The Fine Gael intention is to link payments such as the pension to the consumer price index this year. File photograph: Getty Images

FG plan would consign people to poverty while claiming to help them, says Willie O’Dea

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar discusses Brexit at the end of an EU summit last week. Photograph: Michelle Devane/PA Wire

Taoiseach also says he will work with whoever is British PM amid turmoil in London

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has refused to engage with suggestions that an EU task force could be set up to deal with the Border in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Getty Images

Merkel notes difficulties of protecting the Belfast Agreement in a no-deal situation

Mark Durkan said the sitting Fine Gael MEPs should have shown their discomfort with   Hungarian leader Viktor Orban’s policies. Photograph: Alan Betson

Mark Durkan says MEPs should have shown discomfort with Hungarian leader’s policies

Paddy Tully (centre flat cap) keeps an eye on the prices at the mart in Granard, Co Longford. Photograph: Lorraine Teevan

Fine Gael needs rural Ireland but its seen to be weak on country concerns from post office closures to driving laws

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar gives a press conference at the end of an EU summit focused on Brexit in Brussels on Friday.  Photograph: Aris Oikonomou/AFP/Getty Images

DUP describes Theresa May’s failure to secure new EU concessions as ‘inexcusable’

Supporters of serving Defence Forces personnel and retired members participating in a  protest over low pay in the armed forces. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Defence Forces Family Political Forum wants to see strategic voting among members, families

Cllr Malcolm Byrne (left) defeated Billy Kelleher TD by eight votes. Photographs: File/Brenda Fitzsimons

Wexford councillor Malcolm Byrne defeats Billy Kelleher for European Parliament nomination

The Cabinet adjourned once more, with Ministers and officials – sustained by late-night sandwiches – gathering around televisions to watch the joint May-Juncker press conference. Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

Juncker wanted a ‘verbal handshake’ with Varadkar before any sign-off with May

Paschal Donohoe, will be Fine Gael’s director of organisation for the next general election. He is in London for St Patrick’s Day. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Minister for Finance does not want to lead now ‘nor in the future’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: took call from European Commission president Jean Claude  Juncker on the final wording of the unilateral declaration. Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA

Dublin and Brussels deemed notion lacked rigour under EU and international law

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the onus was now on London to find a way out of the current crisis. Photograph: Tom Honan/PA Wire

Simon Coveney ‘deeply disappointed’ by latest rejection by MPs of Theresa May deal

Leo Varaadkar, speaking at a press conference in  Government Buildings on Tuesday morning. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Documents provide additional layer ‘interpretation, clarification, elaboration’

British prime minister Theresa May arrives back at Downing Street in London after making a statement on Brexit at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire

Inside Politics: May insists she has secured ‘legal changes’ to backstop ahead of Commons vote

Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for the European Union,  greets British prime minister Theresa May before a news conference in Strasbourg, France, on Monday.  Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

Joint interpretive instrument means EU cannot trap UK in backstop indefinitely

Taoiseach Leo  Varadkar and his senior staff were due to travel to the United States for the annual St Patrick’s Day series of events yesterday, but postponed their departure. Photograph: Tom Honan

Ministers insist no change in the position that UK can unilaterally exit backstop

Details of an Irish woman in Syria first emerged after a TV crew working for ITV News visited a camp in northern Syria two weeks ago. Photograph: ITV

Removing citizenship for woman who left for Syria would not be ‘compassionate’ move

British prime minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker are pictured during a  news conference in Strasbourg on Monday. Photograph: Vincent Kessler/Reuters.

Juncker says there will be no further chances on agreement and Varadkar approves latest offer

Leo Varadkar attends the Six Nations match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Sunday. Photograph: Peter Morrison/AP

Any Brexit extension would have to be an ‘extension with a purpose’

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley  said she is profoundly sorry for deeply insensitive comments she made on Wednesday suggesting that deaths caused by soldiers and police during the Troubles were not crimes. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Northern Secretary criticised in North and State for saying killings by soldiers, police ‘not crimes’

A poster for Niall Blaney’s EU election campaign. Image: Facebook

Former Donegal TD Niall Blaney says timing of convention is unreasonable

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar does not believe the recent controversy surrounding the national children’s hospital overspend is responsible for a drop in his and Fine Gael’s standings in opinion polls. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters.

Taoiseach notes consumer confidence drop when asked about poll ratings for him and party falling

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the launch of the Action Plan for Education 2019 in Dublin on Thursday. Photograph: Julien Behal

NI business group says absence of a departure deal has seen investment evaporate

 Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley: ‘never intended to cause offence’. Photograph:  Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Northern Secretary criticised in North and State for saying killings by soldiers, police ‘not crimes’

The site of the national children’s hospital in Dublin. The €450m overrun in the project, now expected to cost €1.7bn, has led to a major political controversy. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Robert Watt to tell PAC greater cost controls being introduced following hospital overspend

 Leo Varadkar launched the group at the weekly Fine Gael  parliamentary party meeting. File photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Group will ‘develop links’ with NI parties and build FG profile in North, says party chair

Paul Murphy TD outside Leinster House, Dublin  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dublin TD describes rivals as bourgeois, sectarian nationalists with an ‘armed wing’

Paul Murphy, left, said: “The guiding line for us all in this debate should be what Lenin, approvingly quoting Trotsky, argued, that ‘ideological struggle within the party does not mean mutual ostracism but mutual influence’.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Paul Murphy advocates ‘united front’ when dealing with Sinn Féin, documents show

Paul Murphy, left, said: “The guiding line for us all in this debate should be what Lenin, approvingly quoting Trotsky, argued, that ‘ideological struggle within the party does not mean mutual ostracism but mutual influence’.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

In internal documents Paul Murphy advocates ‘united front’ when dealing with Sinn Féin

From left to right: Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger TD, Cllr Michael Murphy and Mick Barry TD pictured in 2017.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Papers show serious differences between leading party figures on domestic strategy

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mark Durkan, the former SDLP leader who is now a Fine Gael candidate. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Inside Politics: Sinn Féin appears stung by FG selection of former SDLP leader Mark Durkan as European Parliament candidate

British prime minster Theresa May and President of European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. The EU and UK will map out what technological solutions could be used to keep the Irish border open after Brexit. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty

Work would take place during transition phase which starts after Britain leaves EU

Emergency services at the  scene at the Department of Health on Baggot Street. Photograph: Conor Pope

Taoiseach asks ‘what kind of oddballs’ send such material, which is ultimately opened by civilian staff

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn: “We are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country.” Photograph:  Aaron Chown/PA

London to bring back direct rule in NI as administrative move in event of crashout

Ali Charaf Damache is serving a 15-year sentence in a maximum security facility in the United States. Photograph: Collins Courts

Right to same-sex marriage and abortion universal, Taoiseach tells Arab League

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British prime minister Theresa May at the Arab-European Summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Taoiseach says Fianna Fáil has offered ‘no substance of policy, no alternative’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British prime minister Theresa May held bilateral talks at the margins of the first Arab-European Summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Photograph: Getty

Tusk confirms he has discussed an extension with May: says it is a ‘rational solution’

British prime minister Theresa May attends the  EU-Arab League Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, yesterday. Photograph: Khaled Elfiqi/EPA

British PM’s move does not alter anything for Ireland or European Union, says Varadkar

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi  at  the opening of the  EU-League of Arab States summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Photograph: EPA/Khaled Elfiqi

Varadkar to make an address at the first EU-League of Arab States summit in Egypt

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  arrives to attend the first joint European Union and Arab League summit at the International Congress Centre in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Postponement of Commons vote ‘doesn’t change anything’, says Taoiseach

 Micheál Martin:  “When you strip it all back . . .  he has made the right call on all the big issues and he has excelled in all the elections,” said one frontbencher. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Few of those at today’s Fianna Fáil ardfheis in Citywest want to wait much longer

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross: the doors of the Independent Alliance and other non-aligned members of the Government have recently remained undisturbed.  Photograph: Laura Hutton

Fiach Kelly: ‘Are we an irrelevance or a stable and reliable part of the Government?’

 Micheál Martin outside Leinster House on Friday. The Fianna Fáil leader believes an election will be held early next year.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fianna Fáil leader says he will facilitate a fourth budget under the current agreement

Leo Varadkar: “I wonder, if Fianna Fáil was 5-10% ahead in the polls for the last year, would they be quite so willing to facilitate us?” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Congress will not support trade deal with UK that undermines Border, says Taoiseach

Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher:  still expected to contest for the European Parliament nomination. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Surprise at Micheál Martin’s ‘ruthless’ response to deputy’s plans to run in Europe

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: James Forde

Three-day talks to cover economic interventions and state aid for vulnerable industries

Minister for Health Simon Harris: managed to tie both Varadkar and Donohoe into the hospital issue. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Simon Harris is set to sail through vote of no confidence, but relations in Government are damaged

Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea said he could ‘walk away’ from the confidence-and-supply deal if Brexit and other issues damaged faith in Government. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill /The Irish Times

Senior party figures say clarity on Brexit would bring a general election ‘within weeks’

Barry Andrews is congratulated by two of his children, Kate and Hugh, after being selected to contest the European Elections for Fianna Fáil in Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

The new MEP candidate for Dublin comes from a line of TDs and senior party figures

Young people in Northern Ireland have less interaction with others of different race, religion and age: “This environment is ripe for fostering extreme beliefs, actions and violence.” Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne

Warning hard border or quick referendum on Irish unity would bring back violence

Former minister of state Barry Andrews (front, right) has been selected to contest the European Parliament election in Dublin for Fianna Fáil. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Party frustrated at being associated with Government’s difficulties, says former minister of state

Simon Coveney: said such a package must not be ‘unreasonable’ or ‘put an unfair burden on Ireland’. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Taoiseach predicts ‘nasty surprise’ for those expecting EU27 unity to crack

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the  inability of the House of Commons to ratify the Brexit withdrawal agreement meant the UK is currently stuck. Photograph: Collins

Countries are asking if the UK can ‘make [trade deals], ratify them and stick to them’

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Inside Politics: Party rolled its eyes when John McGuinness was on radio

John McGuinness: he said rank-and-file party members were unhappy with the extension to the deal that underpins the Fine Gael-led minority government

Cowen and McGuinness had row at Fianna Fáil party meeting over extension of confidence and supply deal

Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy: “While there is no quick fix, our housing plan is now showing real progress in the delivery of new homes and new social housing homes.” Photograph: Tom Honan

Rebuilding Ireland plan wants to increase the supply of social homes to 10,000 by 2021

Ministers  discussed the episode which saw protesters block Mr Harris, his wife and their three-week-old daughter in their home in Greystones, Co Wicklow.  Photograph: Tom Honan

Fears expressed by some members of Cabinet about safety

Barry Cowen (left), the spokesman on public expenditure, and John McGuinness (right), the outspoken deputy for Carlow-Kilkenny, clashed in front of colleagues at the weekly Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting. File photographs: The Irish Times

Offaly TD criticises some colleagues for speaking in ‘personal capacity’ at interviews

Minister for Health Simon Harris addressing the Dáil on Tuesday.

‘I should have added further detail that the process was ongoing to finalise costs’

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy: the department has been seeking ways to make it less attractive for people to turn down offers of social housing. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

New rules mean applicant will be suspended from the waiting list for five years

Any motion against Simon Harris (above)  will fail, but will be used by Sinn Féin to further underline its distinction from both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for its target audience. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Sinn Féin’s no-confidence motions will fail to get FF backing due to its deal with FG

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he did not find Simon Harris’s “explanations credible at all”. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Taoiseach says he understands taxpayers ‘very annoyed’ about cost overrun

Mary Lou McDonald on the screen during the Sinn Féin special ardfheis held in the RDS. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Party sources say it is after the ‘angry vote’, raising questions about longer-term strategy

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he has “total confidence” in Minister for Health Simon Harris. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

‘I have every confidence in Mr Harris but am not going to pre-empt what he says in Dáil’

Philippe Lamberts said the EU single market must be protected. Pictured in 2012, photograph: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/GettyImages

Philippe Lamberts says Ireland is between ‘a rock and a hard place’ in Brexit negotiations

File photograph of President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina voting in 2014. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Poll about franchise for presidential election campaigns was initially expected in May

  Nurses on the picket line at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin last week. Photograph: Collins

Inside Politics: 50,000 medical appointments are rescheduled due to second strike today by almost 40,000 nurses and midwives

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “There are definitely options for preserving the integrity of the single market even when Northern Ireland isn’t part of it because it is part of Britain while at the same time meeting the desire to have, if possible, no border controls”. Photograph:  Toshifumi Kitamura/Pool Photo via AP

David Trimble plans to take UK government to court over backstop agreement

Minister for Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton: his climate plan will be implemented if Britain has an orderly exit from the EU. Photograph: Finbarr O’Rourke

Plan to lead world in tackling carbon emissions may be ‘paused’ if UK crashes out of EU

Conor Lenihan at the announcement that he wishes to be selected by Fianna Fáil to be its candidate in the upcoming European Election. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

MEP candidate Conor Lenihan also says he has nothing to hide in past Russia dealings

 Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín said a notice in a recent parish newsletters asking “pro-life supporters especially” to attend one of his rallies was not ordered by him. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

TD distances himself from parish newsletter adverts inviting ‘pro-life supporters’ to rally

Kit Malthouse, right – who gives his name to the Tories’ Malthouse compromise – and Boris Johnson in 2011. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Industry figures trash Tories’ reheated idea of technology plus checks away from Border

Dominic Raab gives evidence about the Brexit backstop to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in London. Mr Raab claims a meeting he had with Simon Coveney ‘was leaked in an inaccurate and misrepresenting way by the Taoiseach directly’ Photograph: PA Wire

Former Brexit secretary accused Taoiseach of ‘directly’ leaking Tánaiste meeting's contents to UK newspapers

Tánaiste Simon Coveney addresses a meeting of the Institute of International and European Affairs at the Gresham hotel in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Tánaiste warns Ireland will not be casualty of Tory infighting

British prime minister Theresa May  addresses MPs following the results of voting on amendments put forward by MPs over the Government’s Brexit deal, in the House of Commons, London, on Tuesday. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire

PM wants to secure ‘legally binding changes’ to withdrawal agreement

 Minister for Justice  Charlie Flanagan and  Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan speaking to journalists on the Government’s decision to hold a referendum to amend the constitutional provisions on divorce. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

It is proposed that the divorce waiting period will drop to two out of three years living apart if the referendum is passed.

The Irish economy would be 4.5 per cent smaller by 2023 than current projections, following a no-deal Brexit, the Department of Finance warned. Photograph: PA PA Wire

Unemployment rate could rise 2 per cent if UK leaves EU without deal, department says

British prime minister Theresa May:  cannot win parliamentary backing for her deal based on Conservative and DUP votes. Photograph: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Inside Politics: Amendment calling for alternative arrangements to avoid hard border does not detail what these are

 Simon Coveney told BBC’s  The Andrew Marr Show: ‘The backstop is already a compromise’.  Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/handout via Reuters.

If UK stays in customs union and rejects hard border, negotiations could begin – sources

 Micheál Martin says:  ‘I am blocking nobody from running for anything.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

FF leader asks members to think of the party when selecting MEP candidates

Simon Coveney: ‘The backstop is already a compromise.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/File

Tánaiste says nobody has come up with sensible solution to avoid hard Border

Political sources have previously said Mr Hogan could change brief if he remains at the Commission. File photograph: Alan Betson

It is understood Varadkar has not given Mr Hogan a commitment on the issue

Flags tied to railings outside parliament in London:  The Irish Government’s no-deal Brexit Bill attempts to cover all likely areas of change. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth

State’s 95-page legislation document covers healthcare, education and social protection

A ‘No Border, No Brexit’ sticker on a road sign in front of the peace statue entitled ‘Hands Across the Divide’ in Derry. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Legislation covers issues ranging from social welfare to immigration controls

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan: “I would like to see the Bill progressed. So would Shane.” Photograph: James Forde

Minister for Justice says Minister for Transport has his ‘boot on his neck’ over Bill

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to meet all party leaders in the Dáil on a fortnightly basis to maintain political consensus on the approach to Brexit. File photograph: Tom Honan

Varadkar remark ‘made in passing’ at Brexit briefing for Opposition leaders

Government Chief Whip Seán Kyne recently told TDs that any unapproved absences during the coming Dáil term will be reported to the Taoiseach. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Alliance under pressure not to vote against Government on occupied territories Bill

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has asked his Ministers to refrain from criticising Shane Ross. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/ The Irish Times

Taoiseach wants to end public ‘back and forth’ with Independent Alliance

Robert Watt, secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure, has declined to attend an Oireachtas committee meeting  to answer questions on the hospital overspend.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

PAC to hear €50m of overrun for St James’s site to come from health budget this year

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney speaking to the media at Government Buildings. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

Simon Coveney says backstop is the solution to protecting the status quo in Ireland

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: “Dublin cannot blink . . . I will tell the Taoiseach that he must stand firm in the face of British pressure.”  Photograph: John Thys/AFP

In event of no-deal Brexit, arrangements at ports will remain unaltered for nine months

Polish foreign minister Jacek Czaputowicz: Warsaw political observers say he has no political base and little connection to party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Photograph: Robert Ghement

Polish foreign minister says London, Dublin ‘playing chicken’ over post-Brexit border

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May: expected to table a neutral motion in the House of Commons on Monday. Photograph: Hannah McKay

Dublin and Brussels may agree to bargain on political declaration rewrite but not backstop

The site of the proposed National Children’s Hospital, which is currently projected to cost €1.43bn. Photograph: Eric Luke

Public expenditure secretary claims health counterpart should answer Oireachtas questions

 Fianna Fáil’s Eamon Ó Cúiv: “What I am proposing is that through the LocalLink companies a subsidy be given to service providers on an organised basis to provide local area hackney services in and around rural areas”

Minister says number of checkpoints in recent weeks had led ‘Joe Public’ to feel ‘persecuted’

 Britain’s prime minister Theresa May makes a statement at Downing Street after  she won a vote of no confidence in the government. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

Inside Politics: Shane Ross caught on tape privately admitting he didn’t know what to say at press conference

Minister for Transport Shane Ross. A Minister said Mr Ross’s public performance was not surprising given that he did not seem ‘up to speed’ on Brexit preparations in his own portfolio.

Minister for Transport’s Brexit remarks were ‘as if he didn’t even read his own documents’

Drivers are told by gardaí to blame increased checks on Minister for Transport Shane Ross, according to one Minister. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Garda checkpoints are ‘over the top’ and akin to ‘police state’, Cabinet member claims

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said if the UK moved on its red lines of ruling out membership of the customs union and single market, the EU position would also evolve.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Taoiseach says UK government must honour its commitments to the people of Ireland ‘north and south’

Simon Coveney brought a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday on the operation of the CTA in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

New UK-Ireland arrangement to protect Common Travel Area ‘ready to go’ – Tánaiste

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