President Michael D Higgins:  Central to what he describes as his “presidency of ideas” is a desire to challenge, to provoke, to question assumptions and orthodoxies. Photograph: Frank Miller

The role of president is rich in ambiguity. The Constitution lays down some things the holder of the office must do (appoint the taoiseach and governm(...)

Students from Stratford College, Dublin; Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ, Limerick; Coláiste Dhúlaigh, Dublin; and Newtown School, Waterford, read  out the Scroll of Names at the Holocaust Memorial Day. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Parallels can be drawn between European states’ failure to offer sanctuary to Jews during the Holocaust and the refugee crisis facing the continent to(...)

Linda Ervine, who was responsible for bringing the Irish language in to loyalist east Belfast: “As long as it’s used as a weapon, the language has no future. But as a bridge it has a bright future.” Photograph: Arthur Allison

The most impressive politician I met in 2015 was Julie-Anne Corr Johnston, a 28-year-old member of Belfast City Council, representing the small left-(...)

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and First Minister Peter Robinson: together they “oversaw the devolution of policing and justice powers”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Northern Ireland’s outgoing First Minister Peter Robinson has been shortlisted for this year’s Tipperary International Peace Award. The citation hail(...)

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams: “Do I think judges can’t make mistakes? No I don’t.” Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has declined to say whether he agrees with his party leader’s comments on Thomas “Slab” Murphy being(...)

Former president Mary Robinson speaking at the symposium hosted by Charlie Flanagan TD, with Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary General. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

The murder of more than 250,000 Syrians could have been prevented if the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council had acted more (...)

French foreign affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, president-designate of COP21,  on a giant screen as he speaks at the final session at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 12th, 2015. Photograph: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

As the Paris COP21 accord with its unprecedented collective global response to climate change was being ratified on Saturday evening, it was inevitabl(...)

A proposal has been advanced that would involve building a housing estate in an area like Knocknacarra – formerly a gaeltacht – to accommodate families who use Irish daily. Photograph: The Irish Times

One of the last fluent native speakers in the Galway city Gaeltacht of Mionlach believes that Irish has just 10 years left as a community language. L(...)

Peter Sutherland: ‘Countries can share Syrian refugees or choose from three options: leave them on the beaches,  lock them in camps or send them back to the hell they’ve escaped.’

In the shadowy, wood-lined study of his London home, Peter Sutherland’s oval face drifts in and out of the pool of light cast by a green desk lamp. H(...)

Mary Robinson and Kofi Annan: busy day on December 17th. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Thursday the 17th will be a busy day for former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan and former president of Ireland Mary Robinson. In the ev(...)