“My cautious assessment is that there is a strong majority now for abortion in circumstances of fatal foetal abnormality or where the pregnancy is as a result of rape or incest.” File photograph: iStockPhoto

No reason why vote could not be held in late February or early March next year

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers his first general election campaign speech in London on April 20th. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Theresa May undermines British democracy by announcing a vote with no real choice

A Sinn Féin leadership change to Mary Lou McDonald is likely to significantly improve the party’s  position. Photograph: Alan Betson

Noel Whelan: new leaders of FG or SF only things likely to shake up Dáil make-up

The fact  the British government and various EU institutions have acknowledged their responsibility to protect the Belfast Agreement in the Brexit talks is welcome, but it is now time to focus on how that can best be done

We should insist on bilateral talks on Brexit’s implications for the agreement

A protester in London holds an effigy of Britain’s prime minister Theresa May during an anti-Brexit demonstration in London, England. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Irish frustration must be channelled towards getting the best outcome in EU negotiations

DUP leader Arlene Foster signs a book of condolence for her late former colleague Martin McGuinness at Stormont on Wednesday. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Noel Whelan: Definitive view of the IRA leader turned politician still to be formed

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks at a St Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Naval Observatory  in Washington, DC, on March 16, 2017.  Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Little substance to announcement 1,265 days after convention’s recommendation

In recent times, mainstream southern politics dared not to speak of Irish unity for fear that to do so would unsettle unionism at delicate moments in the peace process. Illustration: Getty

Frank debate about unity should be pursued without fear of spooking unionists

Fine Gael argues that in order to comply with European law, and avoid  fines, we must at a minimum provide for a charge on the excessive use of water. Photograph: iStock

The Dáil is not free to do as it chooses on water – it has to comply with European law

‘Enda Kenny will be clinging to office for another eight or 10 weeks but will have no power.’ Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

Fine Gael Ministers will be absorbed by the leadership race and not focused on their jobs

 “It is difficult to see how whoever succeeds Enda Kenny could do a worse job of it than he did this week.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Enda Kenny’s rickety relationships all took a hit over his handling of the McCabe scandal

Former Sinn Féin deputy first minister Martin McGuinness.

DUP leader’s Irish language comments exposed the arrogance alleged by Sinn Féin

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with British prime minister Theresa May in Dublin on Monday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

British prime minister’s talk of a ‘frictionless’ Border has already been exposed as a fantasy

Not a single Bill initiated by the Opposition has come close to being enacted by the current Dáil and Seanad

Arguably the only substantial piece of new legislation passed by the Dáil was the Act to tackle the housing and homelessness crisi(...)

EU chief Brexit negotiator  Michel Barnier: It is significant  that there is no express provision in article 50 allowing for  countries actually bordering an  exiting member state to be directly involved in the negotiations. Photograph:  François Lenoir/Reuters/File

Direct input from Dublin is essential as article 50 framework has deep flaws

Theresa May: So far the British prime minister has been unable to decide or communicate what kind of post-Brexit relationship Britain should have with the EU. Photograph: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

It is foolish to wait and see what the UK will do before deciding what is best for Ireland

Nigel Farage: just because the idea that Ireland could leave the European Union came out of his mouth doesn’t mean it is necessarily wrong. Photograph: Vincent Kessler/Reuters

Brexit means our main trading partners, the UK and US, will be outside the EU

‘The Dáil parties and Independent groupings, having lined up in Government and Opposition, are frozen in position for fear that any sudden movement may cause the whole thing to come to an end.’

Politicians and officials speak of unease pending Brexit and the Trump presidency

Claire Foy playing Queen Elizabeth and Matt Smith as Prince Philip in The Crown

The books, movies, podcasts and programmes to get you through the downtime

‘Gerry Adams got himself into his current political difficulty because he was engaged in political handling.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

Adams got caught out while trying to manage the fallout of Austin Stack’s fight for answers

Austin Stack (left) and Oliver Stack, sons of prison officer Brian Stack, in Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

The precedents that illustrate the Sinn Féin leader’s loose relationship with the truth are stacked high and can only damage h(...)

A Right2Water  demonstration in Dublin. Unfounded concerns about privatisation “contributed to the creation of a climate of uncertainty and mistrust”, concludes an expert group. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Experts were given impossible, highly politicised task, making for timid report

Minister for Transport Shane Ross: struggling under the intense scrutiny and weighty responsibility that go with Cabinet membership. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister’s animated spat contrasts with low-energy departmental performance

Donald Trump and  sons Eric  and  Donald Jr attend a “Celebrity Apprentice All Stars” press conference in 2012. The property mogul became a reality TV megastar in 2004 as the ringmaster of “The Apprentice”. Photograph:  Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Above all else, Donald Trump’s shock victory comes down to his massive celebrity

US president-elect Donald Trump – “vulgar, abusive, anti-immigrant, misogynistic and narcissistic, and he has been elected despite this”. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

We can deal with incoming US president without abandoning our self-respect

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit in Dublin on Wednesday. Photograph: Eric Luke

Not clear how ‘all-island forum’ without unionist involvement is supposed to help calm impact of Brexit

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly: her outburst in the Dáil   “undermines the separation between politics and the judiciary”. Photograph: Fergal Phillips

TDs such as Daly and Paul Murphy have same access to redress as all other citizens

Watching the Donald Trump campaign disintegrate is both compelling and disturbing. Photograph: George Frey/Getty Images

Even if defeated, the candidate has ability to damage the US political system even further

Prime Time editors decided they couldn’t and shouldn’t stage a head-to-head budget night-debate between Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath, above, and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. Photograph: Alan Betson

The party wants to negotiate the budget in private and act as Opposition on TV

Perhaps the most significant item to watch out for in the budget is whether Katherine Zappone gets her way on childcare. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

It is clear budget will not be transformative moment in Irish social or economic policy

‘This week we have again seen the political potency of water charges.’

Latest move to abolish charges for good took some members of the party by surprise

Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy. The assault on the C&AG  was  done with all necessary courtesy but there is no hiding however that what NAMA is saying is that the C&AG is not fit for the purpose of assessing NAMA: Frank Miller / THE IRISH TIMES

If watchdog not fit to oversee Nama then somebody or something else will have to

What is Stephen Donnelly up to? He was the driving force behind setting up the new party. He benefited the most - not least from the high profile opportunity of participating in a leaders debate during the election campaign . Picture: Oisin McHugh FusionShooters.

He may well be rewarded for supporting the Government as an independent

Tim Cook’s claim that the European Commission’s findings are ‘total political crap’, and Michael O’Leary’s suggestion that Ireland should tell the commission to ‘F*** off’ are not helping the political situation in Ireland. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

A frank and honest communication of the case for an appeal is needed but unlikely

 Leo Varadkar TD with Fine Gael Dublin Bay South candidate Kate O’Connell in Dublin, as  the party announced their plans to abolish the USC by 2020. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The next 10 weeks will be the first test of ‘new politics’ following its summer slumber

‘Shane Ross should have fully informed himself of his legal and administrative options and the limitations before he left for Rio.’ Above,  Ross watching Michael Conlan’s bout. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

‘Gubu does not do justice to the events surrounding the Olympic Council of Ireland this week’

A man holds an "I Love Trump" sign along the perimeter walls of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif

There will be no clarity on the actual state of the race until after the early September Labour weekend

Theresa May chairs her first Cabinet meeting. There were audible gasps in newsrooms and chancelleries all over the world when May appointed Boris Johnston as her foreign secretary. It seemed entirely illogical. Johnson was politically a busted flush. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/AFP/Getty Images

She has decided the Brexiteers should be beside her taking the flak for their overselling the benefits of leaving the EU

Enda Kenny’s decision to reappoint Senator James Reilly as deputy leader of Fine Gael is one of a number of moves that undermined his position in recent weeks. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Fine Gael would be wise to learn from recent party upheaval in British politics

 Independent Alliance member John Halligan. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

A short-lived but decisive Government is preferable to one that survives by doing little

Enda Kenny leaves  the EU Summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 29, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

Real engagement vital North and South at each and every stage of Brexit process

David Cameron gambled on this referendum uniting his party and enabling Britain to move beyond the European question. Photograph: Getty Images

Brexit: Fertile ground laid for Leave over years of politicians blaming Brussels

‘Whatever the Government Independents do, it seems likely that sufficient Fianna Fáil deputies will exercise their “free vote” in opposition to the Mick Wallace Bill, thereby ensuring that it is defeated.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

No precedent for freedom to oppose legislation which AG says is unconstitutional

Noel Whelan: “The most significant impact of a vote for Brexit would be further dramatic political and economic instability within the EU at what is already a vulnerable time.”

Irish government would be remiss if not making known risks of Brexit for State

File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

With seven weeks to go before summer recess we are unlikely to see any substantial Bills passed

Brendan Howlin, above. “The new Labour party leader is also an effective parliamentary performer and a shrewd tactician.” File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Real test of party’s leadership will be the next election - whenever that comes

The bullet-riddled minibus which had been transporting the 11 Protestant workers who were gunned down as they lined up alongside the vehicle

Nobody has ever been brought to justice for the Kingsmill killings and the families of the dead have run a long campaign to have t(...)

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader  Micheál Martin. File photograph: Maxpix/Julien Behal

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have set a slow pace for the new parliament

Taoiseach Enda Kenny stands in Government Buildings with members of the new Cabinet. Photograph: Merrion Street

‘One wonders why the Government’s media handlers felt the need to engage in this “put the wimmin” up front manoeuvre’

‘Adams has enjoyed an unchallenged tenure at the top of the Sinn Féin of a duration once seen only in newly established African democracies.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Replacing him is a challenging prospect – but his recent gaffes have been a liability

Lynn Ruane, President of Trinity College Students Union with her daughters Jaelynne and Jordanne. “She will be one of the most interesting politicians in the new Oireachtas, irrespective of how long it lasts.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

The most dramatic shift in the line up of the 43 senators on the vocational panels was the Sinn Féin breakthrough

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. “In reality Fianna Fáil will have Enda Kenny’s new government by the proverbials in both the Dáil and the Seanad.” Photograph: Maxpix

The new government will not have working majority in the Seanad if Taoiseach true to the new politics

The former Dún Laoghaire TD Barry Andrews,  who now leads the team at the development aid charity Goal.

A realisation that all is not lost may help the newly elected to focus on the general political good

From left: Independent TDs Boxer Moran Seán Canney, Shane Ross and Micheal Fitzmaurice pictured at government buildings. The suggestion that some of the Independents could be part of a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil dominated government is creative.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Suggestion that some Independents could be part of FG-FF dominated government is creative

People gather for the Easter Rising centenary commemorations  in Smithfield, Dublin. File photograph: Maxwells/PA Wire

Events were dignified, inclusive and reflected the complexity of the Easter Rising

There has been much talk about how either a Fine Gael-only or a Fianna Fáil-only government could happen provided it was allowed rule by the other party. Photographs: The Irish Times

Unstable minority administration would serve only FG and FF and not the country

Maurice Manning: The Manning group’s report has since sat untouched on some shelf in Government Buildings. Setting it up was a cynical exercise in winding down the clock on reform.  Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Precedents do not augur well for real reform

“The issue of whether Enda Kenny’s continued leadership of Fine Gael assists or hinders the prospects of the two parties being in government is a relevant personnel question.” Photograph: Reuters

If negotiations are to succeed then Fine Gael can not rule out Mícheál Martin becoming Taoiseach first

Noel Whelan: The day the election was called was pregnant with damaging scenes and sounds for the Government campaign. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

It is now clear that Fine Gael’s campaign was fixed on a disastrous course

New Green Party TD  Catherine Martin, with party leader  Eamon Ryan, benefited heavily from transfers. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Anlaysis: Although first count results can be overturned, it is still a rare development

Political campaign posters on the  streets of Dublin. / AFP / LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

The party as likely to perform as well in the next election coming out of government as they are from opposition

The Taoiseach and his Ministers claim a necessity to keep them in power to sustain that recovery but the voters know the reasons for Ireland’s rapid emergence from the economic crisis are more complex than claimed. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

FG have applied British Tory script without adapting appropriately to the Irish context

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin at the launch of the party’s advertisement campaign outside Leinster House. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

At this stage, regardless of how you look at it, outgoing government will fall about a dozen seats short of overall majority

John McHale: The role which the Fiscal Advisory Council has played is akin to that which the independent Referendum Commissions played in recent referendum campaigns.Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

McHale is telling the Government that if and when additional money comes along most of it will already be committed to new overhea(...)

Former Independent TD Jackie Healy Rae. File photograph: Peter Thursfield

Independents’ purposes and objectives are more complex than the crude caricatures

Investigative reporter from the ‘Boston Globe’ Spotlight Team Michael Rezendes and actor Mark Ruffalo attend the Boston premiere of ‘Spotlight’. Photograph: Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Open Road

Film tells story of investigation by ‘Boston Globe’ into cover up of clerical sexual abuse

Taoiseach  Enda Kenny. File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

This election is not about choosing who can keep the recovery going because those choices are not made here in Ireland

The Dáil chamber: Photograph: Alan Betson

For almost five years Coalition failed to carry out pre-2011 promise of a “democratic revolution”

A woman cycles past a marriage equality mural in the Liberties area of Dublin, Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Same-sex marriage: referendum didn’t just amend Constitution - it changed lives

Heba Alsharbaty (Mother) , Khilood Jaddoa (Grandmother) of 10 Month Old Yousif Hussein and (Grand father) Fadhil Alsharbaty origionally from Baghdad in Iraq, now living in Rathfarnham during the first of three citizenship ceremonies held at the Convention Centre earlier this year. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Their life stories and their heritage will be part of the narrative of our country’s future

Being a councillor involves so much more than the formal role of contributing to discussions and decisions at council meetings and council sub-committees. It also involves making representations about council services or facilities for their area.

I grew up in a councillor’s home. Our house was the first port of call for many who needed help. Among the typical visitors I reca(...)

Alan Kelly, strongly and emotionally denied that he or any of his staff were responsible for the leak of Labour constituency polls.  Photograph: Aidan Crawley

The task of seeking to divine national political implications or constituency-by-constituency impact of any particular poll is a d(...)

After a month of negotiations a new Fianna Fail-Labour government was formed on January 12th, 1993, 48 days after the election. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Nothing concentrates the minds of politicians like the fear of a further election. Next year will be no different.

FineGael poster from the 2007 general election

The fudged, vague agreement with Labour was this week pushed off into the never never

Eamon Gilmore answering reporters’ questions at a special meeting of the Labour Party. Photograph: Frank Miller

Party will once again warn electorate about dangers of Fine Gael majority government

Same-sex marriage: the campaign knew that voters would warm to parents advocating equality for their own gay and lesbian children. Maureen Gowran appeared with her daughter Sandra Irwin-Gowran (right), of Yes Equality, and her partner, Marion Irwin-Gowran. Photograph: Paul Sharp/Sharppix

Weekend Read: Can you campaign without posters? Should well-known gay people be kept out of sight? What will persuade middle-aged (...)

Shock! Horror! .... Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, wore same suit two days in a row.   Above,   speaking during a citizenship ceremony at the Department. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

There will be a more pronounced female tone to the election debate next year than ever before

Enda Kenny: “The governor told me, it looks like this weekend . . . you’ll have to put the army around the banks and around the ATM machines, and introduce capital controls like they had in Cyprus.” Photograph: Andreas Manolis/Reuters

Comment part of strategy to remind voters of how serious crisis was and Fine Gael’s part in turning it around

 Mary Lou McDonald, Vice-president of Sinn Fein.  The party has long rejected notions that it is controlled from north of the border

Concerns about party being in government in Republic reinforced by report on paramilitary activity

Timing is everything. The impact of the budget will be felt in the New Year.  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

The measures will reassure voters the recession is over

Last winter, Leo Varadkar promised to solve the crisis in hospital emergency departments. Last Christmas, Alan Kelly huffed and puffed about how he was going to tackle homelessness.Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Going early is an admission they failed to address homelessness or hospital overcrowding.

 Trying to spin it both ways

Government ratcheting up the sense that lots of goodies are on their way

Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of Britain’s  Labour Party takes part in his first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons in Westminster, September 16th. Photograph: REUTER/Parliament TV

‘It is as if the Oxbridge university elites, who dominate much of Britain’s political media have determined that Labour is not en(...)

‘The Taoiseach made no comment on Fennelly’s criticism of the failure to record decisions in his statement responding to the report. The Tánaiste also had nothing to say on the point.’ Above, Mr Justice Nial Fennelly. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘Ministerial comments suggest that the record-keeping in government is all very hit-and-miss – and deliberately so’

‘All of the key decisions which led to the situation where Martin Callinan was put under this pressure to retire were made at meetings run by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.’  Photograph: DAVE MEEHAN

The Fennelly report found other witnesses more credible than the Taoiseach on key points

‘This week the government reaction to events in Northern Ireland was initially incoherent, with Frances Fitzgerald sounding more robust, and more political this week than she did last weekend, perhaps because of what Joan Burton and Micheál Martin had to say in between.’  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘We haven’t even begun to have a real election debate about the policy choices. Instead we just seem to be lapsing back into old-s(...)

“We don’t have to talk politics or get too serious,” she said. “I just want to know what’s on your mind”.  Above, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton. Photograph: Michael Appleton/The New York Times

‘You, Hillary, Dinner (Hot Damn!)’ – an email invitation in Texan from the Hillary Clinton presidential nomination campaign

‘The new Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, the Economic Management Council, and the Cabinet  redesigned the project in a way that stripped Irish Water of all its original justification.’  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘This is going to be one of the biggest issues in the general election campaign. Government party candidates on the frontline are (...)

‘After the election the parties simply ignored their pre election commitments. The current Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett (above) was chosen by the then Taoiseach elect Enda Kenny and approved by the Dáil without any vote.’  Photograph: Frank Miller /	THE IRISH TIMES

Dáil reform should start with secret ballot on election of Ceann Comhairle

Róisín Shortall, Catherine Murphy and Stephen Donnelly at yesterday’s launch of the Social Democrats. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Polls show new political party fatigue is already beginning to set in

 At the Fianna Fail manifesto  launch, 2007, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern   and Finance Minister Brian Cowen ...a pre-election auction of tax cuts and spending increases broke out which was even more intense than predicted. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Boom time tax cuts reflected broad consensus

  Taoiseach Enda Kenny – Pondering an election date .... Averaging out its performance in the 17 polls since mid December, Fine Gael is on 25 per cent, a small improvement on how it performed up to December. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Polls suggest Kenny would be better off waiting until spring for election

Photograph: Alan Betson

‘By parking most of their political staff in the Leinster House complex newspapers and broadcasters end up being Dublin-2 -centri(...)

‘The difficult task the consul general and his colleagues do in these days is done on behalf of all of us.’ Above, Philip Grant, consul general of Ireland to the Western United States (right) speaks to the media with Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates following a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of the fourth-storey apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California this week. Photograph: REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

‘The Twitter feed is but one small element of the public effort in which the Consul General Philip Grant and his colleagues engage(...)

‘On Tuesday when the Taoiseach began to tell the Dáil that he has “been a supporter for a very long time of the idea that Dáil questions should be answered as fully and as completely as possible” the Opposition laughed in his face.’ Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

‘This country needs a dramatic culture shift towards real transparency’

‘Not content with systematically seeking to dis Deputy Catherine Murphy, Denis  O’Brien and his spokesperson have also felt it necessary to attack other politicians who sought to defend Murphy’s use of parliamentary privilege.’ Photograph: David Sleator/THE IRISH TIMES

Noel Whelan: ‘The first principles of public relations, it seems is that when your spokesperson becomes the story you’re losing’ (...)

‘I was emotionally overwhelmed by the acknowledgment of my small part in their campaign but I was also deeply distressed by the intensity of their gratitude.’ Above, crowds celebrate in the court yard at Dublin Castle, the Central Results Centre, at the results of the referendum on marriage equality. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

‘Even on the Yes side many of us had, however, failed to appreciate the true extent to which passing this referendum would matter (...)

 Brian Sheehan and Gráinne Healy from Yes Equality campaigning on Dublin’s Grafton Street with Vivian Sheehan from Windy Arbour. Photograph: Sharpix

How the most extensive and effective civic campaign ever seen in Irish politics was built

‘One can also only imagine how much it took for Prince Charles on Tuesday to shake the hand of the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who was such a significant figure in the leadership of the organisation which had killed his beloved Mountbatten.’ Photograph: Adam Gerrard/ WPA Pool/Getty Images

‘While some may breathlessly trumpet Gerry Adams’s magnanimity in shaking the prince’s hand, the real bravery for peace was on the(...)

‘Remember that those impacted by this referendum are real people whose real lives cannot be dismissed by false slogans. They are our brothers, sisters, daughters and sons, our family, our friends.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘They and their families have a real and very human need to be recognised as equal’

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