There was no sign of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar or Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald while Taoiseach Micheál Martin turned up for Leaders’ Questions only.

Leo and Micheál were on a mission to butter up the billionaires in Davos

Denis Naughten

Two Green scalps and Government blushes more valuable to SF than ineffectual motion

Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan: she and fellow Green TD Patrick Costello shacked up with Sinn Féin for a quickie vote and broke their leader Eamon Ryan’s heart.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Mattie McGrath and Richard Boyd Barrett couple up to force a vote on NMH motion

Taoiseach Micheal Martin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

‘Three hundred years at a tenner!’ Taoiseach cried, as he brooks no dissent on maternity hospital

Paul McAuliffe in July 2019, when he was lord mayor of Dublin – and a governor of the National Maternity Hospital. Photograph: Tom Honan

FF TD reveals a line of former Dublin lord mayors were also governors of Holles Street

Politicians and activists hold a photocall outside Leinster House on Wednesday in support of building the new National Maternity Hospital on publicly owned land. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Government lines up clinicians and lawyers to allay fears of religious interference

Labour leader Ivana Bacik is finding this remake of Call the Midwife a tad unbelievable. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

Ongoing saga of the new National Maternity Hospital has a rather convoluted plot

Pandemonium co-author Jack Horgan-Jones with wife Kate and daughters Olivia (left) and Eve

Sickening display of geniality broke out between rival papers at pandemic book launch

Secretary General of the Department of Health Robert Watt arriving at Leinster House for the Joint Committee on Health meeting. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tony, medic of the pandemic, was given the kid glove treatment. Robert, bureaucratic big cheese, got roasted

People Before Profit’s Bríd Smith defends her 2008 Ford Transit Connect: ‘It’s a great little motor for flying around the city... I’ll be keeping it on the road for as long as it lasts’. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Busy week with wet turf and whip-arounds ends with a welcome break for the Greens

Mattie McGrath. Photograph: Tom Honan

The Rural Independent was back bashing the Greens, a role that has served him well

From his elevated throne at the head of the chamber, Seán Ó Fearghaíl is better positioned than most to monitor emissions from the Roaring Independents.

Restraint was never going to catch on with all hell breaking loose over turf cutting rights

Minister for Poetry Paschal Donohoe. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister makes toe-curling faux pas in exchange with Portuguese counterpart

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses a joint sitting of the Dáil and Seanad on Wednesday. Photograph: Maxwells

Chamber listened in silence as Ukrainian president’s chilling words were relayed

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: borrowing  from the Jane Austen school of bosom-heaving. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

Heated exchange over carbon tax ends with Sinn Féin leader needing the smelling salts

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar: a suspect package addressed to him sparked a security alert in Government Buildings three weeks ago. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Luckily, Tánaiste was in Chile for Paddy’s Day when suspicious package arrived

Has Micheál Martin gone raving mad? Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

‘They contain a thing called choline,’ says the Taoiseach. ‘Very good for brain function’

Mattie McGrath. Photograph: Tom Honan

Picking a breakfast roll battle with healthy Micheál is silly even by Dáil standards

Ministerial cars and their drivers wait on a Cabinet meeting to end at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Elsewhere, we were doing time on Bernard’s watch, and saw some political engagement

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath: hymn sheet not pictured.   Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Michael McGrath, standing in for absent Taoiseach, stays calm for Sinn Féin grilling

It wasn’t a case of water off a duck’s back. The Tánaiste’s anger was instant. His outrage was not manufactured.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Tánaiste's outrage is far from manufactured as he asks Michael Healy-Rae to reflect on comment

Amnesty supporters hold a vigil to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine in Dublin city centre on Thursday evening.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Two years into Covid, we face further fear and uncertainty, but now Putin is the virus

Independent TD Verona Murphy: ‘The tax that’s on the tax on a litre of petrol is actually 20 cent. That’s the tax that’s on the excise.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

Independent TD demands ‘extraordinary measures’ to combat fuel and food price rises

Legislation to reduce excise on fuel costs will be rushed before the Dáil, perhaps as early as Wednesday night. Photograph: Bloomberg

Mary Lou McDonald determinedly leads the charge in Dáil in seeking action on fuel costs

‘When Alan Kelly took to the plinth that night in front of Leinster House to announce his resignation, he looked and sounded like a man in shock.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

Swift coronation of ‘Princess Ivana’ seemingly a foregone conclusion

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly announces his resignation on Wednesday.  Photograph: Alan Betson

‘The lads’ stood silently around Alan Kelly as, close to tears, he delivered his shock resignation

Students from the Royal Irish Academy of Music play the Ukrainian national anthem outside Leinster House. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Leinster House is united in condemnation of ‘bully and thug’ Vladimir Putin

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Finance and Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman get all academic over carbon tax

 Mary Lou McDonald and Micheál Martin are locked in a daily cycle of repetitive and increasingly bitter argument.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Micheál Martin and Mary Lou McDonald stuck in monotonous and unpleasant loop

His Serene Dryness: Michael McGrath. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The Taoiseach is off saving the world, and his stand-in doesn’t really do excitement

You’ve been framed: Lyrics Board presenter Linda Martin

Green Party TD not the first to quote lines from old pop songs during Dáil session

Seanad Cathaoirleach Mark Daly is set to ‘begin hauling in the ambassadors at a terrific rate so they can witness him in the flesh conveying his best wishes to their respective countries on their national day’. Photograph: Tom Honan

Cathaoirleach welcomes Lithuanian ambassador in latest show of international solidarity

Big supermarkets like Tesco did very well out of the Covid-19 crisis, said People Before Profit/Solidarity TD Mick Barry. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Coalition’s Tesco approach to cost-of-living measures gets short shrift from Opposition

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly returned to Dublin after a trip away doing important ‘economic leverage’ stuff at a medical expo in the UAE. File photograph: Alan Betson

Backslapping Fine Gael Senator puts his foot in it while Russia gets lost in the boogie

Taoiseach Micheál Martin cited a Daft report in defence of the Government’s housing strategy on Wednesday. File photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

Dáil again hears of quiet desperation of the housing crisis – and Taoiseach’s one-word solution

Mattie’s vision of the future looks bleak enough to bag a Netflix series.   Photograph: Tom Honan

Roaring Independents blame ‘evil’ Green Party for rising fuel costs and carbon taxes

 Connemara Golf Club in Ballyconneely, Co Galway, famous for the ‘Golfgate’ controversy back in the early 21st century. Photograph: Eamonn Farrell/

In 100 years, there could be deep divisions around marking the centenary of Golfgate

Independent TD Noel Grealish. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

In just under four minutes Judge Mary Fahy dismissed 18 months of absolute madness

Senator David Norris on Bloomsday 2016 at Sandymount Green, Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller

Longest-serving Senator makes warmly received speech celebrating Ulysses centenary

 Sinn Féin’s  Pearse Doherty demanding an answer on Coveney appearing before the Dáil. Photograph:  Dara Mac Dónaill

Sinn Féin politicians highly affronted when taken to task for organising Storey funeral

Action man: Gerry Craughwell.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Rear admiral Gerry Craughwell prepared to launch secret weapon aka Simon Coveney

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: Playing the man not the ball? Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Good news about Robert Watt’s salary sustains us through bitter rows in the Dáil

 Around Leinster House the canteen was purring again with all tables reinstated and the lunchtime buzz well and truly back. TDs were allowed bring guests into the building again. Photograph: Getty Images

The stools have returned to their rightful place at the counter in the Dáil bar

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste  Leo Varadkar: Will Micheál sing a Meat Loaf song? He won’t do that. Photograph: Julien Behal.

Micheál Martin relieved to be bringing good news on Ireland’s new Independence Day

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee: ‘In Ashling, we see our sisters, our daughters and our mothers. In her family, we see our own,.’  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Special Dáil session on violence against women was compelling and heart-gripping

Ashling Murphy’s first class pupils at Durrow National School formed a guard of honour at St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Miriam Lord: A young life needlessly ended. The world changed forever for those left behind

President Michael D Higgins inspects the Defence Forces guard of honour during a ceremony at Dublin Castle to mark 100 years since the handover of Dublin Castle. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Was Varadkar looking for ideas for a more personal handover of power later this year?

A sign placed among the  flowers and candles during a vigil at Leinster House, Dublin, for  Ashling Murphy. Photograph: Brian Lawless/ PA Wire

We need to stop the ‘entry-level’ aggression in order to save women’s lives

Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe (left) leaving Galway District Court. Photograph: Andrew Downes/PA Wire

The Supreme Court judge ambled into Golfgate trial with a stack of files under his oxter

Donie Cassidy leaves Galway District Court in Co Galway after attending a hearing where he is one of four people accused to have breached Covid restrictions by organising a golf society dinner. Photograph: Andrew Downes/PA Wire

Legal heavyweights out in force in Galway – although golf is not exactly their cup of tee

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald delivers a speech at the party’s ardfheis in Dublin in October. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

Danny Healy-Rae left to his own device as Zapponegate saw Government rocked by a role

 Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue with ‘Ronnie’ the donkey  at Farmleigh House. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

TDs and Senators pose with their pets and Howlin marks a special anniversary

The Dáil rises for Christmas on Thursday. File photograph: The Irish Times

Alan Kelly gets a bout of Christmas spirit and Mattie McGrath gets nostalgic about Big Tom

‘I dressed for the occasion in red, a Ceann Comhairle. I think it would be a bit much to don the beard and the hat, so I left it,’ said Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Giddy mood in the chamber, even talk of Tipperary hospital turned fruity

And the winner is... Sinn Féin has emerged as the most popular party in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll. Photograph: Alan Betson

Shinners are cock-a-hoop, but there’s a touch of ‘house private, no flowers’ about FF and FG

The Taoiseach  wasn’t wearing Cooper’s trademark red fez on his head, but by summoning the spirit of the great entertainer he created a mental image some of us can never erase. Photograph: iStock

Too much to expect Micheál Martin to conduct Leaders’ Questions wearing great entertainer’s trademark red fez

 Minister for Housing Darragh O Brien: he did his Teresa Mannion impersonation – ‘do not take unnecessary trips’ – at a press conference in Dublin.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach insists there is no gag and the Government has just decided to ‘co-ordinate’ the lads

President Michael D Higgins has previously expressed concern at a flurry of last-minute Bills. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

President could be on the Bob Cratchit shift as Government leaves its shopping late

Pearse was standing in for Mary Lou McDonald who is away in America and very definitely not fundraising for Sinn Féin in Ireland because little Sinn Féin in the USA needs constant, massive funding for some inexplicable reason. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Taoiseach says he can ‘see through’ SF TD as masks and mica row dominate debate

Róisín Shortall:  the joint leader of the Social Democrats claimed  the approach to providing subsidised antigen tests has been all over the place. “More like Lanigan’s Ball – in again and out again – than fact-based and deliberative”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

No let up over antigen testing and Mica redress scheme

As Shelbourne FC’s public affairs and inclusion officer, former minister Finian McGrath will seek to liaise with government and local authorities on the club’s behalf with the goal of making it the most inclusive club in Ireland

Former minister Finian McGrath joins team Shelbourne FC as public affairs officer

Bernard Durkan wants to know why the Lotto jackpot, now worth more than €19 million, hasn’t been won since June. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Calls for balls to be dropped is an entertaining distraction, but not a winning proposal

 Garth Brooks  at Croke Park, Dublin  in advance of his concerts there next September.  Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

You may have friends in low places, but it’s no guarantee of bagging a prized Golden Swab

Mattie McGrath was among those who questioned the idea of Oireachtas politicians getting free antigen tests. File photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Elsewhere this week, Bertie Ahern’s comments on the North go completely south

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: It’s a rough time trying to keep national spirits up in the face of constant opposition harassment.   Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Histrionics as Micheál Martin and Alan Kelly get their wires crossed over restriction rules

Sean FitzPatrick’s remains are taken from church after his funeral mass  at the Holy Rosary Church, Greystones, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins

Miriam Lord: Death of poster villain of the crash was always going to generate interest beyond his grieving circle

Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, thinks she’ll never be the one to deliver the good news. Photograph: Joe Dunne

Getting juniors to do seniors’ dirty work is no laughing matter for straight-talking Rabbitte

 Senator David Norris beside  his portrait  by artist William Nathans. Photograph: Alan Betson

David Norris (77) honoured for his work as human rights campaigner and doughty defender of Dublin’s building heritage

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald: Got stuck into her favourite subject - cuckoo funds swooping in and snatching homes from under ordinary people’s noses. Photograph: Alan Betson

If you had a drink for every cliche from Sinn Féin leader, you’d be legless in Leinster House

Fianna Fáil Senator Timmy Dooley. Photograph: James Forde

Fianna Fáil was hoping no one would mention the War of the Buttons two years later

Taoiseach Micheál Martin speaks on the second day of the Cop26 UN Climate Change Conference  in Glasgow on Tuesday. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Miriam Lord: He hobnobbed with Boris, Biden and Bezos but met begrudgery in the Dáil

 Tánaiste Leo Varadkar: “Just let me be very clear, deputy, there is not going to be any cull of the herd. That is not a proposal in the Climate Action Plan.”

Dáil’s bovine emissions out of control and not expected to plateau any decade soon

The president of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald, giving her address at the party’s  ardfheis at the Helix in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

This was republicanism with jazz hands and glitter balls as delegates assembled for Sinn Féin’s ardfheis

German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier; his wife, Elke Büdenbender; President Michael D Higgins; his wife, Sabina; and their dogs, Bród and Misneach, at Áras an Uachtaráin. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty

The red carpet is dusted off and the dogs practise diplomatic etiquette for state visit

UK prime minister Boris Johnson and secretary of state for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis at the service in Armagh. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

NI First Minister slammed by a minister in his church for attending ‘unbiblical’ event

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney with UK prime minister Boris Johnson speaking with Catholic Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin following a service to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh yesterday. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

Coveney and Johnson exchange stilted pleasantries at event to mark North centenary

Taoiseach, Micheál Martin:  Matters proceeded uneventfully until Danny Healy-Rae ambled through a gap in the hedge with a query about the culling of cattle to combat climate change.Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Danny Healy-Rae question takes Martin close to the brink

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine : ‘You could probably dance to the bar for a drink’.

Covid’s setback now further compromised by a severe case of The Anomalies

Leo Varadkar: Needs to set his alarm. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The ‘people who get up early in the morning’ were kept waiting as the Tánaiste slept it in

Sinn Féin leader  Mary Lou McDonald: a one-woman castigation chorus. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘The emperors have no clothes,’ said SF leader, before tearing strips off the Coalition

Ant & Dec? No, it’s Michael McGrath and Paschal Donohoe, just before announcing the winners in Budget 2022. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Outbreak of civility as Ministers unveil Budget 2022, with even SF toning it down

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photograph: Gareth/Chaney Collins

Taoiseach is shook on arrival at EU summit, ahead of high-level talks about Cork roads

James O’Connor says he  feels he has been deeply misled and ‘I am hurt.’  Photograph: Stephen Collins/ Collins Photos

Dáil Sketch: O’Connor bags a meeting with the Taoiseach as MacSharry forgets who’s who

 Fianna Fáil TD for Limerick City Willie O’Dea: ‘Because I’m as wise today as I was yesterday’

O’Dea ploughed on with question about Limerick-Cork motorway, tortured by terrible feeling

Can I kick it? Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar, Michael McGrath and Eamon Ryan at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: Julien Behal

National Development Plan launch was low-key – unlike the song and dance of 2018

Fergus O’Dowd: Drogheda’s data deputy.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Commemoration for IRA volunteer featured the famous Clonakilty breakfast product

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Nick Leeder, head of Google Ireland:  “I find it extraordinary that you are prepared to leave households in the dark so that you could roll out the red carpet for data centres,” said Mary Lou McDonald.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

‘I thank the Taoiseach for mansplaining the importance of a public policy issue’

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin reminded the Government of past efforts on housing solutions, unveiled with similar fanfare by Simon Coveney and Eoghan Murphy. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

‘I’ve a terrible sense of deja vu,’ Eoin Ó Broin counters as housing plan is debated

Taoiseach Michéal Martin unveils a brick at the Irish Arts Center in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen

As the Dáil expands along with the population, some space will have to be cleared

Social Democrats co-Leader Róisín Shortall. Photograph: Tom Honan

Róisín Shortall savages Coalition’s lack of political will in implementing Sláintecare

 Danny Healy-Rae: Needs a big rucksack to carry his big, loud Nokia.  Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Danny Healy-Rae’s mobile keeps going off, and Alan Kelly is going off his rocker

Senator Barry Ward is celebrating his engagement to fellow Fine Gaeler Aoife McLoughlin-Ngo.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Brave Barry Ward invites FG colleagues to his Covid-compliant engagement party

 Simon Coveney leaving Government Buildings after a motion to vote confidence in him has succeeded by 92 votes to 59.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Next week the Dáil might start doing some real work

Golden moment: Boxer Kellie Harrington’s homecoming with Emmet Brennan. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

‘She’s like a beacon of light in the area now after everything that has gone on in the last few years’

The ‘mother of Portland Row’, Lily Fagan, with fellow residents, looking forward to Kellie Harrington competing for gold this  weekend. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Olympic finalist cherished and loved by her own in Dublin’s north inner city

Simon Coveney and Katherine Zappone: Zappone landing that job – for which she would seem eminently qualified – was a case of pure serendipity. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Coleen Rooney-esque sleuth unmasks the Dáil squealer while Michael D takes a stand for his holliers

Taoiseach Micheál Martin meets 3rd class pupils from St Brigid’s Girls National School in Glasnevin (from left) Isabella Ryan (10), Ella Brereton (9), Charlotte Collins (9), Caoimhe Flanagan (10), and Faye Haverty (10), who made their First Holy Communion on Wednesday as a small group.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Coalition not quite smelling of roses as Taoiseach visits Botanic Gardens

Wedded blitz:   Orla Hogan, Ali O’Mara, Briana Cullen, Anna Killeen and Orla Ó hUadhaigh  protest at the Department of Health over restrictions on numbers of guests at weddings. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Health officials quake as brides-to-be march on the department, but where were the frills?

James Whelan in Doheny & Nesbitt. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Many publicans opt to wait as clarity over indoor hospitality arrives at 11th hour

Paschal Donohoe: transfer to Europe on the cards. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Forget Tokyo 2020 – the Convention Centre was where the real athletic action took place

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