Simon Harris told the Fine Gael national conference: “We’ve fixed the Irish car, we’ve taken it out of the ditch, we’ve put it on the road, Now we’re ready for the next part of the journey. The last thing we can afford is to give the car back to the people who crashed it.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Fine Gael strategy is to warn of instability and step up attacks on Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin

‘Anyone listening to some of the media coverage and political rhetoric in the last week would be forgiven for thinking that the courts have been imprisoning people for protesting against water charges and water metering. This is simply not the case.’ Above, protesters march from Central Bank, Dublin, to Mountjoy Prison on February 21st,  over the imprisonment of  water charges demonstrators. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

‘When suggestions first arose that some water protesters were intimidating water-meter installers it was dismissed as establishmen(...)

‘The media coverage surrounding Pat Carey arose because he had expressed reservations about Fianna Fáil’s state of readiness for the forthcoming marriage equality campaign. By going public with his own story he has made a significant and timely intervention into that national debate.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

We need more passionate contributions, like those of Pat Carey and Seán Fleming

‘Incumbent centre-right governments across Europe know that facilitating a positive outcome for the new Greek government will not assist their own prospects of re-election.’ Above, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel welcomes Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ahead of a meeting in Brussels on February 12th. Photograph: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

‘The response of EU governments to new Greek government has as much to do with politics as economics’

One of the changes most often sought by those campaigning for political reform is for all future ceann comhairles to be elected by a secret ballot of TDs.  Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

This Government should change Dáil rules as part of political reform plan

‘These protests directed at the President also show a complete lack of understanding of the powers and function of his office. The only role which the President has in considering legislation is to assess, with the advice of the Council of State if he wishes, whether the Bill is constitutional.’ Photograph:  Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘Play ball, rather than the man’ rule would be a good starting point for greater civility

‘The Irish have come a long way in a short time in our attitude towards homosexuality. The scale of this shift in attitude was reflected in the warmth of the response to Varadkar’s interview.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

‘People ask whether Varadkar will lead Fine Gael and I offer the view that he probably will’

In the 2011 Dáil election 328 candidates qualified for reimbursement of election expenses, including the 166 TDs elected. Photograph: Alan Betson

Political scientists estimate sitting TDs and Senators enjoyed significant electoral advantage even before State funding

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