Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan: cautioned against ‘conceding the idea that the Irish parliament and the Irish Government could fall as a direct consequence of a vote in the British parliament.’ Photograph: Garrett White/Collins

Flanagan warns of FF linking confidence and supply deal to House of Commons decision

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier: “Despite intense efforts, some key issues are still open, including the backstop for Ireland/Northern Ireland to avoid a hard border.” Photograph: Francisco Seco/AP

Backstop accord elusive for London and Brussels as time-limitation a stumbling block

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a full renegotiation of the confidence-and-supply agreement could be wrapped up within a month. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin to meet next week on future of confidence-and-supply

David McCourt with former minister for communications, Denis Naughten. Photograph: Andrew Downes

Former minister’s desperation resulted in an appalling lack of judgment

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin wrote to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “I think it is best if we both state upfront, irrespective of what happens during the confidence and supply review process, that we both agree not to bring down the Government”.

Varadkar responds to Martin plan that they should ‘commit not to collapse Government until Brexit deal reached’

Asked if he was satisfied with Denis Naughten’s explanations about the extent of his meetings with David McCourt, above, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar replied: “So far, yes.”

Analysis: As a shocked Dáil listened to the TD resign thoughts turned to the future of an already precarious minority Government

Denis Naughten: His departure from Government reduces the number of votes the Taoiseach can command in the Dáil to 54 – three short of a bare majority when Fianna Fáil abstains. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Independent auditor will assess if process has been compromised, says Taoiseach

 Michael D Higgins and Denis Naughten  during an Appointment of Ministers Seal of Office ceremony. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Naughten’s political career saw him rise from Young Fine Gael to party’s frontbench

Anger grows over Minister’s contacts with lead bidder for State-backed €500m plan

Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, announcing details of the National Broadband Plan at Government Buildings last year. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

‘Drip feed of information’ about meetings with lead broadband bidder ‘not helpful’

Paschal Donohoe: his budget neither seeks to thrill nor leaves many disappointed, but, in covering as many bases as possible, provides cover for an election  if there is to be one

The budget was less a call to electoral arms than a study in incrementalism

Paschal Donohoe, the Minister for Finance, declared that the reduced VAT rate of 9 per cent to help the tourism and hospitality industry has “done its job”.

Budget 2019: Minister says measure will raise €466m for spending and is ‘responsible’

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe presents Budget 2019 outside Government Buildings. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Paschal Donohoe announces increase in tourism VAT rate, tweaks to USC, €5 increase in welfare

The overall health budget is set to be €17.2 billion, an increase of 6.6 per cent, with new and existing measures grouped under the Sláintecare heading.  File photograph: iStockPhoto

Health and housing to be main focus with mild income tax cuts for middle earners

The threshold at which people hit the lower 2%  USC rate, which is levied on income between €12,000 and €19, 000, will be widened by €500 to take account of a 25 cent increase in the minimum wage

All social welfare payments will increase by €5 from next year, with the Christmas bonus restored to a double payment

HMBudget1

Budget to see a dramatic swing towards spending rather than tax reductions

 The Minister for Finance,  Paschal Donohoe, at the publication of  a White Paper in advance of Budget 2019. Photograph:    Donall Farmer

Independent Alliance expected to secure full restoration of social welfare Christmas bonus

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is expected to outline details of a €1 billion corporation tax windfall on Friday evening. Photo: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Significant payment due to exchequer later this year as multinationals pay more tax

So far Government measures to improve housing supply have produced more noise than results. Photograph: Getty Images

Developments worth up to €7m could be carried out with one-stage approval

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: the Minister and Fianna Fáil have set aside €500 million for the rainy day fund, but Labour wants this to go towards a national housing development bank. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Labour, Greens and Social Democrats launch alternative budgets ahead of Budget 2019

Members of the Independent Alliance have objected to being labelled the ‘auld fellas’ party’ by others in Government. Pictured is Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

Independent Alliance expected to drop objections to VAT rise

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: his planned meeting with  the Independent Alliance  was postponed on Wednesday

Independent Alliance and Fine Gael disagree over higher VAT on hospitality sector

Different ways of changing the hospitality VAT rate have been discussed.

Group is also digging in on insistence pensioners should be exempt from property tax

Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said a levy on intellectual property assets brought to Ireland by multinationals on a tax-free basis would bring In €750 million. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins.

Party publishes alternative Budget plans ahead of Finance Minister’s announcement next week

“Ireland’s tax base is highly exposed to firm and sector-specific shocks,” states the Parliamentary Budgetary Office  report.

Parliamentary Budgetary Office advises broad, non-volatile tax base in budget

Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick: ‘The decision to resign from Fine Gael was a difficult decision to make.’

Anti-abortion deputy was member of Oireachtas committee on Eighth Amendment

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe:  property tax rate of 0.18 per cent  likely to be cut when new house valuations take effect from November 2019. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Independent Alliance pressure to unveil measure in budget resisted by Minister

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: some Ministers may ignore his request to inform local Fianna Fáil TDs about official engagements as an  election approaches. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Leo Varadkar makes request at monthly meeting after issue raised by Micheál Martin

Catherine Martin TD: “Providing a directly elected Dublin mayor must be viewed in the context of the housing emergency and the transport gridlock Dubliners face every day.” Photograph:  Maxwellphotography.ie

Prospect of directly elected mayor for Dublin referred to a citizens’ assembly for 2019

 Sean Gallagher said the presidency should be as ‘transparent as possible because after all, it is taxpayer’s money’. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Businessman says presidency should be as ‘transparent as possible because it is taxpayer’s money’

A setion of the crowd at the public meeting in Portmarnock. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Proposed redesign leaves some areas of Dublin without direct link to city centre

  Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming, chairman of the PAC, insisted that what the committee intended to do was not unconstitutional. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan

Former Attorney General says expenditure of public monies should be open to scrutiny

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has been accused of being ‘seriously politically disinterested’ in the BusConnects scheme. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Minister says ‘legitimate’ concerns over BusConnects scheme will be remedied

Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher attended a defence Forces  protest outside  Leinster House on Wednesday and where he also met  some Fianna Fail   TDs. Photograph:  Gareth Chaney Collins

Party TDs share photos with presidential candidate

Campaigners salute the outcome of the vote to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution at the  RDS count centre in May. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Move paves way for Government to introduce law on abortion in coming weeks

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: has rejected Leo Varadkar’s request to begin talks before the budget. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

Inside Politics: Some senior Fianna Fáil TDs are concerned an extension of the pact could bind the party closer to Fine Gael’s hou(...)

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan is among those with concerns about renewing the confidence-and-supply deal. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Deputies fear extending confidence-and-supply would ‘endorse’ recent Coalition policy

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has stuck to his position that any talks on a successor to the confidence-and-supply deal must wait until after the budget. Photograph: Conor McCabe

Confidence-and-supply deal is due to be reviewed after budget

Labour Party TDs, senators and councillors who debated the leadership on Sunday evening at their think-in. Photograph: Paul Connor

Leader says ‘it was a very uniting experience. I personally ended up hugging most people’

 Labour TD Alan Kelly: “Happy for anyone to lead us into the next election” as long as the party  targets the right policies and improves its performance. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Private think-in hears calls for party leader Brendan Howlin to stand aside

Brendan Howlin  said he spoke to President Higgins in recent days, and predicted a “broad coalition” will back his re-election. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Labour leader says party will act as ‘ground troops’ in upcoming presidential election

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald (right) with Liadh Ní Riada MEP (centre), who will be the party’s candidate in the presidential election, and deputy leader Michelle O’Neill. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

MEP and daughter of composer Seán Ó Riada named as party’s candidate for presidency

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald with Liadh Ní Riada MEP, who will be the party’s candidate in the presidential election. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Munster MEP majors on Irish unity in remarks but takes no questions from media

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has denied that he and the Government performed a U-turn on whether to introduce mandatory open disclosure in the health service. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Varadkar defends late removal of compulsory reporting policy in last year’s legislation

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visits Coláiste Ghlór na Mara, Balbriggan, Co Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Taoiseach suggests schools could honour the signatories of the Proclamation

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: is “embarrassed” for medical profession in wake of  Dr Gabriel  Scally’s report into the CervicalCheck controversy.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Varadkar says attitude of medical staff ‘knowing best’ goes beyond CervicalCheck

Alleged child abuse victim Máiría Cahill has received an apology from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald after a report found failings in the way her allegations about an IRA member were handled. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Apology to Máiría Cahill says procedures were not in place at time of her disclosure

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe told his Cabinet colleagues that demands for more money for the health sector could reduce the sum available for other measures. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Overspend on health this year estimated at €600m, Paschal Donohoe tells Cabinet

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he hopes ‘all of the pain’ experienced in the CervicalCheck controversy  leads to a new culture in the health service. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

Fianna Fáil says public confidence in cancer screening system ‘has been shaken’

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

FF leader says hotels charging high room rates could be singled out for VAT increase

The Land Development Agency is expected to be permitted to use compulsory-purchase orders to acquire lands neighbouring the State sites.

New agency’s initiative is to drive down the cost of land, especially around the capital

Darragh O’Brien TD, leader Micheál Martin and Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee at the Fianna Fáil think-in  in Malahide, Co Dublin. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

Micheál Martin tells party think-in that Fianna Fáil is seeking ‘fundamental change in the direction of housing policy’

Dr Gabriel Scally yesterday briefed Minister for Health Simon Harris ahead of the publication of his 200-page report on Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Health briefed on report about cervical screening controversy

Race for Áras an Uachtaráin (top row): Jimmy Smyth, Patrick Feeney, John Groarke, Pádraig Ó Céidigh. Middle row: Kevin Sharkey, Sarah Louise Mulligan, Seán Gallagher, Joan Freeman. Bottom row: Gemma O’Doherty, Gavin Duffy, Sinn Féin’s as-yet-unannounced candidate, President Michael D Higgins

Candidates need backing of four councils or 20 TDs or Senators

Race for Áras an Uachtaráin (top row): Jimmy Smyth, Patrick Feeney, John Groarke, Pádraig Ó Céidigh. Middle row: Kevin Sharkey, Sarah Louise Mulligan, Seán Gallagher, Joan Freeman. Bottom row: Gemma O’Doherty, Gavin Duffy, Sinn Féin’s as-yet-unannounced candidate, President Michael D Higgins

The election race starts in earnest next week. A hard road lies ahead for the hopefuls

Brexit secretary: Dominic Raab makes a speech on Thursday outlining London’s plans for a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Pool/Getty

Fiach Kelly: Only other route to an exit deal might be for Brussels to do the dirty on Dublin

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin at Leinster House, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Party leader tries to head off challenge to his position in ‘divide and conquer strategy’

Britain’s Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has said the British government is committed to safeguarding the Belfast Agreement and avoiding a hard Border. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Brexit proposal comes as Michel Barnier warns of need to ‘de-dramatise’ backstop issue

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said the majority of Irish people will be happy to see Pope Francis visit Ireland this weekend.

TD says people who don’t want to take part can ignore the papal visit or ‘go to the beach’

Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cúiv is understood to have told party colleagues he will not seek the party nomination for the presidency. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

Source close to Fianna Fáil TD says Ó Cuív now says he will not go against party’s decision

Talks are ongoing between SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, above, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and senior officials. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Move would mean parties on joint platform for spring’s local and European elections

Planning for President Higgins’s campaign is at an early stage will only go up a gear towards the end of the month.

Advisers run the rule over successful tactics in pursuit of second term for incumbent

Brendan Howlin. Joan Burton said it would be ‘unfair’ if his leadership was discussed before he outlines how Labour will increase its popularity, and win more local authority seats, next spring. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Former tánaiste declines to say whether she supports party leader continuing in his role

Labour leader Brendan Howlin. Some Labour councillors, spooked by dismal poll ratings as they face local elections next spring, have called for him to resign.

Fiach Kelly: Micheál Martin and Brendan Howlin are both battling party malcontents

Thirty-one members of Fianna Fáil, including deputy leader Dara Calleary and the party’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath,  urged voters to oppose the proposition to remove the Eighth Amendment. Photograph: Fianna Fáil

Mayo TD believes the public saw Eighth Amendment as a hugely personal issue

Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary has warned Fine Gael to be ‘honest’ about where it has fallen down in housing and health. Photograph: Henry Wills

Fianna Fáil deputy leader also calls for Fine Gael to be ‘honest’ about its failures

Declan O’Callaghan  agreed  to a number of orders before the High Court. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / THE IRISH TIMES

Party sources expect Mary Devine O’Callaghan to resign from her local positions

Jack O’Connor said the issue of who leads Labour could be explored once a wider discussion had been concluded. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Jack O’Connor says full discussion on general approach of the left is needed first

Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

TDs back call for issue to be addressed at pre-Dáil think in due in September

Labour leader Brendan Howin has come under further pressure for a leadership contest Photograph:  Gareth Chaney Collins

Pressure on Brendan Howlin as Martina Genockey says it would help party rebuild

Even those in the Independent Alliance acknowledge Shane Ross is politically toxic outside of his own Dublin Rathdown bailiwick.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

In this uncomfortable tug of war between old and new Ross, it’s difficult to see who benefits

Duty free:  Once the UK becomes a “third country” outside EU structures, no duties will apply to goods brought from the UK to Ireland by consumers once their combined value does not exceed €430 for someone aged above 15 or €215 for someone below 15.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Officials warn of revenue loss and costs of customs checks on UK alcohol and cigarettes

Theresa May was said to be hurt and concerned her credentials as a guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement were not being taken seriously. Photograph:  Sebastien Courdji/Pool via Reuters

Request came as Theresa May felt her credentials on the issue were not taken seriously

Independent Alliance members Shane Ross, John Halligan and Finian McGrath.  To help tackle the housing crisis they want investors buying multiple homes to  pay an extra 10%  of the purchase price in tax on each property.   Photograph: Alan Betson

Independents also want Paschal Donohoe’s budget to cap all road tolls for private cars at €5 per day

A  Department of Finance report on environmental taxes outlines  longer-term proposals to ensure motoring continues to  generate taxes for the State. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

Options for retaining overall tax take include fixed charge

Brendan Howlin: sources close to the Labour Party leader   insist that he will not stand down

Group hoping to get signatures of over half of party’s 50 councillors on a letter calling for a new leader

President Michael D Higgins declined to say if he would be willing to publish his medical records. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

President responds to calls from Senator for candidates’ medical records to be released

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  said the Government would “of course” have to first discuss the issue  with Fianna Fáil.  Photograph: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Taoiseach says move is necessary as part of climate change obligations

The 9% VAT rate was the “right rate for the sector”, according to the Irish Hotels Federation

Increase in the tax rate would be ‘absolutely incredible’, says Irish Hotels Federation

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: A full 4.5% increase in VAT for “tourist accommodation” would bring in €208m, his officials believe. Photograph: Tom Honan

Resurgence in tourism industry behind decision to restore full 13.5% levy

Minister for Transport  Shane Ross with  newly appointed directors  to public transport boards Liam O’Rourke (CIE), Suzy Byrne (Irish Rail), Elaine Howley (Dublin Bus) and Kevin Kelly (National Transport Authority). Photograph: Alan Betson

Shane Ross wants views of those with personal experience of disability to be heard

Mr Howlin succeeded Joan Burton as Labour leader in May 2016.

Party sources say latest bout of unrest caused by recent opinion polls

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has rejected criticism of his proposal that grandparents who help with childcare should receive a €1,000 annual payment. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister says he has not experienced any ‘pushback’ over proposed budget measure

Paul and Ruth Morrissey. Ms Morrissey was forced to take the witness stand for two days last week and deliver  personal testimony about her pain and the impact of her terminal illness on her young daughter. Photograph: Collins Courts

Legal ‘aggression’ by laboratories in recent weeks has caused surprise

Taoiseach  Leo Varadkar: “What we propose to do is to offer mediation in every case so that women can avoid having to go to court and the trauma of a court hearing.”    Photograph: Leah Farrell/ RollingNews.ie

Government stands accused of breaking promise that no woman would have to face court

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said 80 per cent of premises in the country would have high-speed broadband by the end of the year. Photograph: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Announcement of preferred bidder on track for September, Varadkar says

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “False negatives are part and parcel of screening and all of them are not negligence. Indeed, most of them are not negligent.” File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Scandal called the ‘largest health issue in decades’ by Labour spokesman

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said anyone who breaks the law ‘should be willing to do the time’ in jail.

Leo Varadkar also rules out Finian McGrath’s request to free tax-evading doctor

Dr Bassam Naser, of Howth Road, Sutton, Dublin 13, who was jailed for failing to pay €100,000 in tax. File photograph: Alan Betson

Finian McGrath has visited Dr Bassam Naser in prison who is ‘very remorseful’

Michael McGrath: he said the Central Bank was still allowing some lenders to “treat their existing customers in a very unfair manner”

Sinn Féin claims there is little in Central Bank’s recommendations ‘which hasn’t already been proposed

 Joan Freeman: she is understood to have told those supporting her that she does not believe she will have a difficulty  raising funds

Commentator and barrister Noel Whelan confirms he will not stand as candidate

Taylor Swift on stage  at Croke Park. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Legislation will also ban ‘bot software’ used to buy greater numbers of tickets than permitted per purchaser by event organisers

Paschal Donohoe: ordered a report from the Central Bank into  the culture of AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB, Ulster Bank and KBC Ireland following the tracker mortgage scandal.   Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Central Bank report focuses on lessons to be learned from the tracker mortgage scandal

Universal free GP care is to be downgraded to a long-term objective, according to Cabinet papers. File photograph: Hugh Macknight/PA Wire

Plan is downgraded to long-term goal, while Donohoe criticises Harris’s HSE proposals

Minister for Health Simon Harris:  his  memo says it is essential the phasing of implementation is correct and aligned with health policy goals. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Health reform move towards free GP care for all emerging as long-term objective

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said an election in 2020 would prevent any instability overshadowing crucial stages of the Brexit negotiations. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Agreed date would sidestep blame game for triggering general election

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Derrynane Beach, Co Kerry, following a Ccabinet meeting at Derrynane House on Wednesday. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Two party leaders in talks over ongoing operation of their confidence and supply deal

Gavin Duffy: “No disrespect was intended and, if it has been taken thus, I apologise for the offence the councillor took from it.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Gavin Duffy’s act cheapens office of president, says Social Democrats Fingal councillor

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley, California.  Facebook has confirmed it plans to create hundreds of new jobs in Ireland next year. Photograph: Facebook

Dr Mary Aiken says asking company to self-regulate like asking drink drivers to award themselves penalty points

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