Consumer confidence is on the rise and Christmas sales this year look set to be at their highest level since 2009. Photograph: Eric Luke

Employers predict unemployment to fall further next year to about 9 per cent

Gerard (Ged) Nash of the Labour Party: ‘It is up to us to make sure that people can start to feel the real benefits of economic recovery.’ Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Minister for Business says onus is on profitable firms who have kept pay down to raise salaries

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar “[It’s important] that we give the family and the doctors, who are facing enormous dilemmas now all the support that we can and we try to be as compassionate as we can and not overly certain.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne/Irish Times

Leo Varadkar says he was aware of case when he made speech on abortion in Dáil

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

Two midwives are to receive a pay increase and backmoney after the State decided not to contest potential infringement procedures being brought by the European Commission. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Row centred on how 10 per cent pay cut for new entrants was applied to two midwives

Brian Lenihan: The 2010 budget strategy memorandum was drawn up by the then minister for finance. Photograph Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Cabinet advised that compulsory lay-offs would trigger industrial relations strife

Gerry Quinn (centre, front) president of the TUI with union members during the teachers’ strike earlier this month. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Latest figures show scrapping Junior Cert would save over €20 million a year

The option for discontinuing the Junior Cert was set out in a “secret” government budgetary strategy memorandum for 2010 drawn up for the then cabinet by the former minister for finance Brian Lenihan in October 2009. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Secret government memo shows initiative was considered in run-up to 2010 budget

The Department of Finance told the then cabinet in a memorandum marked “secret” that without remedial action the exchequer deficit could grow to more than 14 per cent of gross domestic product in 2010

Lenihan said cuts of €3 billion were needed on current expenditure side for budget of 2010

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