Solidarity activists hold a protest in opposition to the sale of millions  of mortgages to vulture funds outside the Grafton Street branch of Permanent TSB bank in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Rate of family home repossessions in Ireland is low compared to EU counterparts

Danny Healy-Rae:  “In the past a criminal could never predict when a local garda would pop along . . . Now, if something happens in Sneem it will take 25 minutes from Kenmare and from Killarney it will take 50 minutes.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Station closures and reduced garda numbers leave criminals free to target country areas

Prime Minister Theresa May: Statement on the North talks was the very definition of insipid. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/PA Wire

Inside Politics: Theresa May’s statement on the stalled process was the very definition of insipid

The plan makes a distinction between once-off rural homes lived in by farmers and other country dwellers and those desired by those who want to leave towns but still commute for work and school.  Photograph: Getty Images

Local authorities to complete housing demand assessments

In all, 37 per cent of the country’s population live in towns of less than 1,500 or in the open countryside. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

New long-term planning blueprint sets realistic and sustainable approach to once-off homes

Inner-city regeneration is one of the key targets of the National Development Framework, including higher-density, high-rise buildings.

Development framework says new homes pose danger of rampant urban sprawl

Rural housing has  been the cause of the vast majority of lobbying since the draft of Ireland 2040, the National Planning Framework, was published in October.

Country TDs told they have nothing to fear when it comes to future of rural housing

European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly:  the  processes of the European Council, which is comprised of the heads of state in the EU, remained oblique. Photograph: Maxwell’s

European Ombudsman tells Oireachtas Committee council not a ‘star pupil’

Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring says there is a “feelgood factor out there” in rural Ireland. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Michael Ring says he has ensured policies approved at Cabinet are ‘rural proofed’

John Robb pictured in the Dáil on February 14th, 1985. Photograph: Jack McManus/The Irish Times

President Higgins praises the surgeon’s ‘deep humanity’ following his death on Tuesday

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: Sensitive to the claims of an anti-rural bias. Photograph: Colins

Changes are made to national planning framework after Opposition unites in criticism

Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy: “Many regional and local roads are in a dreadful state as a result of the Government’s failure to invest in roads infrastructure.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Local authorities given ‘less than half the funding they need’, says TD Robert Troy

Former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte once said ‘Oireachtas Report’ was watched only by ‘drunks and insomniacs’. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

Dáil deputies and senators briefed on RTÉ proposal

 Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald will formall succeed Gerry Adams. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

End of an era as Mary Lou McDonald to formally succeed Gerry Adams as president

Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald: “Mary Lou has been part of the leadership for a long time. It’s not like she has landed down from Mars.” File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Party faithful believe new leader will offer policy continuity, but a fresh, more dynamic approach

National development plan: Proposes a Dart extension - but uncertainty over Dart underground

Inside Politics: Western Rail Corridor is a notable absence from the document

 Fianna Fáil spokesman on communications Timmy Dooley speaking to media at Leinster House on Tuesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Timmy Dooley says response from Communications Minister not credible and unrealistic

Emma Blain (37), an FG  councillor in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown: ‘I am pro-choice and I am delighted that people of my generation are getting the chance to vote.’ Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Party’s female politicians tend to back reform, but rural representatives have concerns

Tánaiste Simon Coveney  insisted he will campaign for a Yes vote to repeal and replace the Eighth Amendment.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Tánaiste criticised by colleagues for not supporting 12-week proposal

Denis Naughten:  he is particularly critical of the fact that not only will Dublin have a major trauma centre, it will also have two trauma units. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Naughten and Ring claim Galway needs more than trauma unit given large area involved

Tanaiste Simon Coveney: Supports repeal but has difficulty with the 12-week provision. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Deep misgivings exist in two major parties over proposed term for unfettered access to termination

Joe McHugh Minister of State for the Irish Language, is among those who said they could not support the proposal for unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks. Photograph: Alan Betson

Many rural representatives in particular have problems with 12-week recommendation

Dublin Airport: DAA says the impact of the restrictions will mean there will be a one-third reduction in night flights in the airport, between 11pm and 7am. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Plan could lead to drop in passenger numbers and ‘serious commercial risk’ for its future

Independent Senator Frances Black has sponsored a private members Bill in the Seanad calling for the prohibition of goods and services from illegal Israeli settlements. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Proposed law likely to win support from most Opposition parties

 Minister for Foreign Affairs  Charlie Flanagan will bring a memo to Cabinet on the UN Convention on People with Disabilities  on Tuesday. File photograph: Eric Luke

The country will become the last EU state to take ratification step

Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath with party leader Micheál Martin: McGrath has said he believed the proposal made by the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment was a step too far. File photograph: Sam Boal/

Support for repeal is 50/50 but the real split is over the proposed 12-week window

‘There was a deepening divide between Donnelly and his co-leaders, Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall, which culminated in his departure. The joint leader concept persisted but it did not work for the Greens in the past and it’s unlikely to work for the Social Democrats.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

Party, which has faced structural problems, is holding its second annual conference

Hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell buses used in other European capitals to reduce emissions

Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill

Two Donegal County Council members accused of duplicating expenses

If  electorates in Dublin and cork  approve the change, the first directly elected mayors will not take up their new positions until 2024. File photograph: Getty Images

Plebiscite asking whether voters want executive mayor likely to take place in June 2019

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty announced that many of those affected by 2012 pension rule changes will be entitled to a new credit that will restore their pensions to pre-2012 levels. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

‘Home caring credit’ to restore pension levels but retrospective payments ruled out

Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan: Went over to Maurice McCabe and shook his hand. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Inside: Politics: Garda commissioner wanted whistleblower to be respected and protected while protecting force against allegations(...)

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty said up to 42,000 people had been affected by a law change introduced by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition in 2012. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Social Protection to present memorandum to Cabinet

 It is thought most Northern Ireland-based politicians would be reluctant to run against Michelle O’Neill (above), as that might be perceived as undermining her authority. Photograph:  Jonathan Porter/PressEye

MEP Matt Carthy says he would consider running if nominated, while Doherty rules himself out

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy: the State would provide land at reduced or no cost to facilitate affordable homes. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Eoghan Murphy says four locations in Dublin are ready for construction to begin in 2018

Sgt Maurice McCabe on the first day of the Charleton Tribunal at Dublin Castle on June 14th, 2017. Photograph: Alan Betson

Despite exaggerations, the substance of his claims have stood up – and forced the Garda into being publicly accountable

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan: has been told by  Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring that Gsoc should not be under the remit of his  department in order to give the public confidence in its independence. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA

Watchdog chairwoman says it should not be under Department of Justice remit

Micheál Martin: the Fianna Fáil leader was bemused to read reports of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s intentions to approach Fianna Fáil during the summer with a view to starting a review. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘We need less political manoeuvring and positioning. It is completely premature’

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy: his figures are disputed by Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen who claims the Government delivered only  743 units in the first nine months of 2017. Photograph: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Barry Cowen and Eoin Ó Broin dispute Minister’s social housing data

DUP leader Arlene Foster greets Kerry Senator Mark Daly who wishes to run for president at the Killarney Economic Conference. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

Sinn Féin says Brexit will be ‘disastrous for all of Ireland’

Arlene  Foster and Micheál Martin both delivered  speeches at the Killarney Economic Conference

DUP stresses Fianna Fáil Brexit proposal can only be examined in limited circumstances

‘The EU has been positive for Ireland… For a tiny country we are away up compared to where we should be,’ conference hears. Photograph: iStock

Brexit is going to be a test of Ireland’s maturity in dealing with migrants, says academic

Mike Russell: ‘There is a misunderstanding of freedom of movement that is driving the process (of Brexit).’ Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

SNP says if a second referendum were to be held, majority voting to remain would be even higher

 Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin  warned against negotiators rushing to microphones. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Fianna Fáil leader said such a designation ‘would threaten no one’s sovereignty’

DUP leader Arlene Foster at the Killarney Economic Conference in Co Kerry. Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan/PA Wire

DUP leader emphasises close ties but says ‘my party was never in favour of the EU’

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed: “The UK is a critically important trading partner for the Irish agri-food sector, with almost 40 per cent of our exports going to the UK in 2016.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Michael Creed addresses economic conference in Killarney on outlook after Brexit

Dr Theresa Reidy, UCC. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Move aims to avoid any confusion with the referendum on the Eighth Amendment

The house value on which the tax is levied is due for revision next year. The difficulty is that house prices have increased enormously in Dublin and in other urban areas. Photograph: Frank Miller

Minister for Housing suggests he is in favour of changing current charging system

Mary Lou McDonald:  she has been the de facto political leader of the party in the Republic over recent months

Special Sinn Féin ardfheis will take place in the RDS on Saturday, February 10th

Jim O’Callaghan said several non-EU countries were parties to the Dublin III convention, and he hoped Britain remained in it following Brexit.

UK leaving convention would cause Ireland significant difficulties, Jim O’Callaghan says

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin: argues that every statement now seems to be accepted at face value, even if it’s patently nonsense. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Brendan Howlin reveals his plans to rebuild his party into a force to shape Irish politics

The most likely date for the referendum on the Eighth Amendment is the start of June. Illustration: iStock

There is at least one referendum, and possible presidential and general elections

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone: ‘We want to find ways of reparation and healing alongside the brilliant work being done by the commission.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Children claims the sampling process might preclude a dignified reburial

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone:  said children who have experienced abuse should not have to go through the trauma of telling their story over and over again to different agencies, principally the Garda and Tusla.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister wants to bring different agencies dealing with child abuse under one roof

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone. Remaining faithful to the change-making qualities and instincts of her late wife Ann Louise Gilligan has been her main motivating factor. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister for Children hopeful for social change following ‘worst year of my life’

Independent presidential candidate Seán Gallagher: Poor performance on the ‘Frontline’ debate was compounded by the false tweet read out live by presenter Pat Kenny. Photograph: Eric Luke

Other factors led to candidate losing 2011 presidential race, but tweet delivered final blow

Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council missed a deadline for submitting an action plan on vacant houses

Delays justifiable as plans need to accurately reflect situation on ground, says department

Ministers will be free to vote against holding an abortion referendum when the issue is considered in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Taoiseach has personal view on issue but this will not determine Government stance

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable says real ambiguity remains around the Irish Border question in the Brexit negotiations. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Lib Dems leader says Sinn Féin’s absence from Westminster has eased Brexit passage

‘I hated sport. When I started climbing I was physically not a confident climber’

The Oireachtas Committee passed several votes on abortion that would have previously been considered inconceivable

Inside Politics: Government to come under pressure after committee votes to give access to termination up to 12 weeks without any (...)

An Oireachtas committee is due to start efforts to modify a dramatic hike in the local property tax due in 2019.

Under updated house valuations, owners in Dublin face liability for 100%-plus increases

Winter weather: the national road maintenance budget pays for the gritting and salting of roads during snow and ice. Stock photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty

Department of Transport announces reduction of 15% amid first big snowfalls

Dublin’s Lord Mayor Mícheál MacDonncha: The new mayors, scheduled to be elected in 2019, will have specified executive powers which will be limited initially but can be expanded. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Mayors will serve five-year term and have responsibility for wider metropolitan area

Simon Coveney: He rejected the suggestion technology would provide a panacea for all the Border issues, and even suggested that Northern Ireland remain within the customs union

Diplomatic offensive by Coveney and Varadkar seems to have achieved its goal

DUP leader Arlene Foster’s phone call to British prime minister Theresa May dashed hopes for a Border deal. Photograph: Getty Images

Inside Politics: Arlene Foster insists her party ‘will not accept any form of regulatory divergence’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Donald Tusk, president of the European Council at Government Buildings in  Dublin on Friday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

European Council head throws weight behind Varadkar in Brexit negotiations

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, at Government Buildings. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

European Council president says if UK offer is unacceptable to Ireland, it will be unacceptable to EU

The British government has said the EU exit process would be “seamless”. Photograph: Getty Images

Q&A: From a hard Border to the Republic exercising a veto as we near the end game

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and European Council President Donald Tusk speaking at a joint press conference at the Government buildings on Friday afternoon. Photograph:  Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

If UK’s offer on the Border ‘is unacceptable to Ireland it will be unacceptable to the EU’

Newly-appointed Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan (front) arriving at the Áras in Dublin. Photograph: PA

Newcomer Josepha Madigan seen as being a classic pro-business Fine Gael TD

Part of Trevor Ó Clochartaigh’s difficulties lie with the imminent selection convention for Galway West which he claims has a “pre-determined outcome”. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Galway West representative cites inaction on his complaints about disciplinary matters

Alan Kelly repeated his call on Wednesday for Charlie Flanagan, above, to step down and for his department to be split in two. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Opposition questions continue but Fianna Fáil has no appetite to pursue matter further

 Solidarity-People Before Profit  TDs (from left) Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger, Richard Boyd Barrett and Gino Kenny. Photograph: Eamonn Farrell/

Solidarity-PBP had a surplus of €205,000 for the year

On November 15th, Charlie Flanagan, pictured, accused Alan Kelly of smearing him. “I will not have my good name and reputation traduced by Deputy Kelly both inside this house and outside this house,” he said. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Labour and Sinn Féin question Minister for Justice’s suitability for office

Former tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald  arriving  at Finnstown House Hotel, Lucan for the Fine Gael Dublin Mid-West general election convention after her resignation Tuesday. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

It looked like the Taoiseach had the upper hand but then came Monday’s game-changer

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is seen on Monday at the funeral of former TD Donal Creed in Cork on Monday. Mr Varadkar will resume talks on Monday with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin in a bid to avoid a general election. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Varadkar and Martin to resume talks tonight in a bid to avert general election

Political crisis redux: Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar are hard at it in pursuit of a resolution to this latest crisis. But will their efforts bear fruit?

Events have always conspired to derail the best laid plans of ministers and governments

Alexander Hotel in Dublin, venue for Saturday’s talks between Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Election decision set to go to the wire as secret Dublin talks fail to calm political crisis

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: restated on Saturday that he would not seek Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald’s resignation. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Election looms as late-night meeting between Varadkar and Martin fails to end crisis

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald: under pressure from  Opposition. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Varadkar and Martin will meet Sunday night as talks to avoid election enter ‘sensitive phase’

Mary-Lou McDonald speaking at the Sinn Féin ardfheis in November. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Party’s first southern leader since 1983 will confirm a gradual shift in decision making from North

 Ballot boxes before their distribution to polling stations. The Constitution provides that a general election must be held within 30 days pf the President  dissolving the Dáil.   Photograph: Alan Betson

If Varadkar and Martin fail to reach agreement there are three likely scenarios

Harry McGee outlines three scenarios that may unfold in coming days

Leo Varadkar: Wasn’t going to fire Frances Fitzgerald. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Inside Politics: Taoiseach backs Frances Fitzgerald amid Fianna Fáil motion of no confidence

Saga involving Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe had its beginnings over a decade ago. An end is not yet in sight. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins

Timeline: Story of Garda whistleblower led from complaint made in early 2006

An April 2017 photograph of Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and former Garda commissioner Nóirín O Sullivan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Inside Politics: Tánaiste’s account relating to Maurice McCabe’s treatment at O’Higgins commission contains gaps

Tánaiste and former minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald said a controversial email was unearthed in her department only last Thursday and until it came to light, she had had no memory of it.

Background: Another embarrassing disclosure for Government

Barry Walsh is the vice chairman of the Fine Gael executive council.

Party member ‘deeply regrets tone and language’ in some Tweets and apologises

Barry Walsh is a member  of the Fine Gael executive council.

Surprising that FG executive council member not pulled up on posts before this week

Fine Gael National Executive member Barry Walsh who faces a party  disciplinary process over abusive tweets. Rolling News

Member of FG National Executive used term ‘bitch’ to describe women on social media

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will outline plans for his future at the weekend.

Party to vote on motion calling for repeal of 8th Amendment at Ard Fheis

House prices have increased by over 450 per cent since 1995

Inside Politics: ESRI predicts prices will increase 20 per cent over the next three years

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy:  will bring a memorandum to Cabinet looking to reduce the size of local electoral areas within councils. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Report favours single mayor elected every five years, with strong executive powers

The Policing Authority is understood to have asked for approval to appoint a police officer from the PSNI to the rank of Garda Superintendent. Photograph: Alan Betson.

Policing Authority makes its first senior appointment from ranks of North’s police service

Most people have done things they regret when intoxicated.

Indisputable that other states spend less and have better health services, says Taoiseach

The Simon Community tweeted: “Other countries use a broader definition of homelessness when gathering their statistics.” File photograph: Getty Images

Taoiseach backs claim that housing strategy works in comparison to other countries

Leo Varadkar during his leadership campaign launch earlier this year. Friday night’s speech at the Fine Gael National Conference will be a test of his appeal to younger voters. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Taoiseach will talk about Republic of Opportunity, but won’t mention rival parties

Séamus Morris: “Having been subjected to a litany of bullying behaviour by some party members seeking to stymie honesty and transparency, I cannot continue to support or be a member of the Sinn Féin party,” he said.

More than 10 councillors have resigned or been expelled from party in past year

Photograph:  Joe St Leger

Liability caused by application of mortgage interest relief after wrongful switching

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