Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. ‘The big winners this time were Sinn Féin, the party most vociferous in its attacks on all aspects of government policy.’ Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

One in three voters bought idea that Ireland is a hellhole in need of radical left policies

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: has shown political grit by refusing to row back on his rejection of Sinn Féin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Some 70% did not vote for hard left - parties must hold nerve at critical juncture

Labour leader Brendan Howlin with party colleagues following his announcement that he would not contest the forthcoming leadership competition. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Labour leader leaves party in better shape than when he took over leadership

Significant differences across the age groups evident on issues

Health, housing and homelessness were by far the most important issues for voters. Only 1 per cent said Brexit was the most important issue for them.

Voters rated housing and health as by far the most important issues by far for them

Data from the Ipsos MRBI exit poll commissioned by the Irish Times, RTÉ and UCD.

Fine Gael won only 15.5% of the votes among the youngest 18-24 age group

At least half the ballot papers cast on Saturday will not be counted beyond the number one. File photograph: Collins

PR-STV, or single transferable vote, is one of most flexible, subtle systems in the world

‘The evasive response of Mary Lou McDonald to questions about the brutal slaying of Paul Quinn put the spotlight on the fundamental reason why Sinn Féin cannot be regarded like any other political party.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Stephen Collins: SF’s strategy shares traits with that of Europe’s far-right parties

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney: must let voters know in no uncertain terms the dangers of a hard Brexit have not gone away. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Health and housing focus may obscure looming threats of Brexit and economics

Seamus Mallon and Charles Haughey during the Fianna Fáil ard fheis in the RDS, Dublin, in November 1995. Photograph: Frank Miller

Former Seanad member fell out with Charles Haughey, had a blazing row with Garret Fitzgerald and felt let down by Bertie Ahern

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: party members could turn on him and back Simon Coveney as leader. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

SF-leaning wing of FF may get rid of Martin, while threats loom for Taoiseach

Election posters for  Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar  and  Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin are seen on a lamppost on Merrion Square in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Stephen Collins: Performance of Greens and Labour will be key to outcome of this election

The bulk of salmon in this country, both smoked and fresh, is imported salmon, which is inferior to the Irish organic product. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Most consumers are unaware the salmon they eat is all farmed, as is sea bass and trout

Phil Hogan: “Dublin, London and Brussels need to be inclusive and careful in addressing the sensitivities of all stakeholders in Northern Ireland.” Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty

Preserving the integrity of the single market remains EU trade commissioner’s top priority

 European commissioner for trade Phil Hogan, at the Merrion Hotel, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

EU commissioner believes British PM will abandon promise not to extend

Salmon farming is a booming industry worldwide but it has actually declined in Ireland over the past decade. Photograph: Getty Images

A staggering level of official incompetence combined with scaremongering has seen Ireland fall far behind Norway and Scotland

A  view of Stormont as cross-party talks to restore the Northern Ireland powersharing government begin, in Belfast. File photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Election proves voters primarily care about getting Northern Ireland working again

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: managed to achieve broad political consensus by framing his 2020 budget on the basis of a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Avoidance of profligacy a fine template for dealing with future corporate tax fall

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Fine Gael won 20.7 per cent of the votes cast in the recent byelections, a drop of one point on its general election performance in the four constituencies. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dramatic increase in support for Greens and significant recovery by Labour

Micheál Martin: He  deserves commendation for not seeking party advantage, which is always the temptation for an opposition leader. Instead he has put the country’s interests first, just as he has done throughout the Brexit saga.  Photograph: Getty Images

Irish nationalism has realised that co-operation rather than conflict is a far better route

The system’s acceptance of insurance fraud is encouraging increased incidents of exaggerated claims and providing ‘an income supplement to the morally challenged’. Photograph: iStock

Utterly disproportionate awards for often trivial injuries have become the norm

Brendan Howlin’s blistering attack on Leo Varadkar at Labour’s party conference was the clearest signal yet that his preference is for a coalition deal with Fianna Fáil after the next election. Photograph: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Party which emerges largest from next election more likely to call shots in coalition

A photograph of a man appearing to read out the latest death threat against the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings. Photograph: Courtesy of the Irish News

Light touch policing has left Cavan-Fermanagh Border in thrall to republican criminals

There are two fundamental obstacles in the way of a united Ireland:  the question of national identity and the question of  how a united Ireland could ever be funded. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

It is essential the Government is clear in rejecting Sinn Féin’s Border poll demand

London street art depicting  British prime minister Boris Johnson and some ministers as the Beatles and Johnson with US president Donald Trump. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga

Bluster made British slow to perceive that EU solidarity bolstered Ireland with power

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and  British prime minister Boris Johnson  during a press conference on the Brexit deal in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: EPA

UK departure saga from EU shows that political compromise a virtue rather than a vice

  Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe:  almost every lobby group and NGO in the country  called for  spending  increases in Budget 2020. Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA

Fine Gael colleagues disappointed over absence of new measures to reduce income tax

British prime minister Boris Johnson’s speech at the Conservative party conference in Manchester was aimed at a British audience not the EU. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Taking emotion out of Brexit proposals, or at least minimising it, will be vital on all sides

 Behind all the passion, principle and political conflict that has brought the UK to its current impasse, there lies some crude political calculations about how the Brexit issue can best be used for political advantage. Photograph: Getty Images

Parnell never reduced Commons to sorry state Tory diehards have dragged it into

A photograph made available by the PSNI shows the scene where an improvised explosive device was discovered during a search operation in the Creggan area of Derry.

Violence in Derry and Border areas a symptom of wider political failure

EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan: Ireland has a far greater interest than any other EU country in a deal that allows trade between the UK and the EU move as freely as possible. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Irishman as trade commissioner has vested interest in easing EU-UK trade

UK prime minister Boris Johnson ‘continues to insist against all the evidence that there is a good chance that leaders attending the next EU summit will agree to abandon the Border backstop and give him a good deal’. Photograph: Julian Simmonds/Getty Images

Expectation that EU will cave in and give Boris Johnson what he wants remains far-fetched

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan “avoids attracting unnecessary attention by foolish publicity stunts or rushing into comment about issues which have nothing to do with his brief”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Justice does a difficult job well and avoids attracting unnecessary attention

British soldiers patrol in Derry on August 15th, 1969, after being deployed to end the Battle of the Bogside. Photograph: Independent News and Media/Getty Images

Then taoiseach’s courage and political skill avoided a disastrous civil war

“The team around Boris Johnson is boasting of his willingness to cling to office even if the House of Commons passes a motion of no confidence in his leadership.” Photograph: Julian Simmonds/Getty Images

Boris Johnson has made it easier for EU leaders to refuse to budge on Brexit deal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the launch on Thursday of the  redevelopment of the former Smithwick’s brewery site in Kilkenny. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Preparing for the worst will mean no tax cuts and tighter departmental budgets

 Prime minister Boris Johnson at  his first cabinet meeting in  Downing Street. The depressing lesson of history is that it is the patriotic hard-line that is always the easy political option even if it has disastrous consequences for the people of the country involved. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Stephen Collins: Doesn’t matter now what Taoiseach or Tánaiste say about the backstop

Farmers protest outside the Dáil in early July when the Mercosur agreement was announced – under it, the EU agreed to accept 99,000 tonnes of South American beef each year. Photograph: Alan Betson

Uninformed decision on free trade bodes badly for serious looming challenges

A feature of the whole Brexit debacle is the way political rhetoric has propelled all of the main actors into adopting positions that are almost certain to have the opposite effect to the one pursued. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Government and Opposition will have to weigh carefully where national interest lies

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels. Photograph: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/Reuters

Irish strategy was to press Barnier’s claims if the opportunity arose

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter: his combative style and intellect didn’t endear him to many fellow Dáil deputies and the legal profession also had it in for him. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Frenzied reporting helped ensure the former minister was wrongly hounded from office

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe ‘is facing the biggest challenge of his political career’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fine Gael’s reputation hinges on taking measures needed to get spending under control

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan TD with local election candidates at the launch of the Green Party’s local election manifesto in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times

Parties coalescing around Fianna Fáil the most likely outcome after general election

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. The party’s local election vote of 5.6 per cent resulted in a  haul of 49 councillors. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Left-wing alliance could have major say in formation of next government

“Sinn Féin may find the backhanded compliment from [Nigel] Farage unwelcome but it is not the first time the two forces have found common ground.” Photographs: EPA/Getty

No surprise Brexit Party using clips of Mary Lou McDonald speeches at rallies

Queen Silvia of Sweden and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Photograph:  Michael Campanella/WireImage/Getty Images

Swedish ambassador said visit aims to cement relationship between the two countries

TDs of all stripes have supported objections to wind turbines in various parts of the country while backing the continued destruction of our bogs. Photograph: Ben Curtis/PA

Dáil’s hypocrisy on climate change will only add to corrosive cynicism about politics

Sinn Féin has campaigned for a No vote in every EU referendum in the history of this State. The party did back Remain in the UK referendum, but that probably had as much to do with the fact that the DUP was on the other side as anything else

Micheál Martin was right to call out Sinn Féin and a number of Independent candidates as being inherently anti-European

State policies to ensure a relatively fair income distribution have undoubtedly helped to create the success story of modern Ireland. File photograph: David Sleator

Much maligned middle classes deserve credit for progressive tax and welfare system

Some judges have indicated their opposition to the prospect of a substantial reduction in the scale of awards being proposed by the Kearns report.

Judges and lawyers are in denial about compensation culture now out of control

The dilemma facing Emmanuel Macron is that a long extension to the UK departure date will provide an opportunity for further subversion. At the very least it will allow the British political system to engage in endless prevarication. Photograph:  Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

Emmanuel Macron fears subversion of EU just as his predecessor Charles de Gaulle did

A pro-Brexit campaigner demonstrates near the House of Commons. About half of the Conservative Party’s MPs would appear to prefer a no-deal Brexit to the softer one that is likely to emerge from the contacts between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Photograph: Getty Images

Deep split in Theresa May’s party now the biggest obstacle to soft Brexit

“Across the continent a variety of anti-EU parties are on their way to winning more than a third of the seats in the new parliament.” Photograph: Jean-Francois Badias/AP Photo

European Parliament already faces increase of populist forces in next assembly

Members of the Brehon Law Society marching in the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Return to antique rhetoric suggests unionists have no right to live on this island

British prime minister Theresa May in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Stephen Collins: Failure to come together at time of national peril reveals rot in UK politics

Former British prime minister Herbert Asquith wrote in 1914: ‘I have rarely felt more hopeless in any practical affair: an impasse with unspeakable consequences upon a matter which to English eyes seems inconceivably small and to Irish eyes immeasurably big. Isn’t it a real tragedy.’ File photograph: Edward Gooch/Getty Images

EU gives Government cover to compromise on Border issue long overlooked in London

Barbed exchanges in the Dáil between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin have become more frequent in recent months. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Experiment in ‘new politics’ has demonstrably failed

Éamon de Valera and members of his cabinet on December 29th,  1937. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Stephen Collins: Irish leader’s 1927 formula offers a way forward for the UK and EU

Minister for Health Simon Harris. ‘The appalled reaction of the public to the attempted intimidation appeared to have a moderating impact on political debate.’ Photograph: Tom Honan

Appalled reaction to protest outside Simon Harris’s home may offer ray of hope

Senator Frances Black, who championed the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Stephen Collins: The legislation is political posturing that will have costly consequences

Anti-Brexit stickers on a woman’s suitcase in London.  Photograph: Toby Melville

Stephen Collins: Government must maintain a cool head to counter Britain’s delusion

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: drew fallacious comparisons between deprivation in 1919 and the problems facing the State today. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Party dismisses concerns about electoral fraud, rights abuses and corruption

British Labour  leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Stephen Collins: The British party’s left-wing has long had a cynical attitude to Ireland

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has shown himself to be a good friend of Ireland throughout the complex Brexit saga. Photograph: Virginia Mayo/AP

May presents Ireland with chance to bolster a union burdened by populism and Brexit

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin following the renewal of the confidence-and-supply arrangement between his party and Fine Gael. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

European model of left versus right politics is currently in meltdown

John Major in Dublin this week. The fundamentally decent side of British democracy was represented when the former British prime minister travelled to Longford to deliver the Albert Reynolds memorial lecture and also spoke in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan

British public opinion helped persuade UK government to grant our independence

Understandable popular resentment at higher fuel prices has been exploited by an unholy alliance of right and left-wing extremists who went on a rampage in Paris and other French cities which left four people dead, hundreds badly injured and millions of euro worth of property destroyed. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA

Protests over fuel price rises in France provide a salutary lesson for political leaders

 Conservative MP and chair of the European Research Group  Jacob Rees-Mogg: hopefully good relations between Ireland and the UK will relegate him to the margins of history. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas

Irish sneering at UK’s nervous breakdown is offensive and counter-productive

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the  Fine Gael ardfheis. Since he  took over as leader the party has opened up a significant lead over Fianna Fáil in a succession of opinion polls.  Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Returning to the tax-cutting agenda does not appear at first to make sense unless there has been a change of public mood since 201(...)

Theresa May, like Michael Collins, was given an impossible negotiating task. Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

UK prime minister must also sell her deal to a divided cabinet and parliament

Former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev with the hammer and sickle symbol behind him. Photograph: Express

Russian president had furious row with Freddie Boland at UN in October 1960

Seán Lemass and Éamon de Valera: There were serious doubts whether Ireland would be judged economically fit for EEC membership.   Photograph: Paddy Whelan

In reversal of Brexit scenario, State concern was Irish exclusion but UK acceptance in EEC

John F Kennedy’s 1963 visit to Ireland

Letter shows the US president was invited to Ireland soon after his inauguration

Otto Skorzeny: bought a farm in Co Kildare in 1959 and wanted to become a permanent resident here

Papers reveal exchanges between officials and ministers divided over Nazi Otto Skorzeny

Conor Cruise O’Brien in May 1968, when he was editor-in-chief of the ‘Observer’ newspaper. Photograph: Evening Standard/Getty Images

Disastrous intervention in Congo led to former special representative being disowned and criticised

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald:  her “extreme, uncompromising and bullying” manner is useless in Brexit negotiations, says Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Delicate compromise not bullying is key to securing agreement on UK withdrawal

Peter Casey ‘showed during and after the election that he doesn’t know the first thing about politics’. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Stephen Collins: Political maverick is likely to be forgotten quickly but lessons must be learned

In the RTÉ/Red C poll Peter Casey easily outscored the other presidential election candidates on “the ability to stand up for ordinary people”. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Late surge in support tapped into segment of Irish electorate prepared to rebel regularly

Theresa May’s crab-like movement towards a deal represents the best chance of a benign outcome. Her fall would trigger  chaos in British politics and make the prospect of a no-deal Brexit even more likely. Photograph: EPA

Stephen Collins: Taoiseach’s taunting is hindering May’s chances of getting a good deal

The question became why Fitzgerald, as minister for justice, had not intervened to try and stop this non-existent aggressive stance towards Sgt Maurice McCabe.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Once the opposition and media set off down a false trail her resignation was inevitable

Eamon Ryan insisted the Irish people are ready, willing and able to do their bit on climate change, and he could well be right. Picture Nick Bradshaw

Stephen Collins: Government puts self-interest over national interest on carbon tax

Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan: on the night of the bank guarantee the  options were grim. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Main political parties have paid a high price for doing the right thing

“A majority of RIC men were Catholics like their fellow countrymen and they probably had the same range of political opinions.”

No formal acknowledgement of sacrifice made by RIC and DMP men

While the mood music from Brussels in recent weeks has been good, it is still too early to say whether Theresa May will get the EU to agree to a deal based on the Chequers proposals. Photograph:   Frank Augstein/Pool via Reuters

Stephen Collins: Both sides are reluctant to accept assurances without precise legal backing

Far from demonstrating the poverty of rural Ireland, the decline in the use of post offices in villages and small towns reflects the fact that so many people living in the countryside are affluent enough to travel to big urban centres or modern supermarkets on the outskirts of towns to do their shopping. File photograph:  Colin Keegan/Collins

Painting changes in lifestyle as rural neglect could lead to wrong policy decisions

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe launching  Ireland’s Corporate Tax Roadmap at Government Buildings yesterday. The brutal political reality facing Leo Varadkar is that once the budget is out of the way, he will continue in office for only as long as the Opposition decides. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Stephen Collins: Taoiseach knows he is vulnerable once the budget is passed

The response of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris to the eruption of the CervicalCheck controversy has been coloured by Michael Noonan’s fate during the Hepatitis C scandal.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Opportunistic politicians, the media and medical negligence solicitors putting scheme at risk

President Michael D Higgins acknowledges the crowd at Croke Park last weekend. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Stephen Collins: President must balance decorum of office against campaigning

Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Everything is at stake for FG and FF leaders as confidence-and-supply nears its end

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar knows how to remain calm when all about him are consumed by the heat of political battle. File photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Stephen Collins: Ireland needs to remain calm while preparing for the worst

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British prime minister Theresa May on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels last month. Photograph: Yves Herman/AP

Varadkar will face strong pressure if he has to compromise on border backstop

New Garda Commissioner Drew Harris: Maybe what Sinn Féin fears is that he knows too much about the IRA and its crimes. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Many who aspire to united Ireland raced to undermine new Garda Commissioner

Romanian president Klaus Iohannis:  One of the big stumbling blocks to tourism development is the poor infrastructure. Roads are like those in Ireland before EU money. Photograph: Jacek Turczyk

Romania needs EU investment to develop tourism and its natural resources

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall walk on Derrynane beach in Co Kerry during their visit to the  Republic. Photograph:  Niall Carson/Getty Images

Prince Charles’s visit comes as Brexit creates rift between Irish and British governments

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May: The crucial thing about her  agreement with Tory moderates this week is that a hard Brexit no longer appears to be a live option.  Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Squaring Border circle remains one of the most intractable elements of negotiations

 Britain’s prime minister Theresa May has managed to steer the UK on a trajectory that will keep it as close as possible to the EU in terms of trade and regulation while holding her party together. Photograph: EPA/Neil Hall

Prime minister could be playing waiting game comparable with Jack Lynch during arms crisis

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: While he was criticised by some Yes campaigners for not adopting a more aggressive approach, the end result proves he has his finger on the pulse of middle Ireland. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Abortion result strengthens Taoiseach’s hand before coming general election

Anti-abortion demonstrators outside Leinster House in 1983. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

The abortion issue has convulsed the country repeatedly since the 1983 referendum

  Minister for Transport Shane Ross: the Judicial Appointments Bill which lays down a new system for appointing judges is his brainchild and was included in the programme for government at his insistence. Photograph: Alan Betson

Alignment with SF on judicial appointments to placate Shane Ross threatens democracy

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