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

A certain ritual is played out in Westminster every time the house gets a new speaker. The member of parliament who is newly elected as speaker is exp(...)

‘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

Over the generations commentators have often complained of a crisis of incivility in politics. It is an overworked phrase, sometimes used too easily b(...)

‘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

Leo Varadkar’s sexual orientation has been raised with me by a diverse range of people in conversations in recent years. He is one of the small band o(...)

Prime Minister David Cameron says he will only participate in TV election debates if the Greens and perhaps the Scottish National Party are invited to participate. –  Photo.  PA Wire

Unlike us, the British know when their next election is going to be. The lifetime of each Westminster parliament is now fixed by statute and the elect(...)

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

In a piece for a collection of essays in memory of former attorney general the late Rory Brady, recently published by Round Hall, I described politici(...)

‘In their ruling they effectively described the decision to keep the woman alive for the previous two weeks as “a futile exercise which commenced only because of fears held by treating medical specialists of potential legal consequences.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Anyone reading coverage of the recent case concerning a pregnant woman on life support could only be moved to tears by descriptions of the tragedy (...)

‘At or near the top of government there have been some dramatic changes in personnel. We have a different Tánaiste   and a different leader of the Labour Party from this time last year.’    Above, Joan Burton. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

It is difficult to give a title to the political year 2014. The Government no doubt would have hoped for 2014 to be called The Year of Recovery. All t(...)

‘The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll  suggests that the momentum is with the Yes side, this 80 per cent compares to 76 per cent Yes in polls by the same agency last October and 64 per cent Yes in polls by this agency in 2012. If proponents of this constitutional change want to win, however, they should ignore this and all previous polls on the issue.’ Photograph: Getty Images

The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll published last weekend again showed a large majority in favour of the referendum which the Government proposes to hold(...)

‘Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael also know, however, that their vote could shrink below a point where even together they couldn’t form a government. Any doubt Fine Gael may have had about that will have been displaced by yesterday’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.’

The suggestion from Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny this week that the next general election will be a choice for voters between a Fine Gael-led governm(...)

Fiona O’Malley with party president Michael McDowell, Bobby Molloy, PD leader Mary Harney and former leader Des O’Malley blow out the candles on the cake to mark the party’s 20 years in political life at their party HQ  in Dublin. Photograph: David Sleator

The two most interesting precedents for the emergence of a new party in the Irish political system were Clann na Poblachta in July 1946 and the Progre(...)