Members of the Independent Alliance at Buswells Hotel yesterday: Shane Ross, Deirdre O’Donovan, Paul Gogarty, Tony Murphy, John Halligan, Marie Casserly, Feargal Quinn and Finian McGrath. Photograph: Cyril Byrne.

The Independent Alliance wanted to nail down the unstable door before the horse bolted

Micheál Martin: Doggedly insisted  he’s still in the fight for the top job. He says he’ll be putting his name forward for taoiseach, when the time comes. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

If FF leader was in our faces any more than he is now he would face headbutting charges

High and mighty: Caroline Conroy, Ciaran Cuffe and Green party leader Eamon Ryan outline their transport plans for Dublin on an open-top bus, which was 40 minutes late. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Social Democrats launch in a whiskey museum, while Greens strangely choose a red bus

 Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, with Mary Lou McDonald TD and Cllr Rose Conway Walsh at the launch of Sinn Féin’s election manifesto in the Royal Irish Academy in  Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Gangland killings have shifted election focus away from where Sinn Féin wants it

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Emma Blain and her baby Matilda Macken at Airfield, Dundrum. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Some Dundrum mothers were not impressed at being asked to pipe down during the event

A sideways look at the election campaign

Labour leader Joan Burton and others arrive for the formal launch of the Labour Party  campaign held at the Bord Gáis Theatre, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Whatever about the letters, the Shinners had the fiscal space maths correct

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin talks  to butcher Ben Flynn while canvassing with local candidate Mary Butler in Waterford.  Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

After talking at length about polls, Fianna Fáil leader refuses to talk about polls

Taoiseach  Enda Kenny at the launch of the Fine Gael general election campaign  at the Alexander Hotel, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Opposition leaders knocked for six by the wash churning in Kenny’s wake

Dinny McGinley TD and Robert Dowds TD who are set to retire. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Miriam Lord: ‘Don’t make unnecessary promises,’ Teresa Mannion could shout as election looms

Tánaiste Joan Burton addresses the Labour Party conference: overall, her muted message suited the bland and unthreatening conference slogan: “Standing up for Ireland’s future.” Photograph: Aidan Crawley.

Heavy security but no hint of the ‘forest of placards’ predicted by Gilmore five years ago

Eamon Gilmore engages in traditional Colombian dance during a visit to Caloto by the EU envoy to the country’s peace process. Photograph: Christian Escobar Mora/EPA

A gasp-inducing poster, Eamon Gilmore dances while Enda Kenny orbits on campaign

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. File photograph: Eric Luke

Fianna Fáil leader stutters in the Dáil but there’s no sign of dissolving from Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: theatrical wink towards Dáil press gallery. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins

‘The telescope is beginning to shorten,’ Enda Kenny tells House

 DrJames Reilly, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, at  Fine Gael’s 78th ardfheis, at Citywest Hotel, Dublin. “The only way we can win this election is by telling our story - over and over and over again,” he declared.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Deputy leader James Reilly tries to persuade party he is on to a winning story

Enda Kenny was told by Nobel prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz that “among the countries that had austerity, you did the best”

Taoiseach hits the Davos road with Nobel prizewinning US economist Joseph Stiglitz

Fianna Fáil Senator Mary White. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Giddy politicians are getting more and more difficult to control in dying days of this Dáil

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly: said  that if John Delaney wanted the people of Tipperary to vote for him, that was fine. But to say he was “actively canvassing” would be stretching it. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Anger as TDs are convinced FAI’s John Delaney was canvassing for his pal Alan Kelly

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Chris Wall arrives at the Requiem Mass of PJ Mara at St Mary’s Church, Haddington Road, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

Political, media and business figures bid farewell to FF’s ‘showtime’ spin doctor

PJ Mara and  Charles Haughey: Mara’s star was inextricably linked to the fortunes of the former taoiseach – political and otherwise. Photograph: Maxwell’s

The FF strategist gave the impression he found the whole political thing a bit of a lark

It’s a fierce big job, sorting out the flooding, the Taoiseach explained to Dáil. “The answer to the problem is multi-faceted.” Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Taoiseach floats on as Opposition attempts to bog him down in Shannon’s murky waters

Tánaiste Joan Burton displays awesome power and artistry when she executes a flawless dive from a small kayak into raging floodwater in Kilkenny before rapidly scrambling to dry land. Photograph:  Dylan Vaughan

FF are shaken, not stirred, by 007 O’Dea while FG cobble a government together

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny  and Tánaiste Joan Burton with Ministers in the courtyard at Dublin Castle for the results of the referendum on same-sex marriage. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The year saw same-sex marriage vote pass while Coalition began to consider divorce

John Perry: Leinster House veterans thought he was wasting his time on what could have been a catastrophically-expensive frolic. Photograph: Courtpix

Why John Perry shall go to the ball . . . or to the general election with Fine Gael

Simon Harris, Minister of the year: he’s been impressively combatant, competent and confident all year. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Harris may be only about 14, but he has performed with a maturity on difficult issues

 Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams: his fabled trip to Manhattan for medical treatment got another run-out.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dáil Sketch: Sinn Féin’s health strategy gets a laugh, but there’s time for serious issues

Enda Kenny: The Taoiseach  said that sometimes the experts don’t always get it right. ‘A lot of older people have great experience of drainage patterns,’ he mused.

Dáil sketch: No more news on the election but prepare to count calories in New Year

FF headquarters will be delighted to hear that O’Dea is mixing with the Rolls-Royce set. Photograph: Alan Betson/ The Irish Times

TD fails to secure Leinster House car parking place despite rolling up in Rolls-Royce

Independent TD Peter Mathews: feeling the pain of the Dáil sole trader. Photograph: David Sleator

TDs watch in disbelief as serial interrupter fails to get ejected by Ceann Comhairle

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin  and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the annual turning on of the christmas tree lights in Leinster House. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Kenny and Martin put those pesky political differences aside in pursuit of festive cheer

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and Alex White, Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, with party colleagues at a Labour event during the week. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Birthday bash for Kevin Bakhurst makes big news at RTÉ, while price of carpet is soft issue

Taoiseach Enda Kenny:  “Just because an election is on the way doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a rash of endless promises that cannot be met,” he said without the hint of a smirk. Photograph: Etienne Laurent/EPA

Dáil sketch: After years of short rations, the lid is off the national biscuit tin

Double act: “Put ’em up! Put ’em up! Just you and me, Enda! Mano a mano.”

Struggle in the interest of democracy and goes to . . . ‘heart of democratic revolution’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: a sentimental soul who likes tradition. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

Whatever about Christmas, Leinster House is frozen by election speculation

Lucinda Creighton took to the plinth  to demand that the Government publish the advice it was given by the Attorney General, Máire Whelan, on the setting-up of the IBRC commission. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

A quiet week leads to Lucinda Creighton being asked bizarre Hitler question

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: “It’s extraordinary,” he said of Enda Kenny, “the degree to which you don’t engage in debate publicly”.

Dáil sketch: The 31st Dáil is a turkey. Stick a fork in it. It’s done

Princess Anne speaks with jockey AP McCoy after she officially opened the Princess Royal Grandstand during day one of The Open at Cheltenham raceourse, Cheltenham. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA Wire

TD Noel Coonan and Princess Anne have a great chat about horses over dinner

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: sat on his own, shipping dog’s abuse from Micheál Martin and not much better from Gerry Adams during Leaders’ Questions. Photograph: Collins

Gerry Adams rechristened Fine Gael’s famous Five Point Plan the ‘Five Point Scam’

Jimmy Deenihan: “It is abundantly clear that this House stands four square behind the French people in its time of national crisis”

Both Houses of the Oireachtas observe minute’s silence as mark of respect to victims of attacks in Paris

Jerry Beades: “There’s a lot of unanswered questions.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Shock and tears as 20 Senators and TDs fail to remember their own names for ballot

Backbenchers took noisy umbrage on Enda Kenny’s  behalf. Photograph: Eric Luke

It appears Enda put in some temporary partitions between himself and the Minister

At teatime on Tuesday, at a special ceremony in Dublin Castle, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald (left) and Tánaiste Joan Burton (right) signed the commencement order and regulations for the Marriage Act 2015. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images

Frances Fitzgerald and Joan Burton fire starting gun for same-sex marital sprint

Gráinne Maguire: encouraged her fellow countrywomen to tweet details of their menstrual cycle to the Taoiseach

Comedian thinks the Taoiseach should know the full story about women’s bits

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: He said he would like to find out who was responsible for leaving a 91-year-old man on a trolley for so long.  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Does Noonan say ‘I told you so’ every time he bumps into the Taoiseach in the corridor?

“Step away from the ATM out of that, now”: is it Jack or is it Enda? Kiefer Sutherland in 24

Miriam Lord: Like a double episode of 24, our superhero had to act fast to avert disaster

Businessman Denis O’Brien: he told a  Q&A session in Jamaica: “We’re all good at something. I know what I’m bad at. I’m not great at HR , for example – it’s too much touchy-feely nonsense.”  File photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty Images

At a special event in Jamaica, the visionary businessman finally spilled the beans

Nice try: Don’t mess with Mr Quinn. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

‘It would have done the Argies proud, the way they ploughed into us,’ says Labour stalwart

Micheál Martin: worried about the “overarching” influence of the army council. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Enda and Micheál stand together as Sinn Féin fumes

The funeral of Tara Gilbert, her partner Willy Lynch, their children Jodie and Kelsey and Willy’s brother Jimmy in the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer, Bray, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

While this was very much a Travellers’ funeral, many others paid their respects

Minister of State  Dara Murphy: he beat Senator Colm Burke by a narrow margin (188 votes to 172) at the recent convention. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dara Murphy ally prompts walk-out by threatening to sue Senator Burke for slander

The State Funeral of Garda Anthony (Tony) Golden, at St Oliver Plunkett Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Into the enveloping silence, the band played the funeral march for Garda Tony Golden

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Having dragged Ireland back from the cliff, Kenny stopped for a rest at a fork in the road

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin  before the budget announcement yesterday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Budget 2016: Noonan finds Ireland’s ‘lost purse’ and begins spending again

‘You go from meeting to meeting and end up grazing’: Well, Oireachtas dining has come a long way. Chips and the full Irish can sti(...)

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton at the launch of local authority plans for the Ireland 2016 Centenary programme at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Near-hysteria grips Leinster House as announcement of election date is awaited

Joan believes Enda is referring to the date of the general election. But then again, Joan is a martyr to the prolixity. It’s no surprise that these discussions go on for some time.  Photograph: RollingNews.ie

Joan Burton expects general election to happen in 2016

Enda Kenny: suddenly, Enda has come over all coy. He had been happy to state his measure. Now, he doesn’t know how to say “when”. In Leinster House, people are puzzled. Photograph: Bloomberg

Sudden retreat from position of certainty on general election triggers fevered speculation

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin  and  Minister for Finance Michael Noonan speaking to media after the publication of exchequer returns at the Department of Finance. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Ministers will be on message from now until the general election, so get used to it

The Longboat Quay apartment complex in Dublin’s docklands, built by Bernard McNamara. Residents  face a possible evacuation or a  bill of €4 million for fire safety works in the building. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Mary Lou McDonald in fine form as she takes Taoiseach to task about Longboat Quay

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton at Heuston station: “They gathered up all the shiny things they gave the country over the last four years and made a big deal of handing them over again.” Photograph: The Irish Times

Recycled and rewarmed capital plan arrives from sidings in time for election campaign

Where’s Willie? is doing the rounds of colleges and universities this month as part of Ógra’s national recruitment drive. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fianna Fáil’s new game drums up great interest as party meets its match in Seanad

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with newsreader Marita Kelly, from Cappoquin, Co Waterford, whose photograph appears in the Macra na Feirme ‘Cheeky’ charity calendar. Photograph: Eric Luke

Kenny gets close to calendar-girl newsreader while Coveney cosies up to winsome piglet

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Confidence? No confidence? Actually, it was a motion of no consequence. And everyone in Leinster House knew it. Photograph: Eric Luke

The Fennelly report was quickly ditched by all speakers in favour of election speeches

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan  and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the Fine Gael think-in in Adare, Co Limerick, where the party hoped to break the Curse of the Challenge of the Upturn. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The best feet put forward at think-ins were first steps in Coalition’s journey to polling day

 The State funeral of Thomas Kent at St Nicholas Church, Castlelyons, Co Cork. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

1916 centenary beckons: ‘They really couldn’t ignore the last man shot outside Dublin’

Ruairí Quinn: The former Labour leader was the star of the show, casually mentioning to all and sundry that he’s off to see the pope this week with fellow European environment ministers.

The former Labour leader’s farewell speech moves the think-in audience to tears

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin speaking at the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party think-in at the Marine Hotel, Sutton, Co Dublin, with (from left): Dara Calleary TD, Cllr Darragh O’Brien, Timmy Dooley TD, Colm Keaveney TD and Brendan Smith TD. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Without the two councillors, Fianna Fáil think-in is a sadly fisticuffs-free affair

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the second day of Fine Gael’s parliamentary party meeting in Adare. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Fine Gael has juicy carrot to wave under electorate’s noses ahead of general election

Just like that: Taoiseach Enda Kenny with party colleagues at the FG think-in at The Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare Co Limerick. Photograph: The Irish Times

They’re banging the drum, all thoughts of sleeveen politics simply banished for now

Former minister for finance Charlie McCreevy: medal for bravery awarded for exceptional courage and resolve in the face of debilitating bubble-blindness. Photograph: AP Photo/ Thierry Charlier

And the three degrees award goes to: Ruairí Quinn, Pat Rabbitte and Eamon Gilmore

Ethna Tinney, former independent non-executive director at EBS arriving at the banking inquiry. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Ethna Tinney’s account of the EBS at the inquiry was depressing but very recognisable

Senator Marc MacSharry. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

While the Government was away from Kildare Street, the seagulls attempted a coup

Pat Rabbitte: Landed several blows that winded the windy Senator Marc Mac Sharry. Photograph: The Irish Times

Senator Marc Mac Sharry attempted to grab the inquiry spotlight – but missed his mark

Taoiseach Enda Kenny meeting Edward Walsh and family (owners of Lissadell House and Gardens) on arrival for a Cabinet meeting at Lissadell House, Sligo. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

No sign of Coalition chums getting carried away – they’ll leave that until the election

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern being interviewed by Miriam O Callaghan on RTÉ radio

People have persisted in saying most awful things about our poor departed ex-taoiseach

Lissadell House in Sligo, a fine place for a Cabinet retreat. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Meanwhile, water charges protests outside Leinster House are a bit of a damp squib

 Bertie Ahern arriving for the Public accounts Committee meeting at Leinster House this afternoon. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A unique brand of militant humility delivered at banking inquiry with the smiling detachment of an ordinary Joe

Stephen Donnelly, Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall at the launch of their new political party Social Democrats, at Wood Quay, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

‘Today we are reaching up and grabbing a rung and pulling it back down – to the people’

German president Joachim Gauck paid a quick visit to the Dáil on Tuesday

Distinguished visitor treated to not very much happening in our national chamber

Prof John Crown outside Leinster House. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Prof John Crown advises on best course of action when suffering from Seanad reform

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

‘Picture the scene: the guys in casual slacks, swapping deep thoughts on fiscal matters’

Independent TD Mick Wallace’s misgivings were seized upon by the two main Opposition leaders. Photograph: Eric Luke

Taoiseach recites Government’s latest reworking of Ode to a Grecian About Turn

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen at Leinster House for his appearance before the Oireachtas banking inquiry. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Former taoiseach dismisses ‘mythology’ about party’s tent at Galway Races

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen speaks to the media as he arrives for his appearance before the Oireachtas banking inquiry at Leinster House on Thursday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

‘Front-line folk are useful, when an urgent need arises to throw bodies under the bus’

Charlie McCreevy “must have been taking lessons from Pee Flynn. On and on he went about the wonderful works he had wrought.” File photograph:   Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Where corridors are wider for inflated egos, ex-finance minister in a class of his own

“We want Jack!” roared the enormous crowd. They had sweated in the June heat for hours and it wasn’t to see preening ministers and councillors.

On the world stage, our players did us proud, the supporters did us proud, we did ourselves proud

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and president Gerry Adams.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Sinn Féin leader amused by Government reaction during exchanges on water Bill

 Former British government minister Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe, seen with Senator Ronan Mullen,  was given a rousing reception by more than 500 guests in the Round Room of the Mansion House. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Former Tory minister is special guest at Ceiliúradh Cois Life

Minister for   Arts Heather Humphreys: Recited what we understand was a rather earthy and bawdy poem about men. Photograph:  Cyril Byrne

Humphreys lets hair down with female staff and party colleagues at mid-summer bash

EU commissioner Phil Hogan: “I cannot get satisfaction from the Greek authorities or even get replies to letters sent since last Christmas.” Photograph: Patrick Bolger

EU commissioner pays first official visit to Oireachtas since his elevation to EU post

Gerry Adams: Gerry Adams hissed like a burnt pot. He was steaming about that Nama kettle. Photograph: The Irish Times

Hissing Adams steams into bubbling Nama saga but swerves party strains in Rebel County

Family and friends carry the remains of Eoghan Culligan , who died tragically in a balcony collapse in Berkeley, California in through students from St Marys College guard of honour before the funeral Mass at the Church of the Annunciation in Rathfarnham. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Calamity of young lives cut down in their prime has touched this grieving nation

 Ciarán Cannon and fellow TDs Paul Connaughton,  Colm Keaveney and Micheal Kitt found themselves lost for words on Vincent Browne’s People’s Debate when asked wether they would support a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Photograph: Eric Luke

The Fearless Four were left sweating on Vincent Browne when put on the spot

 Former department of finance secretary-general Kevin Cardiff arriving at the Oireachtas banking inquiry in Leinster House yesterday. Photograh: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Former senior civil servant tells Joe Higgins he’s now more a socialist than he used to be

Tánaiste Joan Burton:  “I know what the J-1 experience is meant to be, a rite of passage, an opportunity to gain valuable life and cultural experience  . . . for a lot of young people, it is a summer of love and a summer of fun.”   Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

‘Do we not see the faces of our own sons and daughters as they start the great adventure of life for young people?’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: reiterated the independence of Nama and the presence of a good oversight mechanism.  Photograph: Etienne Laurent/ EPA

Dáil sketch: Enda is not afraid of the vultures coming to attack him in the dead of night

Marie Louise O’Donnell: as her six guests looked on, McGrath allegedly accused O’Donnell (who has a long-running weekly radio slot on RTÉ’s ‘Today with Seán O’Rourke’ programme) of “double-jobbing” and taking the bread from the mouths of working journalists

Senator eats McGrath alive over his ‘outrageous’ behaviour in Oireachtas restaurant

’Bruton the Younger proved himself an adequate substitute for his party leader.’ Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Richard Bruton proves an adequate substitute for his party leader

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