Martin McGuinness: Sinn Féin has two strong candidates in Elisha McCallion  and Raymond McCartney, but neither can match the enigmatic qualities of their party colleague. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Sinn Féin may lose out without former leader while Eamonn McCann seeks re-election

Mountain-biking in Ticknock forest in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

State firm defers operation at Ticknock Forest over its impact on the popular amenity

Minister for Education Richard Bruton, who has twice before contested the leadership, has made it clear this was not the time to enter the field. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney accelerate campaigns in race to succeed Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny: “I will always put country first and never undermine the people.” Photograph: The Irish Times

Kenny pledge to ‘conclusively’ deal with issue on return from US a signal to contenders

Kenny had a dig at  Dublin North West  TD Noel Rock as the meeting began, with a mild criticism about the accuracy of his note-taking. Photograph: Eric Luke

Broad party welcome for promise to deal with question ‘conclusively’ after St Patrick’s Day

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Outstanding matter of his leadership will be dealt with after his return from the St Patrick’s Day visit to the US. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach to deal with contentious leadership issue after return from US visit

Fred McBride chief executive of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is seen arriving at Leinster House. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

CEO repeats apology to Sgt McCabe, says he has no evidence Tusla staff acted with malice

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: the timing of his political fate is not a foregone conclusion. Photograph: Alan Betson

Nature of Fine Gael leader’s departure hinges on parliamentary party meeting

Enda Kenny: Has escaped from a couple of near political-death experiences in the past . Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Inside Politics: Enda Kenny’s tactic of remaining silent countered by Simon Coveney intervention

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney are anxious to set in place a timeline for Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s departure. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Front-running contenders Coveney and Varadkar keen to see succession under way

Simon Coveney: “I have been through some very bitter leadership processes, and it has taken a long time for the party to recover.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister says he would oppose any motion of no confidence against Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: he has more cards to play with than one might think. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Different stances of Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney revolve around timeline for Kenny’s departure

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has faced pressure to outline his intentions regarding the Fine Gael leadership. Photograph: Alan Betson

Coveney says Taoiseach should remain in role until after St Patrick’s Day visit to US

Enda Kenny at the Microsoft hiring announcement on Friday: The Taoiseach is expected to consult with family and friends in Mayo this weekend about his future after a tough political week. Photograph: Alan Betson

‘He just has to say something – this is not going to go away,’ says one supporter

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the country would remain open to investment and trade. Photograph: Getty Images

Aid from EU may be necessary after UK departure as ‘most severe impact’ on this island

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Mr Kenny is under renewed pressure over his leadership of Fine Gael. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Parliamentary party chair asks members to stop making statements about the Taoiseach

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe. Photograph: Eric Luke

Crucial to recognise Enda Kenny’s role as Taoiseach and leader, says Minister

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Fine Gael leader has encouraged members to focus on their jobs rather than his leadership. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Sources close to Simon Coveney suggest 12-week time frame for Taoiseach departure

 The only realistic contenders for the Fine Gael leadership are Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney, with the former seen as the frontrunner.  File photograph: Gareth chaney Collins

Enda Kenny’s failure to distinguish between parable and fact was his downfall

Enda Kenny’s leadership has entered the endgame phase. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Taoiseach’s mea culpa over Zappone ‘meeting’ approaches cringe territory

 Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison (left) and his partner Marissa Simms talk to Labour TD Alan Kelly at the Dáil on Wednesday. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Garda Keith Harrison says he faced bullying and intimidation after prosecuting colleague

Independent Alliance TDs: Sean Canney, John Halligan, Shane Ross, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD and Finian McGrath  photographed on the plinth of the Dail. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Enda Kenny agrees to external audit of An Garda Síochána by policing expert

Micheál Martin has called on Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to assess her position. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Controversy over false slurs against Maurice McCabe dominates for five days running

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD during a visit to Cork yesterday. The Cabinet will discuss the establishment of a tribunal this morning. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Kenny and Martin meet to forge deal on controversy that threatens Government

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone: her failure to brief the Cabinet after her meeting with Sgt Maurice McCabe has provoked amazement among colleagues. Photograph: Eric Luke

Even her supporters in Cabinet will struggle to accept her handling of McCabe meeting

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Áras an Uachtaráin. File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Taoiseach insists he first heard of McCabe file on RTÉ but Minister says she told him earlier

Regina Doherty: When it comes to counting upcoming votes in the Dáil, the  Chief Whip  proceeds on the assumption that Fianna Fáil will not support the Government or abstain. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

As long as their existence isn’t threatened, Government TDs shrug off Bill defeats

 Donald Trump signs an executive order for border security and immigration enforcement improvements on Wednesday. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Inside Politics: The Stardust tragedy’s legacy lingers decades later

The committee of 20 TDs and Senators is examining how water services can be financed and if a constitutional amendment is needed to keep water services in public ownership.

Translation device issues prompted Séamus Ó Tuathail to speak English under protest

Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, at The Irish Times Corporate Tax Summit in Dublin.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Inside politics: Calls for Stardust inquiry show thin green line of Government survival

Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin came up with the idea for a formal caucus of women  TDs and Senators after her election to the Dáil last year. Photograph: Alan Betson

Sixteen of 63 sitting women TDs and Senators attend meeting about group

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

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