‘We always expected that the No campaign would go negative and go nasty at some stage before May 22nd. This week, however, they erected posters that suggest they are prepared to go nasty early.’

Sometimes an issue compels me to get up from the comfort of the pundit’s armchair and get into the campaign arena. Marriage equality is such an issue (...)

Senator Katherine Zappone and Senator Feargal Quinn at the press conference in 2012 to launch  the consultation process on the Seanad Reform Bill. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

One of the reasons the 2013 referendum to abolish the Seanad was defeated was that those of us in Democracy Matters, the civic society group campaigni(...)

John Martin of The Land League speaking to members of the media, at the entrance to Gorse Hill, the home of the O’Donnell family, at the Vico Road , Dalkey. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Government politicians and advisers will no doubt have enjoyed some down time over the Easter break. They will have savoured their recent bounce in th(...)

Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil giving the presidential address at the end of the ard fheis in 2012. Political scientist Tim Bale addressed that ard fheis and suggested lessons the party could learn from the Tories. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

In March 2012 Fianna Fáil invited leading UK political scientist Tim Bale to address its ardfheis. Bale had just published a book entitled The Conserv(...)

‘Fine Gael has had its national conference since the last Ipsos/MRBI poll and that gave them the opportunity to road-test some of their key lines for the next election.’ Above: the Fine Gael national conference earlier this year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The 5 per cent surge for Fine Gael in this week’s Irish Times Ipsos/MRBI poll is significant. It is significant in quantum, it is significant in its t(...)

‘Niall O’Dowd’s reminder and characterisation of Adams’s centrality to the peace process certainly served the interests of Sinn Féin, especially in the week that’s in it. There was no mention from the podiums in New York, or it seems the following day in Washington, of Adams’s recent troubles arising from how his party and the IRA responded to reports of child abuse.’ O’Dowd made his comments at the  Irish America Hall of Fame in New York, on Monday, at which former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke. Photograph:  EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT

At an annual St Patrick’s week lunch in New York this week at which Hillary Clinton was inducted into the Irish America Magazine’s hall of fame, publi(...)

‘Having carefully framed their terms of reference, the inquiry’s chairman Ciarán Lynch TD and his colleagues have settled down in their first module to a careful consideration of the context in which the banking and fiscal crisis arose.’  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

For a while now I had been meaning to look in on the banking inquiry. It was only earlier this week that I finally got around to watching it on the Oi(...)

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

In the past few weeks we have seen a shrewd and careful attempt by the senior Government party to frame the political context for the next election. H(...)

‘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

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 impris(...)

‘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

It was fascinating this week to hear two of Fianna Fáil’s most mild-mannered men provoked to emotional engagement in the debate around family, rela(...)