Firefighters battle flames engulfing a house that was destined as housing for migrants, earlier this month in  Weissach im Tal, Baden-Wuerttemberg state, Germany. There have been over 200 attacks on refugee accomodation this year.  Photograph: EPA/FRIEBE Facing up to the challenge of our generation

German 10-point plan for European refugee policy response based on solidarity

‘Those who bought property in the south east of England before the housing boom are clearly in the best position as they will benefit from all three windfalls.’ Photograph: Getty Images Three key factors make it a good time for Irish people in the UK to return home

‘An interesting question is how these returning migrants are likely to affect the Irish housing market’

‘Beyond use’, reads the headline on the front of the Irish News on October 24th, 2001, after Gen John de Chastelain had witnessed the decommissioning of the Provisional IRA’s arsenal. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Getty Michael McDowell: Abolition of Provisional IRA was never on the cards

IRA could more easily metastasise than wind itself up – that was the greater evil

Senior Republican Bobby Storey (right) listens to PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton  at a debate. “Perhaps most extraordinary is the statement by . . . Hamilton that although the IRA is illegal, its continuing existence has been good for the peace process.”  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire In the North we have learned to live and stagger on in crisis mode

People seem not unduly concerned about prospect of the fall of the house of Stormont

Church should give some rural schools to State

Absence of choice for those who want alternatives to Catholic education is a problem

‘The right to housing would help those who are facing homelessness now and would be a fundamental safeguard against the recurrence of this gravely unacceptable crisis.’ Photograph: Getty Images Why the right to housing should be enshrined in the Irish Constitution

‘The right to housing would help those who are facing homelessness now and would be a fundamental safeguard against the recurrence of this gravely unacceptable crisis’

“After all, we Irish emigrants are disenfranchised, aren’t we?” Photograph: The Irish Times How many ‘home to voters’ were actually entitled to vote?

Turning blind eye may set dangerous precedent for close abortion referendum

‘Mistress America’ director Noah Baumbach and actor Greta Gerwig, who plays entrepreneur Brooke in the film. Photograph: Ryan Pfluger/The New York Times Una Mullally: ‘Mistress America’ reflects fantasy of the self-starter

‘The permanent pensionable job has been gone for some time, but now most things resembling it have disappeared’

Gen Babacar Gaye, the United Nations secretary general’s representative to the Central African Republic: The Senegalese diplomat “tendered his resignation at my request,” UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon told reporters. Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images UN must urgently find a better way to tackle peacekeepers accused of sex abuse

The UN expert report is in stark contrast with a Secretary General’s report earlier this year to the UN General Assembly on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation

Many parents who became involved in the referendum understood the implications of homophobia on their children’s lives for the first time Unsung heroes of marriage equality vote – three months on

‘Many parents who became involved in the referendum understood the implications of homophobia on their children’s lives for the first time’

 Richard Boyd Barrett: ‘We are against the Harbour Company’s plans to build a cruise ship berth that would destroy the unique aspect of the harbour.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times Viewpoint: Cruise ship plan for Dún Laoghaire is not the only way forward

Richard Boyd Barrett: ‘This, in reality, is only a more expensive rehash of the 1989 development plan for bars, restaurants, and shops on the old Mail Boat pier that caused such an outrage that it was quickly abandoned’

Syrian migrants on an overcrowded dinghy try to disembark on the shore of the Greek island of Kos this week. Photograph: EPA/YANNIS KOLESIDIS Fallout from Syrian conflict sweeps across Middle East and Europe

Four million people have fled Syria while 12 million inside the country are in need of humanitarian assistance

‘Not to be outdone Sinn Féin staged its own elaborate re-enactment of the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa, featuring a large group of supporters wearing the uniforms of the Irish Volunteers and carrying replica guns.’ Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA  Stephen Collins: McGuigan killing raises questions about Rising commemorations

‘Both governments have been treading softly on issues such as this for fear of upsetting the delicate balance that has kept the power-sharing administration in the North in place’

‘On Monday, the Government will discontinue this scheme, and with it, one of the most amusing Irish websites, www.heritagecertificate.com’ Diarmaid Ferriter: Last chance to get your certificate of Irish heritage

‘How should we characterise this certificate experiment of the past five years? Crass? Embarrassing? A tacky attempt to try and exploit the success of the digitisation by the National Archives of the Irish census records of 1901 and 1911?’

‘For the Government, the game is to take hold of the ball and, above all, avoid any more train-wrecks like Irish Water’. Cliff Taylor: Here’s the case for a November election

We’re facing an autumn of risk-free government and opportunistic opposition

Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn speaks outside the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle, during his campaign. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Breda O’Brien: Trump and Corbyn tap into electorate’s views

‘How viable is our democracy when despite the proliferation of new parties and old, many Irish people still have no party for which they can vote?’

‘Over the last 15 years, I have gained a black belt in the art of Pretending I’ve Seen The West Wing.’ Martin Sheen as President Bartlett. Photograph: Warner Bros/Getty Images Donald Clarke: A sentimental journey to ‘The West Wing’

Aaron Sorkin’s series is implausible, corny and irony-free . . . and yet I’m still watching

‘If Obama vetoes a resolution of disapproval, it will take 34 senators to override his veto and block the agreement. That means opponents have to find an unlikely 11 more Democrats. Photograph:  REUTERS Patrick Smyth: Obama faces tough battle to get Iran deal through Congress

‘While several of the Republican presidential hopefuls have vowed they would repudiate the deal on day one of their presidency, history would suggest that wiser counsel would prevail’

‘The apparent end-point of “new media” was articulated by digital entrepreneur and “King of Clickbait” Emerson Spartz in an interview in the New Yorker earlier this year.’ Photograph: Getty Images You may not Like this article – if you’re fond of clickbait and ‘popular culture’

‘On current projections we are heading for the worst of both worlds in the next Dáil: a populist government and a populist opposition’

‘Section 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act 2000 is a disgrace and under any circumstances should be repealed.’  Photograph: Getty Images Do we want to discriminate against children based on their religious status?

. . . Or do we want equal school access for all children, baptised or not?

‘In 2015 the average cost of getting a child ready for senior infants (including clothing, footwear, school books, classroom resources and voluntary contributions) is €365.’ Photograph: Getty Images Back to school: parents under pressure as bills loom despite ‘free’ education

‘There is genuine outrage from working parents that despite being in full-time employment they still struggle to make ends meet at back to school time’

‘It is a measure of the cynicism surrounding policing and justice in the North in cases which are politically sensitive or can be made to seem so that speculation is widespread that the matter will never reach court.’ Photograph: Getty Images Eamonn McCann: North justice in the dock after McGuigan killing

Cynicism surrounds policing and judicial system in Northern Ireland

‘Decriminalisation of both the purchasers of sex and the sex workers ensures an environment with better supports and protections for everyone.’ Photograph: Getty Images Head to head: Why the purchase of sex should not be a criminal offence

‘My Twitter feed was full of sex workers from Ireland to Thailand to Kenya to the US celebrating Amnesty’s decision’

‘Every year Ruhama works with more than 300 women in Ireland whose lives have been seriously, and in some cases irreparably, damaged by prostitution.’  Photograph: Getty Images Head to head: Why the purchase of sex should be a criminal offence

Evidence from around the world shows that legalisation of the trade as a whole fails to protect the most vulnerable

Should the purchase of sex be a criminal offence?  Photograph: Getty Images Have your say: Should the purchase of sex be a criminal offence?

Controversy has arisen over Amnesty International recent vote on the issue

‘You don’t really need drink, in fact it’s probably been holding you back.’ Photograph: Getty Images Christine Dwyer Hickey: A sobering thought on drink and an Italian ‘tragedia’

‘What starts out as an adventure becomes a habit, and a well-fed habit can only go one way’

The Old Towers of Ballymun. Photograph: Alan Betson, Irish Times Housing crisis: Ireland needs five to 10 new Ballymuns as soon as possible

‘15,000 to 30,000 apartments (or more) are needed immediately in urban areas to make housing more affordable’

Bentiu, South Sudan. Photograph: Colm Moloney World Humanitarian Day: Time to recall aid workers who lost their lives

A school twinning led Feargal O’Connell to realise he wanted to be an aid worker

‘Merkel, for her part, used Schäuble’s exit plan as a bargaining tool, certain that Tsipras would eventually cave in and get rid of Varoufakis.’ Above,  Wolfgang Schäuble, in Dublin last year. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times A missed opportunity for Greece and the euro zone

‘Politics can make strange bedfellows, but sometimes just for a one-night stand. In the end Varoufakis was overruled by Tsipras and Schäuble was overruled by Merkel’

Police officers  attempt to contain disturbances along the controversial Ardoyne flashpoint area on July 13th, 2015 in Belfast. Photograph:   Charles McQuillan/Getty Images Patsy McGarry: Cost of violence at North parades should be borne by organisers

‘Last month was a reminder of the dark underbelly that can accompany Orange marches and which the Order allows off the leash when it suits’

‘Governments don’t feel compelled to invest in a problem over which there is considerable apathy.’ Photograph: Getty Images The obesity epidemic: why we need an independent agency to tackle it

Ireland should be spending €15-20 million annually on a top-down and bottom-up approach to obesity

‘That German banks wrecked the Irish economy is one of the most persistent legends of the crisis. German bankers lent recklessly to the innocent Irish and then sent in Angela Merkel, the Austerity Queen, to get back their bad investments.’  Photograph:  EPA/Wolfgang Kumm Derek Scally: Don’t blame German banks for the Irish economic crisis

‘German banks were not big lenders to Ireland’s pre-crisis domestic banking sector. British banks, US banks and offshore banks were’

Cork City Hall: given that the city’s governance dates back to the 12th century, it would be an act of folly of historic proportions for the Smiddy committee to recommend amalgamation of the city and county. Photograph: Getty Images. Why Cork should resist attempts to merge councils

Former mayors are right: merger would seal Cork’s fate as a second-tier city

Social media is largely bookended by narcissism and outrage. Opinions fall like rockslides, pebbles pinging you with stupid, reactionary points of view. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto Una Mullally: What are you looking at?

The honeymoon period is over for social media platforms

Luas in Dublin city centre: cars are necessary but too many are bad. Towns designed for cars rather than people don’t work. It is essential we strike the right balance. Photograph: David Sleator Cars: good or bad? It’s not that simple in Dublin city centre

A thriving city centre needs parking spaces and good public transport

‘Girls read more for enjoyment than boys, PISA surveys have found, and in particular, girls read more fiction, which is associated with high performance.’’ Photograph: Getty Images Why do girls outperform boys in the Leaving Cert?

‘Girls read more. They spend more time on homework, and usually spend less time online and playing video games. Boys think they’re too cool for school’

Airbnb staff  offering assistance  outside  special meeting for Airbnb hosts  in Ringsend, Dublin this week. Photograph: Aidan Crawley Cliff Taylor: Airbnb affair shows the pitfalls of special tax relief plans

Trouble in the air: The Government should ignore calls for a whole host of new reliefs ahead of the Budget. They will only lead to more trouble in future

From left, Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys, Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhalaigh, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D Higgins, at the Centenary Commemoration of the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa, at Glasnevin Cemetery. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times Diarmaid Ferriter: How do you prefer our Fenian dead – revered or reviled?

It seems the Government is not interested in historical nuance or debate about what precisely it is commemorating

‘Several studies have found that in countries where buying sex is decriminalised, sex trafficking is more prevalent.’ Photograph: Getty Images It’s a mistake for Amnesty to advocate for the decriminalisation of sex buyers

Amnesty misses opportunity to protect human rights of prostituted individuals

Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath:  has done the party a service by raising the issue at this time as it requires considered internal debate in advance of the election. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons Stephen Collins: Why Fianna Fáil should consider coalition with Fine Gael

‘While Fianna Fáil may win more seats than Sinn Féin it is highly unlikely to get more than Fine Gael’

 A dinghy overcrowded with Syrian migrants approaches a beach on the Greek island of Kos this week after crossing a part of the Aegean sea from Turkey to Greece. Photograph: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images Paul Gillespie: Syria’s civil war sends waves of migrants to Kos and beyond

‘US and British governments were unable to intervene decisively because of hostile public opinion after Iraq and Afghanistan’

“Earlier this month Donald Trump, comedy caricature made inexplicably popular flesh, single-handedly rendered the major general redundant.” Photograph: Reuters Donald Clarke: Time to abolish ‘political correctness’

Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock no longer to play colleges as students just too sensitive

‘The Educational Welfare Service records home-schooled children by age rather than whether they are at primary or secondary level.’ Photograph: Getty Images Breda O’Brien: Let a hundred flowers blossom in home education

There are formidable obstacles to pursuing the Leaving Certificate at home

Indications that the Chinese economy has slowed down after years of strong growth

Attempts to engineer a so-called competitive devaluation could lead to tensions with the US and other major countries

Minister for the Arts, Heather Humphreys launched  discussion document and consultation process.   Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES The Culture 2025 plan poses important questions for the arts in Ireland

Declan McGonagle: ‘A national policy is the State speaking and one of the opportunities here is for whatever is said, and heard, to become part of the DNA of the State’s approach to culture’

Most Discussed