So what answer did the broadband minister have to the charges that Fine Gael hijacked a non-partisan infrastructural project for its own ends? Answer came there none. Minister Richard Bruton completely ignored the question. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

Miriam Lord: Micheál Martin not happy as FG members flock to contract signing en masse

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and US businessman David McCourt signing the National Broadband plan at St Kevin’s National School in Co Wicklow. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Micheál Martin goes on attack as Opposition refuses to dance to Government’s tune

Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran had two videos running on Facebook – one for Longford and one for Westmeath. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Rivals claim Taoiseach was tweeting congrats to clubs in his constituency before deadline

Former speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow was the special guest keynote speaker for the County Kildare Chamber business breakfast at the K-Club. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan

The florid rabbiting of the former speaker, although entertaining, can become trying

Noel Grealish was nowhere near the Dáil chamber when Leaders’ Questions rolled around again. Photograph: Screengrab from Oireachtas TV

Independent TD’s provocative question leads to a second day of blowback in the Dáil

Noel Grealish  usually likes to keep things local when he raises issues in the Dáil. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

We worried the dog at home heard TD’s powerful whistle and escaped

Shane Ross: Poster boy for poster-free elections. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The minister for self-effacement asked rivals this week to consider going green

Die-hard Gay Byrne fans began gathering outside the Pro-Cathedral  from 8 o’clock in the morning for the midday Mass. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Heady mix of light-entertainment stalwarts and RTÉ luvvies wedged into wooden pews

Gerry Adams, was garnering most of the attention on the Shinner benches with his new hairstyle

Unwelcome light has settled on cavalier attitude of some politicians to their Dáil duty

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described Gay Byrne aptly as  “perhaps, our original Citizens’ Assembly”. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Condolences for late broadcaster precede rows about hospitals and ‘money messages’

‘Just one more thing, ma’am . . .’ If the Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy's hunch is right, then ‘Fobgate’ could put the War of the Buttons into the ha’penny place. Photograph: John Ohle for The Irish Times

Do TDs fob each other into the chamber? Lt Columbo aka Paul Murphy cracks the case

 Timmy Dooley and  Niall Collins: gave grovelling apologies when hauled up to account for their button-pushing blunders. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Dáil makes a meal of latest shambles to darken its democratic, buttoned-up world

Votegate – the curious story of a Fianna Fail TD voting for his party colleague Timmy Dooley (left) when Dooley wasn’t even in the chamber – has left Leo Varadkar delighted for another Fianna Fáil TD. Photographs: James Forde/The Irish Times and Niall Carson/PA Wire

Schrodooley’s Seat occurs when a Clare TD seemed to have voted and not voted at the same time

Lorraine Walsh and Vicky Phelan  leaving at Leinster House. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

TDs too busy arguing over ‘Votegate’ to share ‘watershed moment’ over cervical scandal

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan highlighted her ‘great personal achievements’. Photograph:  Tom Honan for The Irish Times

Fergus O’Dowd breaks leg while leafleting and Josepha Madigan’s trumpet-blowing

Leo Varadkar, perhaps getting some Brexit frustration out of his system or maybe imagining what it must be like to be on the verge of calling a snap election, continued on the offensive. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Martin and Varadkar fight over respective disability sector records as Brexit truce holds

Leo Varadkar rushed across after his session in the House. Why, with all he has on his plate, he felt the need to be present at a bread and butter ministerial event announcing a road-building project in Mayo was a mystery. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Meanwhile, Coveney was attending Leaders’ Questions. The poor man needed the rest

Leo Varadkar with Boris Johnson at Thornton Manor Hotel in Cheshire. Photograph: PA Wire

The party needs to stop talking itself into opposition, reckons Simon Harris

A small but perfectly formed crowd waited in the Dáil after midday to hear the Taoiseach deliver his first contribution on Budget 2020

Taoiseach tries to impress with biblical and literary quotes, but is hoist by his own petard

In his Budget 2020 speech, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe  promised a variety of financial “interventions” for sectors hit by the UK crashing out of the European Union. Photograph: Alan Betson

Paschal Donohoe seeks shelter from Brexit storm in a budget without surprises

Ray McSharry: the Fianna Fáil grandee was treated to a surprise This Is Your Life party featuring familiar faces of the party down the years.    Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Blasts from the party’s past gather to pay homage to former tánaiste Ray MacSharry

The Taoiseach’s big-ticket lecterns – three of them – were rolled out in a line at the bottom of the steps in front of Government Buildings, signifying this was not a Richard Bruton gig anymore.   Photograph:  Laura Hutton

No alarm and no surprises for Taoiseach and Tánaiste as briefing gets barely a mention

‘After the weekend, the Dáil reluctantly examined the latest gobbets of nothingness hacked up by the British prime minister to avoid saying anything meaningful about his withdrawal intentions.’

Thanks to Johnson and his ‘non-papers’ it’s only a matter of time before . . . non-budget leaks

Maria O’Halloran with her children Sally (6), Peigi (3 months) and PJ (8) from Sandymount. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

No begrudgers were welcome at the homecoming for county’s two winning teams

Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd Barrett  and Bríd Smith of Solidarity/People Before Profit. Murphy has left the Socialist Party to form his own far-left party which he will launch on Monday.  File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

With Paul Murphy starting his own party, Ogle thinks it’s a good time to unite socialists

By sticking to her script and keeping her replies low key  Heather Humphreys easily reached her objective of escaping unscathed. File photograph: Alan Betson

Nothing to do in Kildare Street but wait for big fish to savage themselves into a solution

Following two years of renovation work on the chamber, its gilded occupants were finally allowed back, leaving behind their temporary lodgings in the Ceramics Room of the National Museum where plumptious yellow-haired cherubs – the spit of Donald Trump – decorated the walls. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.

Back in their expensively refurbished Upper House, the talk was still resolutely cheap

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and UK chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid at Farmleigh House. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

A priest delivers Leo from Brexit evil; and ex-senator Lorraine Higgins joins the lobby

Ploughnew sized

Varadkar proves he is not a man who eats his dinner in the middle of the day

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett with  Halima Usman and People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith at a protest outside the offices of vulture fund Val Issuer Dac on Molesworth Street, Dublin. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins

Dáil Sketch: Tenants told ‘notice to quit’ is not the same as eviction – they’ll sleep easy, so

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar extended a teasing welcome to ‘what will be an eventful session, I believe’.  File image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Leo Varadkar leads his B Team back for a new Dáil term but where’s the Brexit plan?

Eoghan Murphy, Martin Heydon and Damien English during the Fine Gael parliamentary meeting at the Garryvoe Hotel in Cork. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Pictures of politicians splashing about without a care can make many people violently ill

Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd with leader Mary Lou McDonald  and deputy leader Michelle O’Neill  before a party away day at the Carrickdale Hotel and Spa in Dundalk. Photograph: PA

While barmy Boris and Co go bonkers over Brexit, Sinn Féin eye solutions-focused success

Micheál Martin at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting at the Ashdown Park Hotel, Gorey, Co Wexford. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Mercifully for the small band of media in Gorey, all the sessions were held in private

British prime minister Boris Johnson speaks to the media ahead of his meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Johnson was in Dublin scattering optimism and enthusiasm about like fairy dust

US vice president Mike Pence, Nancy Pence-Fritsch and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, An Taoiseach at Farmleigh House, where Mr Pence was  the service records of his grandfather, Richard Michael Cawley, who served with distinction in the  Defence Forces during the Civil War. Photograph: Maxwell

Stoical smiles as US vice-president delivers strong endorsement of Johnson and Brexit

Still friends: Dublin and Kerry fans chat after the All-Ireland senior football final in Croke Park. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Final score: Dublin 1-16, Kerry 1-16 and everyone else a basket case.

Politician of the Year: Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Dáil movers, shakers, losers and inbetweeners, plus the prestigious George Clooney Award

The antics of the elusive Dáil rodent have been well-chronicled.

A rat in TDs’ midst; Shane Ross’s birthday; Dr Reilly’s tie; hands, knees and boomps-a-daisy

Olympic silver medallist and Fine Gael councillor  Kenneth Egan does battle (of sorts)  with Senator  Neale Richmond

A repentant Leo is smarting for his sins after troublesome week

A laughing Leo Varadkar, hands up in mock horror, stressed in the Dáil that his fan mail days were behind him. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Taoiseach switches EU fast lane for Dáil clash over Cork roundabout

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Government’s chief damper downer tries to sooth TDs rattled by Mercosur

Jackie Healy-Rae outside the Dáil. File photograph: Peter Thursfield

Ministers in a tizzy about last week’s column; and yours truly comes a quiz cropper

Expressions of sympathy on the late former TD Jackie Healy Rae were heard in the Dáil on Wednesday, nearly five years after his death. File photograph: Eric Luke

The Kingdom comes to Kildare Street to remember the late Independent TD

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe  with Robert Watt (left), secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure, and John McCarthy, chief economist at the Department of Finance. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/For The Irish Times

The Minister is a man with a plan, or rather two plans

 President Michael D Higgins, with one of his dogs, and his wife, Sabina,   with Pat  and  Michael English at the Presidential Concert, celebrating Irish country music in Áras an Uachtaráin.

The First Dogs are more than ice-breakers, ‘they’re also a great source of wisdom’

The Taoiseach wasn’t behaving like someone who wants to keep his confidence and supply partners sweet.   Photograph: Fran Veale

Leo v Micheál: leaders get personal, citing hypocrisy and two-facedness

‘They looked so pleased with themselves as they alighted at their final and only destination. . . For they had left their government cars at home.’ Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Fossil-friendly Danny Healy-Rae says FF and FG trying to be greener than the Greens

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill is Minister for Transport Shane Ross’s pet project. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Government's latest attempt to push Ross's Bill through involves exhausting everyone

Everybody in the Dáil, from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar down, agrees carers are marvellous.  Photograph: Fran Veale

Calls for a rendition of Rock On Rockall as things heat up with the UK over fisheries

During Leaders’ Questions, the Taoiseach continued his pattern of slightly patronising his opposite number. Probably because he knows this annoys him. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Fine Gael leader looks to ‘share the blame’ on Cork mayoral plebiscite

Hearts sank at Doonbeg National School when it emerged that children from Clohanes National School  had met the president.  Photograph:   PA Wire

Doonbeg villagers were hurt over some things said in the media over past few days

Tour operator Mick O’Dea makes his way through Doonbeg in Co Clare during the visit of US president Donald Trump. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Keeping small towns and villages alive is hard going – Trump’s hotel provides jobs

US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania departing from Southampton Airport for Shannon. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Miriam Lord: Shannon in a lather of stress and excitement before circus heads for Doonbeg

Fine Gael politician Maria Bailey. Her interview with Seán O’Rourke will go down in the annals of toe-curling radio. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Swing Out Sister interview will go down in the annals of the toe-curlingly bad

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, pictured at the EU summit in Brussels this week, arrived home to meet Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey. Photograph: Kenzo Triouillard/AFP/Getty Images

There was a distracted air about the benches as Taoiseach returned from his travels

Heather Humphreys: ‘There’s a culture in this country which says: it’s everyone’s fault but your own.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Minister makes pointed criticism of compo culture as FG throw Maria Bailey under bus

Maria Bailey TD. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

‘Humanity has been crossed,’ she sniffed in a rivetingly mortifying radio interview

Green Party MEP candidate Saoirse McHugh at Castlebar count centre. Photograph: Michael McLaughlin

Ryan and Co are an attractive proposition to major party wanting a political partner

Maria Bailey took a slide off a swing at the Dean Hotel  and ended up on a legal roundabout. Photograph:  Ellen Rose O’Riordan

Dark mutterings of ‘dirty tricks’ as Maria Bailey’s night out hogged the headlines

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the authorities “would welcome complaints by any residents in direct provision at Mosney or any other centre”. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Legitimate personal injury case risks taking shine off party’s much-trumpeted crusade

Minister of State Andrew Doyle, Prince Charles, head gardener at the National Botanical Gardens in Kilmacurragh Séamus O’Brien, and Minister of State Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

It took an Anglo-Irish effort to remove Boxer Moran and Andrew Doyle from the frame

President Michael D Higgins, his wife, Sabina, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales at Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Co Wicklow. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Prince of Wales and President stress close ties at Glencree, ‘No matter what happens’

Grace O’Sullivan (right) with  Mícheál and Carmel Raghaill on their doorstep in Tramore: notice on the door tells  canvassers not to call if they aren’t “naturists”.

Naturist warning, Mansion House drink, Stepaside JCB, Daly and singing politicians

 Green Party leader Eamon Ryan is  itching for an end to the talking. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Green Party leader was not won over by Taoiseach’s ‘rational’ approach to broadband

Labour  leader Brendan Howlin: turns out his predecessor Pat Rabbitte supports the Government’s national broadband plan. Checkmate. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Taoiseach reckons if you can’t get Opposition to support the plan, then make them own it

Barking up the wrong tree: Frances Fitzgerald. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Former tánaiste’s heroic good deed in finding lost pooch turns out to be a shaggy dog story

Richard ‘Ask  Me Anything’ Bruton wouldn’t answer the one big question they all wanted to ask: how much is Granahan McCourt putting up? Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

FG Ministers bristle at suggestion they’re promising broadband to reel in rural voters

Former FAI CEO John Delaney pictured this week after a meeting with the board of the FAI. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

The Seanad is led to the guillotine as McDowell stages a judicial uprising

Bono and his wife Ali with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Seán Ó Feargháil at Leinster House: inspired giddy atmosphere. Photograph: Maxwells/Handout

Starstruck politicians press flesh and take selfies as US speaker and rocker add glamour

Chair of Sport Ireland Kieran Mulvey and  Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy arrive for a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport at Leinster House on Tuesday.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Transparency issues still there for all to see as committee demands end to ‘drip-feed’

Independent TDs Mick Wallace  and Clare Daly:  ‘We’ve been thinking about running for a long time and a lot of people were asking us about it.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

TDs make decision during West Cork trip with Independents4Change members

Questions, questions: Catherine Byrne, Minister of State at the Department of Health, and  Minister for Health Simon Harris.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister has been gamely standing in for absent colleagues in Department of Health

FAI executive vice-president John Delaney  arrives at Leinster House with representatives of the Football Association of Ireland . Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Former FAI chief spoke only when modestly outlining his great work on behalf of Ireland

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “We have great ambitions for the beautiful second city.” Photograph:  Gareth Chaney Collins

Park-and-ride points posited as balm for long-commuting citizens of costly second city

Waterford Sinn Féin Cllr John Hearne with his one-eyed hedgehog, Súil Amháin.

Heartwarming tale of a starling, a hedgehog, a badger and the local election candidate

Leo Varadkar smiled and Angela Merkel, wearing a kingfisher blue jacket, gently hooshed him along so that they were properly framed in between the two entrance columns. Photograph: EPA/Aidan Crawley

She waved and vanished inside followed by an entourage the size of Lower Saxony

The Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath shot his mouth off in an interview at the weekend, claiming that gardaí are persecuting innocent drivers. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister of State ‘like dog who cocked his leg against the sideboard, feigning nonchalance’

Dara Calleary: “I presume, Tánaiste, the Taoiseach and President Macron aren’t discussing their Kylie collections”

It’s all about ducks in a row when it comes to the Belgooly water supply

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: are Oliver Callan’s barbs getting to him?  Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA

Varadkar makes lame jokes about Oliver Callan as Michael Collins lip syncs to Abba

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “I couldn’t and certainly wouldn’t wish to countenance a situation whereby Northern Ireland is in a different time zone to the rest of Ireland.” File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Daylight Facesaving Time set to continue, even in post-Brexit Ireland

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

‘Le Brexit, mon ami? It will be very difficult, no?’ asks Macron

The Tánaiste introduced the Taoiseach as the best taoiseach ever, listing all his wonderful qualities. Photograph: Patrick Browne/Fine Gael /PA Wire

The conference at the Clayton Hotel was livened up by a gaggle of hooting bridesmaids

Runner in Dublin’s Kimmage-Rathmines ward Samantha Long: political parties got almost €6 million in State funding in 2017. A new injection would allocate €500,000 more to “already generously funded party machines”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Planning permission, the civil servant who bowed out and male unease at period poverty

British prime minister  Theresa May speaks in Parliament after a no-deal Brexit was rejected in a vote on Wednesday evening. Photograph: Reuters TV

Brexit votes: Nothing can be assumed from Westminster’s panorama of pandemonium

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and colleagues during a statement to media in relation to the latest developments regarding Brexit at Government Buildings. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

A fretful Dáil avoided upsetting our highly strung neighbours. It made no difference

Tánaiste Simon Coveney welcomes Britain’s Prince Charles before dinner at the Irish embassy in London on March 6th.

Tánaiste welcomed Charles and Camilla to a Brexit-fuelled mutual admiration session

With Cheltenham just around the corner, Winston started talking about donkeys and thoroughbreds. But he said nothing about asses. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

Minister and Munster trade insults after achingly dull debate mercifully wraps up

Micheál Martin appeared more like an orchestral conductor with a mission  in the Dáil recently. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Mark Durkan playing second fiddle to Frances Fitzgerald in Euro elections

The Minister for Transport (also known as Shane Ross) was invited to the rural transport meeting, and was expected to attend. Photograph: Laura Hutton/ The Irish Times

Committee members get hot under the collar as Minister pops up in the Dáil

Leo did his best to distance the rising cost of the national broadband project from that of the National Children’s Hospital. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Varadkar pushes the due diligence message, while warning costs could be much higher

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney:  one of a number of speakers in the debate who fervently hoped the new Bill would never see the light of day. Photograph: Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA

Government hopes Bill will mitigate consequences – and that it will never be needed

‘We have to accept the harsh reality of this very moment,’ Micheál Martin told delegates at the Fianna Fáil ardfheis. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins

Martin makes case for sticking with confidence-and-supply deal to reluctant delegates

Minister for Foreign Affairs  Simon Coveney and his Maltese counterpart   Carmelo Abela

A Maltese minister visited Leinster House and it wasn’t a pretty sight

Minister for Health Simon Harris wore his usual pale and pinched worried expression. Photograph: James Forde

Simon Harris, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin all take turns in ‘sleeveen politics’ attack session

What’s the big deal about it anyway? That’s the impression Leo gives every time questions about the national children’s hospital come up. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Assembly of the guilty when spinning yarns about hospital costs continue to unravel

‘I’m from Seattle!’ Katherine Zappone cried to stop Bill Gates in his tracks

Minister tells Microsoft man in Addis Ababa that Ireland’s aid funding has not ‘plateaued’

 There will be no Valentine’s card for the Taoiseach from Micheál Martin this year. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

There’s a Valentine’s card for the Taoiseach but Micheál leaves his colleagues feeling unloved

Televisions in Arnotts display Minister for Health Simon Harris apologising to the Dáil for not providing more information in reply to a parliamentary question about the cost of the national children’s hospital. Photograph: Alan Betson

The Government is only talking millions. Piffling amounts

‘You can bet the house’ that Peter Casey, pictured, will run for the European Parliament, and the Dáil, according to his friend Senator Gerard Craughwell. Photo Nick Bradshaw

The presidential hopeful is apparently looking at a run for Europe, and maybe the Dáil

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