist any cuts to spending programmes agreed for 2017

ASTI president Ed Byrne at a protest outside Dominican College in Dublin 9 earlier in October. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Disruption comes as tensions mount in Government over Garda pay increases

If the threatened illegality of gardaí is rewarded there will be no incentive for others to take their place in an orderly queue and make reasoned arguments to support their case

Economic recovery could quickly evaporate in a scramble for advantage by unions

AIB chairman Richard Pym: “Ireland is open for business, anchored in the European Union, and a very attractive location for inward investment.” File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Leave campaign was massive lie led by chancers and opportunists, says Richard Pym

Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a break at the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit in Dublin on Wednesday: “There are those around the European table that take a very poor view of the fact that Britain has decided to leave.” Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

UK unaware of hurt and anger towards it across EU, All-Island Civic Dialogue hears

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Politicians, employer groups, trade unions, farmers and NGOs from both sides of the Border will attend a discussion hosted by him in Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Taoiseach to host opinion leaders from trade and politics at forum on effect of UK’s EU exit

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald: says it is important to ensure the law “offers effective protection against damaging comments which are defamatory and can cause such distress”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Freedom of expression must be central to changes to Act, Press Council of Ireland says

A person aged 65 or over is exempt from income tax where their total income is less than €18,000 for a single person or €36,000 for a couple

Big differences between income of over-65s and younger people due to tax, study finds

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: reverted to the oldest trick in the political book in his  effort to curry favour with the public and cast the Government in an unfavourable light by asking whether or not TDs should take a Halloween break. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Micheál Martin, Clare Daly and PAC have all contributed to bad political form

Bombing of Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. A commitment to nuclear disarmament was made almost 50 years ago. Photograph: EPA/Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Irish push to eliminate last permitted WMD opposed by US, UK, Russia and others

Brexit ‘represents a huge challenge for the European Union itself, and Ireland in particular’, Enda Kenny told the Fine Gael presidential dinner Saturday night. Photograph: AP Photo/Olivier Matthys

Taoiseach says ‘a clear head and a steady hand on tiller’ is needed to deal with Brexit

British prime minister Theresa May (left) at the European Summit in Brussels: she believes the 27 remaining EU states have as much to lose as the UK from its exit. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

Conservative Party conference justified ‘the stupid party’ tag coined in Victorian times

European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan speaking at an agriculture summit in France this month. “It’s only No Brexit that can give us the [Irish] Border we have now,” he told the Oireachtas EU Affairs committee today. File photograph: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP/Getty Images

Agriculture Commissioner spells out potential Brexit issues to Oireachtas committee

Oliver Loomes, Diageo: “We operate on an all-island basis. I think we have one of the most integrated operations of any business in Ireland.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Guinness chief in Ireland says border could add €100 to cost of truck journey

A 1985 file photograph of former Fine Gael minister and Lord Mayor of Dublin Fergus O’Brien (left), who has died aged 86, with former minister Alan Shatter. Photograph: Pat Langan/The Irish Times.

Politician held Dáil seat in Dublin South East for best part of two decades and served as Lord Mayor

Lead piping excavated from the driveway of a home after it ruptured, causing a leak. Water charges have been suspended until April 17th, 2017. Photograph: Frank Miller

Department of Environment will provide €13m, with €110m from grant savings

 Martin McGuinness: “Brexit means disaster for the people of Ireland.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Deputy First Minister are united on the need for a deal

The Taoiseach with  Theresa May at 10 Downing Street. The prime minister, Kenny said, “was categoric about the retention of the Common Travel Area and no return to a hard Border”. Photograph: Reuters/Stefan Rousseau/Pool

Taoiseach’s priorities are protection of the peace process and Irish-British trade

Enda Kenny and Michael Martin: A minority Government utterly dependant for its survival on the main Opposition party has emerged from the perils of the budget process with its prospects of survival enhanced rather than diminished. Photograph:  Maxpix/Julien Behal

But could it withstand a serious economic downturn post-Brexit?

 Minister for Communications Denis Naughten said he would like to think  print journalism could draw down some of the money that goes to broadcasting. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Naughten says he would like committee to look at how quality journalism should be funded

Budget 2017: Minister for Finance Michael Noonan arrives at Government Buildings ahead of the announcement. Photograph: Getty Images

Highlights include €5 welfare rises, USC reductions and help for first-time buyers

Voters favour Government’s decision to challenge European Commission findings

Sri Lankan artist Upali Dias poses with busts of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Colombo. Photograph: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images

82% of people express support for Democratic nominee, just 6% say they would like to see Donald Trump elected US president

Micheál Martin: His commitment to abolish water charges smacked of opportunism. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Party must resist urge to woo electorate through popular spending policies

The Irish Times/Ipsos Mrbi poll results.

Almost 75% of voters favour repeal of Eighth Amendment to allow abortion in limited circumstances, survey shows

Fianna Fáil think-in in Carlow:  Despite the drop in support the  poll is still encouraging for the party.  It is well ahead of Fine Gael across much of the country and among farmers

Analysis: Majority believe current minority arrangement is good for the country

Sinn Féin support rises to 19% and Micheál Martin remains most popular party leader

Following the British PM’s Brexit announcement the Government said its focus would be relations between the two parts of Ireland as well as on the Common Travel Area and the impact on trade. Photographs: The Irish Times

Theresa May indicates state prepared to exit single market for ‘full independence’

The Government’s spending plan for the coming budget is being finalised. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Parents also among group to gain from variety of initiatives as finishing touches added

 Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan is calling on Ministers to prepare for Brexit by liaising with their counterparts north of the Border. Photograph: Eric Luke

Trade implications and Border issues are main concerns

Bobby Molloy, who has died age 80, was a long serving cabinet Minister and a founder of the Progressive Democrats who was a TD for almost four decades.

Long serving minister and founder of Progressive Democrats was TD for four decades

A strike by gardaí could do irreparable damage to the relationship between the force and the public they have a duty to serve. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Parties must ask should the fruits of recovery be spent on better public services or pay rises for public servants?

Greece’s former minister for finance Yanis Varoufakis and novelist  Elif Shafak  at the Zurich Dalkey Book Festival in June. He was a “disaster” as finance minister, said academic Bridget Laffan. Photograph: Conor McCabe

Irish politicians who led us out of financial crisis are not getting the credit for it

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin with Andrew Montague, Rebecca Moynihan, Ged Nash and Kevin Humphreys: “We are rightly proud of the many things we did in office. But we’re also honest enough to recognise that we didn’t get everything right.” Photograph: Dave Meehan

Labour Party think-in told economic implosion would have happened without party

The Fianna Fáil U-turn on water charges has the capacity to undermine all of the hard work that made the economic recovery possible, political scientist Dr Brigid Laffan has said. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

Academic Dr Brigid Laffan says FF switch on issue could undermine economic recovery

The proposed third runway at Dublin Airport received planning approval in 2007, but it was deferred following the economic downturn. File photograph: Kate Geraghty.

Minister to propose independent analysis of locals’ complaints about deferred project

  File photograph of Vera  Cosgrave with her husband Liam and Albert Reynolds. File photograph: File photograph: Cyril Byrne

Enda Kenny among mourners at ceremony for wife of former taoiseach Liam Cosgrave

Only time will tell whether inside the party of “new politics” the old-style Haughey-era Fianna Fáil is simply waiting to burst out, when the opportunity arises.

Prospect of a sooner-than-expected election has seen party shift into populist gear

Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim during last year’s floods. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Bill to tackle Shannon flooding launched by party ahead of fears about winter flooding

Minister for  Education Richard Bruton: “Few areas are more pivotal than education to our ambitions as a nation.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Countering disadvantage a key focus of Minister’s three-year programme

 Minister for Foreign Affairs  Charlie Flanagan (left) and secretary of state for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire  at the signing of a international treaty between Irish and British governments to establish the Independent Reporting Commission. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

No decision yet on future British link with EU customs union, says James Brokenshire

As Jack O’Connor suggested, the pension system has the capacity to do as much damage to the State’s finances in the long term as the banking crisis. Photograph: Getty Images

State pension is unaffordable in the long term and the pensions paid to retired public servants are even more unaffordable

European Council president Donald Tusk is planning to visit Ireland and meet the Taoiseach on September 7th. Photograph:  Reuters/Peter Andrews

Enda Kenny to raise Irish concerns over Border during meeting next month

Siptu president Jack O’Connor. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Siptu president Jack O’Connor says report fails to address the plight of older workers

At the wreath-placing ceremony to mark the shooting dead of Constable  James O’Brien, the first casualty of Rising,  was  his great, great grandson, Michael O’Sullivan from Listowel, Co Kerry. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

‘Things might have been far worse if the dreamers, poets and radical revolutionaries had emerged victorious from the Rising to imp(...)

Omaima (left), Fatima and Somaia Halawa, sisters of Ibrahim Halawa, continue to campaign for their brother’s release. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

Move follows rejection of all-party Oireachtas motion calling for his immediate release

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin must agree a  mutually acceptable financial package ahead of the budget. Photograph: Maxpix/Julien Behal

Fianna Fáil adopting politics of Opposition, while also exerting executive leverage

The citizens’ assembly will be holding up to 10 weekend conference-style meetingsover a period of a year commencing in October. Photograph: Alan Betson

Group of 99 citizens will look at a number of issues, including the Eighth Amendment

One of the anti-EU campaign leaders, Michael Gove, summed up the mood when he dismissed the economic facts of life by saying that people had had enough of experts. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Irish voters are also no longer won over by facts; instead emotion carries all before it

Former president Mary McAleese received a pension of €137,749 in 2015. File photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Former president receives biggest payment of any former office holder or politician

 Simon Harris: The Minister for Health said moves were afoot to put together the case for a move to Ireland and there would be a meeting with officials in Brussels to press the case. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

London-based European Medicines Agency will be obliged to leave the UK as a result of Leave vote

Gino Kenny of the People Before Profit/ Anti Austerity Alliance: “This is not about decriminalising cannabis. That debate too needs to happen but this is about simply trying to assist people in pain.” Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

TD Gino Kenny says there is broad support for legislation allowing use for pain relief

The bottom line for all other EU members is that the British cannot be seen to do better by leaving rather than staying because, if that happens, then the entire European project would disintegrate. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

This will have to take priority over issues such as the common travel area in Brexit negotiations

Fr Tom O’Donnell from Templeglantine, west Limerick, has been appointed to lead the Catholic Church’s investigation into the scandal that has rocked Argentinian politics. Photographs: The IrishTimes/ Getty Images

Former minister José López seen throwing sacks of cash . . . millions over convent wall

Cynics were quick to say that 'new politics’ had already proved to be a worthless experiment

Oireachtas committee hears six rural post offices closed last year

At the beginning of this year the minimum wage was raised by 50 cent per hour to €9.15 following the Government’s acceptance of the first report of the Low Pay Commission. Photograph: Getty Images

Low Pay Commission’s recommendation ‘very disappointing’, says Labour Party

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