People will notice if Varadkar  is insufficiently enthusiastic in mounting a tractor or handling a farm implement while trudging through muck at a  ploughing match. Photograph: Alan Betson

Taoiseach is targeting economic interests of the lower middle class, and we’ll see that in the budget

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at a joint press conference  at 10 Downing Street in London on June 19th. Photograph: Philip Toscan/AFP/Getty Images

Taoiseach says ‘further clarity’ needed from the British prime minister

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his Government believed in a “culture of aspiration” and wanted to help those who feel “they pay for everything but get little in return”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Taoiseach stresses middle-income earners will see income tax reductions in budget

British Prime Minister Theresa May: hopes her keenly anticipated speech in Italy will help to break the deadlock in Brexit negotiations. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Deal would keep Britain in single market during period, while paying into EU budget

Theresa May: expected to signal a concession on the “divorce bill” promising that UK contributions to the EU budget will continue until 2020 at least. Photograph: Caitlin Ochs/Bloomberg

Government content with EU approach so far but anxious about slow pace of progress

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “When an economy is growing, we should balance the books and pay down our debt.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill /The Irish Times

Leo Varadkar says those who ‘pay for everything’ should see some improvements

 Horses  at the site  near Athenry in Co Galway  where Apple plans to build  a data centre. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Government plans to change law to fast-track data centres

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: big challenges ahead. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Leo Varadkar has had a quiet start to his stint as Taoiseach – that's about to change

 Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: The Government needs  his party’s  agreement to abstain if it is to pass budget measures in the Dáil in three weeks’ time. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Confidence and supply agreement to reduce USC must be honoured, warns Martin

The Minister  has  secured Cabinet approval to refund 990,000 householders who paid   water levies before they were suspended last year. The refunds will cost €173m

Households will be charged for water if they use 70% more than average

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said both parties  have signed up to a reduction in USC and said it was not possible to do this and cut taxes in the next budget. Conor McCabe photography

Martin insists Varadkar stick to deal and fix housing crisis before beginning tax cuts

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings, Dublin, September 17th, 2017. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Idea that more money will fix health sector issues ‘really just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny’

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar photographed at Government Buildings, Dublin, September 17th, 2017. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Interview: Number one priority for Budget 2018 is to balance the books, says Taoiseach

 An astounding number of voters have been asked for their vote personally by the candidates, election studies show, and moreover, asking more voters for their vote increases a candidate’s chances of being elected. Photograph: Alan Betson

Public services may be the decisive battleground on which next election is fought

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the  Fine Gael think-in in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, ahead of the resumption of the Dáil next week.  Photograph:  PA Wire

Early days see directness and caution, and no striking out in any bold new direction

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  ahead of a group photograph at the Fine Gael parliamentary party think-in in  Clonmel, Co  Tipperary. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Taoiseach’s think-in speech tackled Nama and the budget but left his vision to one side

Nama homes: the agency’s joint ventures are already scheduled to have built 20,000 homes by 2020. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Agency would raise finance, take planning role and work with developers

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will attend an Ecofin council meeting later this week where the EU’s economic future will be discussed. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

State supportive of banking and capital markets unions but wary of losing authority

The Independents, including John Halligan, claimed a great victory when Government agreed to a review of corporation tax. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The changing mood towards the State’s tax regime presents opportunities and dangers

The proposals for deepening economic and monetary union within the euro zone  were discussed by the Cabinet after a briefing from Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney

State could lose €4bn in taxes if corporate tax harmonisation is adopted, expert says

Apartment supply is the main concern when it comes to building costs, with house building seen as satisfactory by sources. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

Government report sought industry group input, who say housing estates only marginally viable

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said health services in Ireland ‘have never had more resources available to them as they do now. Photograph: Collins

HSE faces a €300 million deficit but Minister says no extra funding will be made available

The scheme is part of a series of measures Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is bringing forward as the  crisis worsens. File photograph: Frank Miller

Loans in arrears to be bought from banks by private investors under Government plan

Nóirín O’Sullivan resigned unexpectedly from her role as garda commissioner on Sunday. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Commissioner’s decision to step down comes after three years dogged by controversies

Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is stepping down but the next Garda scandal won’t be far away.

Apparently damning report from Policing Authority awaiting publication

‘If you had asked me to pick a single representative of the last government who best represented the views of conservative Christian Democracy, I would have reached for Leo Varadkar,’ Mr Howlin said. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Labour leader challenges Taoiseach’s claims be part of a new European centrist politics

The Government’s ‘mantra’ that the €300 million shortfall in the HSE budget will be met by savings in the system by the end of the year is not ‘anyway sustainable’, Brendan Howlin said. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Plans for tax cuts should be abandoned for investment in services - Labour leader tells think-in

Sinn Féin leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Clear divisions between British and Irish governments on direct rule

A Union Jack and an EU flag fly outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain. File photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

European Commission to publish its long-awaited Brexit paper on Ireland

Martti Ahtisaari delivering the Iveagh House lecture at the Department of Foreign Affairs in   Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari delivers lecture in Dublin

 Charlie Flanagan. he will also outline the contents of a report by the Policing Authority into the slow pace of reform in the Garda Síochána. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will brief colleagues on two inquiries into Garda

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy. It is understood that the package of policy measures will include the review of the Government’s housing plan, Rebuilding Ireland. Photograph: Eamonn Farrell/

Eoghan Murphy hopeful of “scaling up” plans for permanent accommodation

“Events on Monday sharply illustrated how the housing and health issues have elbowed their way into the front of the Government’s agenda.” File photograph: Getty Images

Government insiders speak of Brexit but it is not on the political agenda in same way

A projection of Leo Varadkar’s personality: the Taoiseach competing in Dublin City Triathlon last weekend. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Pat Leahy: If Leo Varadkar won’t define himself, his opponents will do it for him

Sinn Féin’s northern leader Michelle O’Neill outside the party’s  headquarters in Belfast. The party has  rejected a DUP proposal for an an immediate restoration of the assembly in Northern Ireland. Photograph: Justin Kernoghan

Sinn Féin has dismissed a DUP proposal to restore a powersharing government

Irish ministers can speak Irish and have it translated at European meetings, but only with prior notice and in practice, few ever speak Irish. The Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada (above) has made a number of speeches in the European Parliament in Irish. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

High cost of Irish translation - almost twice average cost - has led to budget overruns

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson  on Monday proposed the abolishment of the US special envoy to Northern Ireland. Photograph: Reuters/Mike Theiler

Democrats say they will oppose the move, which would require congressional approval

Britain’s Brexit secretary, David Davis (left), and the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. Photograph: François Lenoir/Reuters

The ‘sooner we remove ambiguity’ the better, Michel Barnier tells David Davis

 Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams: is the party starting a move on coalition? Photograph: Eric Luke

Unless left unites, FG and FF will dominate politics and government forever

“Mr Crowley’s prolonged absence is symptomatic of much that is publicly perceived to be wrong with Irish politics,” says Hartley. Above, Brian Crowley. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Kieran Hartley appeals to Micheál Martin to intervene over Brian Crowley’s long absence

EU officials are saying privately that the British government has yet to engage seriously on the detail of the separation agreement. Photograph: Getty Images

Latest round of Brexit negotiations between UK and EU begins on Monday

Sinn Féin’s  David Cullinane favours coalition. Party  leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald have  signalled that the party’s stance on coalition could change. Photograph: The Irish Times

Cullinane favours coalition even as the minority party: ‘We want to be in government’

EU officials have warned the Irish Government that the British may seek to use the Border issue to open talks on the future trading relationship between the EU and the UK.

British government’s customs plans ‘are not on the agenda’ for next week’s negotiations

Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire,  in Dublin. Photograph:   Julien Behal

Proposed measures to deal with the customs issue were insufficient, says Taoiseach

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney welcomes Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire to a meeting at The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin for talks on Northern Ireland and   Brexit. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

James Brokenshire and Simon Coveney meet in Dublin ahead of talks with northern parties next week

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Montreal, Canada. Photograph:   Reuters/ Christinne Muschi

Taoiseach’s plan to double Ireland’s ‘global footprint’ is an ambitious one

 Sarah Jane Hennelly: “If I had a vote for every time people told me they were let down by Labour I’d be elected for sure”

SocDem chairwoman says the Labour Party has ‘lost its moral compass’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The recovery has not reversed the latent volatility in the Irish political landscape

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: believes public and political debate is riven by misconceptions. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Focus on communication may carry message Taoiseach is set to step up action in autumn

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: said there was a political border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, but not an economic one. Photograph: Collins

‘We’re not going to help design some sort of border we don’t believe should exist’

‘Asked about a newspaper story that reported tensions between the British and Irish governments, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar let rip.’ Photograph: Collins

Analysis: Taoiseach’s extraordinary outburst signifies a distinct change of mood

 Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen who was conferred the honorary degree Doctor of Laws (LLD) by the National University of Ireland, meeting former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern after the conferring ceremony. Photograph: Alan Betson

Former taoiseach expresses regret for loss of jobs by so many during recession

US president Bill Clinton and Gerry Adams in 2000 in the Oval Office of the White House. Photograph: William Vasta/AFP/Getty Images

Transcripts of the ex-US president’s calls to NI leaders reveal his huge influence on events

David Trimble, Bill Clinton, Seamus Mallon and Tony Blair at Stormont in 2000. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Transcripts shows active role of former US president during early days of peace process

HSE chief executive Tony O’Brien pointed to the reform of cancer care in the 2000s. “A lot of unpopular and hard decisions were made at that time.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Tony O’Brien says hard decisions require political courage ‘that is not often apparent’

Micheál Martin: “The history of the Irish revolution belongs to no party.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

FF leader also attacks Government’s ‘ideological’ hang-up on social housing

Paschal Donohoe: many of the economic choices facing the State will fall to him. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

MacGill Summer School had intense, informed debates on these two big themes

Garda overtime pay, which was cut heavily during the worst of the economic crisis, is now rising significantly again on the back of efforts to tackle gangland crime. File photograph: Getty Images

Agreed policy of civilianisation not acted on, leaving officers in ‘back-office duties’

The Government is alarmed by  the rising cost of special needs education. File photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

New study says a spike in the number of autism cases is a factor in increased spending

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: “Provision for further new expenditure measures in 2018 would require that departments identify funding for such measures by reprioritisation within the overall current expenditure ceiling.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Departments urged to look to own finances amid demographic and fiscal rule pressures

The National University of Ireland is to confer an honorary doctorate on the former taoiseach Brian Cowen at a ceremony in Dublin Castle next week. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

Ex-taoiseach keeping low profile since exiting politics after collape of FF-Green coalition

“Sometimes we give the impression the tooth fairy is going to fund infrastructure,” Robert Watt, secretary-general at the Department of Public Expenditure. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Robert Watt: Many homes will be built in Dublin over next 20 years and should be within M50

Simon Harris (R): ‘You cannot be worse off for having abided by the law of this land than those who didn’t abide by the law’. Photograph: Collins

€170m will not come from ‘whip around’, Leo Varadkar says

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald: at the start of this year they both signalled that the party needed to review its position on coalition. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Opinion: Leo Varadkar has potential but he has failed to show it so far

Retiring in August: Chief Justice Susan Denham. Photograph: Aidan Crawley  Chief Justice Susan Denham is retiring in August. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Government figures say the judge’s successor may not be appointed until October

Brian Crowley MEP has been unable to attend the European Parliament since his re-election in 2014 due to ill-health. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Being present for votes in European Parliament an ‘essential element’ of MEP’s job

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy clashed with the Taoiseach in the Dáil. Photograph: Collins

Inside Politics: Taoiseach and Paul Murphy clash over Jobstown comments

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has little wiggle room in the forthcoming budget. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister knows fiscal space of €300 million offers few opportunities for electoral gains

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: said he did not expect tax receipts to surpass expectations this year. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Government will prioritise areas of greatest need given ‘limited resources’, Minister says

Leo Varadkar will. make his first major economic statement as Taoiseach. Photograph: Collins

Inside Politics: Taoiseach’s first economic statement will indicate budgetary choices

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe at the National Economic Dialogue, in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Coalition will announce that there is limited room for tax cuts despite economic growth

Chief Justice Susan Denham: she retires next month after six years in the role, and 25 years as a judge of the Supreme Court. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Cabinet sources say Government agreed to an ad hoc process after Minister intervened

Minister for Sport Shane Ross stressed the benefits the tournament would bring to Ireland if the bid was successful. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Bill passes without vote despite concerns over TV rights and State’s underwriting of bid

The current chief justice Susan Denham, will retire in August after six years in the role, and 25 years as a judge of the Supreme Court. File  Photograph: Frank Miller

New system approved at Cabinet meeting will be seen as a sop to Shane Ross

Ready for the world: A banner supporting Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid is unveiled at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Inpho/Billy Stickland

The legislation commits significant public resources to Rugby World Cup bid with little scrutiny

Paul Murphy at a press conference calling for a public inquiry into the Jobstown investigation. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Solidarity has seen a spike in interest after Jobstown but competition on the left is fierce

Fianna Fail party leader Micheál Martin: said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar may have prejudiced other trials and the verdicts in the cases were a vindication of the courts process. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Martin describes Leo Varadkar’s ‘Prime Time’ comments as ‘ill-judged’ and ‘not fair’

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin  said the Taoiseach’s comments in relation to gardai were unfair. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

GRA admits there is a problem with Garda credibility but not with front line officers

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will next week deliver the Government’s summer economic statement, likely to contain an update on the fiscal space for next year.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Fiscal space for spending and tax cuts understood to grow after talks with Europe

Scottish foreign and cultural affairs minister Fiona Hyslop attending a British Irish Chamber of Commerce discussion on cross-channel cooperation this week.

Scottish foreign minister frustrated at nation’s lack of input into Brexit process

Catherine Noone is chair of the Oireachtas committee debating changes to Ireland’s abortion laws. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Noone rejects Solidarity-PBP charges as ‘absurd’ as relations deteriorate in group

As part of its support for the IRFU’s bid to host the 2023 World Cup, the Government has committed to underwriting the costs of staging the tournament. File photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Legislation will empower Government to underwrite €320m costs of tournament

The Bill will replace the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board and create a new lay-dominated commission that will propose names to the Government for appointment to the judiciary

Vote set to take place on controversial judicial appointments Bill on Thursday

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (centre) and his wife Sophie Grégoire are greeted at Dublin Castle by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Inside Politics: Taoiseach and Canadian PMdefend Ceta trade agreement between Canada and EU

Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Agreement paves the way for pay-by-weight regime to be extended to all householders

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: said the Government acknowledged there was a concern about a massive hike in charges under the new waste charges system.  Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Price regulation measures will be introduced if deemed necessary, says Taoiseach

The Labour Party has warned that the new system would open the door for ‘price gouging’ by waste companies. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Plans to end flat charges and introduce pay-by-weight system to be challenged in Dáil

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau with his son Hadrien and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in Ottawa boarding a plane for Dublin on Monday. Photograph: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP

Canadian prime minister to attend official dinner and stay in Farmleigh House

Solidarity TDs Paul Murphy and Ruth Coppinger, Cllr Michael Murphy and TD Mick Barry at a press conference in Dublin on Friday. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Radical left’s moment has passed despite attention-seeking populism

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five others had faced charges of the false imprisonment of former tánaiste Joan Burton (above) and her then assistant, Karen O’Connell, during a water charges protest on November 15th, 20142014. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Solidarity TDs had alleged Garda ‘stitch-up’ had led to the prosecutions being brought

  Citizens’ Assembly: TDs must decide if they should  frame a referendum which would permit the general availability of abortion along the lines of the assembly’s recommendations, or   offer the public a more restrictive regime. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Many anti-abortion campaigners believe a vote for complete liberalisation would not pass

Brian Crowley: His MEP substitute Kieran Hartley has called on  Micheál Martin to take action on his absenteeism. Photograph:  Mark Kelleher

Brian Crowley has not attended parliament since re-election in 2014 due to ill health

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is welcomed by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to the National Economic Dialogue at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Taoiseach’s hints about budget giveaways laced with caution

Brian Crowley MEP at the 75th Fianna Fáil ardfheis in early 2014. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Kieran Hartley writes to FF chief over lack of representation in European Parliament

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has thundered against “cronyism” everywhere in Irish life, but sees it as an especially pervasive influence in the appointment of judges. Photograph: Maxwell’s

Minister for Transport has expended much of his political capital on a niche issue

The Government is pressing ahead with the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill despite the opposition of the most senior judges in the State. File photograph: iStock

Government pressing ahead with Bill despite opposition of the most senior judges

“I am not saying I am open to amendments but I will be listening to the concerns of TDs,” Mr Flanagan said. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Minister for Justice known to have some reservations about proposed new system

“There is ongoing public concern about the investigation and prosecution of white collar crime.” Photograph: Getty Images

New law to grant immunity to whistleblowers could form part of package

Political gamble: Máire Whelan is formally appointed to the Court of Appeal by President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Pat Leahy: Leo Varadkar has to break the mould to emulate Blair and Macron

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  with Theresa May and Mark Rutte from the Netherlands at the European Council meeting in Brussels.Photograph:   Peter Cavanagh

New Taoiseach details meetings he had in Brussels with various European leaders

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