Taoiseach again parries Opposition questions about cost of National Development Plan ads

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald smiled when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar welcomed her as a new leader, then gave him a look which said, “thanks, now get on with your answer.”

Taoiseach turns on the charm with Sinn Féin leader, but his ‘strategic communication’ backfires

 Cabinet special meeting in the Institute of Technology Sligo: it was “a great day for Ireland” said Heather Humphreys. Photograph: Alan Betson

Cabinet decamps to Sligo for day-long orgy of unveiling in style of old Fianna Fáil playbook

The team in Stormont, with Leo Varadkar and Theresa May in the centre. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

The official photo at Stormont didn’t look great, much to Joan Burton’s dismay

 Mary Lou McDonald:   “I believe in reaching out,” she said. “I believe in standing my ground too.” Photograph Nick Bradshaw

There was lots of talk of shoes too – as in not filling Gerry Adams’ Crocs – as the new leader of Sinn Féin was installed

 Independent Mattie McGrath was among those to contribute as the Dáil debated the latest developments in the broadband plan. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Katherine Zappone says yes to the dress as Mattie McGrath plays the self-blame game

Independent TD brothers Danny and Michael Healy-Rae in the Dáil, which had to be suspended for five minutes after a shouting match between TDs over speaking rights. Photograph: Oireachtas/PA Wire

Smiling Taoiseach savours the in-house Dáil entertainment as brothers row with MacSharry

Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring: proof of Leo Varadkar’s rural bona fides.  Photograph: Eric Luke

With the Pro-Rural Lifers facing off against the Fancy-Dan Dubs, the muck is flying

These days, the Seanad is temporarily housed in an oversized room on loan from the National Museum. It is mere minutes away from the Dáil chamber, thanks to the OPW knocking down a party wall. Photograph: MaxwellPhotography.ie

Potential abolition will not be revisited. He sounded rather regretful, but dem’s the breaks

 Frances Fitzgerald arriving at the disclosures tribunal in Dublin Castle on Wednesday.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Former minister for justice gives another masterclass in forgetfulness at tribunal

‘Where Leo Varadkar’s moment was concerned, it was widely described as ‘historic’ and ‘a watershed’ and, of course, ‘seismic’.’ Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

There was hardly a peep about the big issue of the day while the Taoiseach was in the Dáil

“Oy, get your hands off my Dingle . . .” The man in the map of Ireland costume at Cheltenham in 2012. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Getty Images

Miriam Lord’s Week: ‘Hostess’ agency sent map-of-Ireland man to Cheltenham

 Sgt Maurice McCabe, Michael McDowell SC, and his solicitor Kathryn Ward, arriving at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

To think Nóirín O’Sullivan wasn’t aware of dangerous ripples is hard to credit

Late Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan’s mother, Eileen and daughters, Molly and Dakota follow behind as her coffin  is carried at her  funeral  at the Church of St Ailbe, Ballybricken, Limerick. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin.

She may have been globally famous, but in Limerick she was one of the O’Riordans

Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at the disclosures tribunal in Dublin Castle on Monday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Miriam Lord: Former Garda commissioner says she ‘absolutely’ supported McCabe

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin outlined his views on the abortion amendment in the Dáil on Thursday and caused astonishment  across the political spectrum.

FF leader’s support for abortion access up to 12 weeks sends shockwaves to Ireland’s DNA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  and Nigel Farage at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. They both look very happy as they enjoy a pre-lunch glass of bubbly

Nigel Farage happy to get on like a house on fire with Varadkar and his people

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s wide-ranging speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg took in issues such a Brexit, climate change, European unity, tax issues and migration. Photograph: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images

Taoiseach charms MEPs in Strasbourg with personal touch about British-Irish relationship

Justice swamp: former minister Frances Fitzgerald with former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Martin marched his party up and down hills, Kenny departed, Varadkar got the top job

Politician of the Year Paschal Donohoe: “A consummate media performer, popular with the public and his party, he rarely puts a foot out of place and is always there at his leader’s shoulder.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

‘Consummate media performer’ Paschal Donohoe scoops Politician of the Year Award

Leo Varadkar on the first day of Luas passenger services on the Green Line extension. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

And nuptials and novelty ties filled the Oireachtas with love and Christmas cheer

Campaign badges to support repeal of  Eighth Amendment. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

No denying magnitude of majority decision to support removal of Eighth Amendment

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would not like to see any of Creative Ireland’s money going on the RTÉ orchestras. Photograph: Dáil/PA Wire

Fianna Fáil leader urges Taoiseach to strike supportive note about ‘national treasure’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visits St Laurence O’Toole girls’ national school in Seville Place, Dublin, on Thursday. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

‘World’s Best Taoiseach’ mug steals show as Varadkar’s cup runneth over

The Taoiseach did a double take. A Healy-Rae threatening eternal damnation is not to be trifled with. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Then Mick Wallace was on to the pesto. And the hokey-cokey. We were agog

  Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail turns  on the Oireachtas Christmas tree lights at Leinster House. He was joined  by Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Denis O’Donovan, party leaders and other members of the Oireachtas with music and song provided by the Oireachtas choir and the Cavan Rugby Club male voice choir. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Parties present united front against hard border after May’s hames of Brexit deal

Former tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald: When in doubt, just forget. Photograph: Tom Honan

After the recent outbreak of amnesia in Kildare Street, I've conveniently forgotten everything

The Taoiseach's forthcoming trip to Brussels for a crucial European Council meeting might just be the thing to buff up his tarnished halo. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Passionate Howlin pressures Taoiseach over Brexit and the ‘Irish question’

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and his predecessor Frances Fitzgerald. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

Best gag? Flanagan saying thanks for questions leading to Government’s near downfall

Micheál may yet take Frances to appease the gods of Fianna Fáil. Photograph: The Irish Times

There is fear and loathing in Leinster House as TDs face a complete Christmas stuffing

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: absolutely seething with his Ministers for showing him up in the Dáil and putting his Government under threat. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Enda Kenny said nothing about Fitzgerald crisis – but he allowed himself a little smile

Tánaiste and former minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald: Both Micheál Martin and Mary Lou McDonald excoriated the Taoiseach and his beleaguered Minister for changing timelines and details as information evolved. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister clings to mantra of ‘no hand, act, or part’ in McCabe email controversy

Frances Fitzgerald: The jury was out last night as to whether she did enough to keep her job. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The McCabe email business threatens Tánaiste’s job, even if nobody is 100% sure why

Voting at the Sinn Fein ardfheis. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

During his final ardfheis speech as SF leader, Adams is canonised by the party faithful

Thankfully George Hook will soon return from suspension to keep things masculine

Leo’s conference speech performance at the weekend received what might be charitably described as a ‘mixed reception’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach’s ardfheis quip provokes a precisely-aimed zinger from Dara Calleary

Tipperary TD Michael Lowry: his contribution to Leaders’ Questions will most certainly win gag of the week, if not the entire Dáil session.  Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Tipperary TD’s concern about what banks are doing with SBCI money rings hollow

The  delegation of TDs and Senators who met Boris Johnson on Monday in the foreign office in London

Miriam Lord’s week: The Brexit saga rumbles on, but what could Theresa be trying to tell the DUP?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: seemed preoccupied with trying to figure out how he might prise his hands from the lectern, to which they seem to have been nailed for his rather robotic performance. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne

Taoiseach’s debut address lacks spark but earnestly distributes content to faithful

Was it something I said? Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was a bit lost for the offending word. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Dáil sketch: What rude word did Micheál Martin utter to get Leo in such a lather?

Minister for Transport Shane Ross: greeted large group of constituents from the Men’s Shed in Ballinteer in the visitors’ bar in Leinster House. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Transport nowhere to be seen in Dáil despite 24-hour rail strike

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. “If High-Vis Varadkar had a favourite meal, it would be fresh sod and (video) clips.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Taoiseach turns himself into shovel-ready project as he makes big announcements

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: on the warpath, with second World War fighter planes on his socks.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Donohoe assures Dáil he will take ‘activist actions’ – in about six months’ time

Paschal, The Admonisher:  will he become The Paschalator and end up with the banks walking all over him?   Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

It’s Swindlers’ List, and we’ve been Taken. Time for Liam Neeson’s particular set of skills?

At the EU summit in Brussels, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was busy collecting the mobile-phone numbers of the other prime ministers. Photograph: Aurore Belot/AFP/Getty Images

Party seeks way to avoid Varadkar ardfheis address clashing with Ireland v Denmark

“I mean, €30 is a bottle of wine,” proclaimed Gerry Adams loftily, looking over at the government benches, as TDs around the chamber snapped to attention and the first incredulous squeak rose from an alert backbencher.   File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

SF chief fluffs lines on pensions and you could see he felt he had been treated very Chablis

The An Post logo. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Taoiseach cites French voting patterns as a reason to keep post offices from closing

 Delegates attending the Fianna Fáil Ardfheis had to choose between the Halloween “scare house” on Simmonscourt Road or the “Ireland for All” hot-air house on Merrion Road. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Micheál Martin heads decisively in wobbly straight line with a leftish limp at the event

The Cabinet discussed Brexit and the health service at its meeting in UCC on Friday. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Cabinet parks tanks on Micheál Martin’s lawn as party ardfheis opens in Dublin

Stepping out: Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe leaving RTÉ Radio Centre after his appearance on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Miriam Lord: Micheál Martin’s ‘fake outrage’ gets a bad review from drama critic Varadkar

Raining maps and cogs: Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe shows off Budget 2018. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The only surprise? That people were surprised there was no surprise

His sporting week:  Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  at Sport Ireland’s launch of   ‘Get Ireland Walking’ campaign. Photograph:  Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Taoiseach feeds the faithful, Dáil bingo on the way and Clare Daly keeps it real

Leo Varadkar: loves a good compliment and got far too many from Gerry Adams and Bríd Smith. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

The pair tickled each other’s bellies in the Dáil, leaving hacks green about the gills

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald clashed in the Dail over the NI Executive. Image: Oireachtas TV

Taoiseach’s ill-considered barbs in Dáil insufficient evidence for finding of sexism

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald clashed in the Dail over the NI Executive. Image: Oireachtas TV

Mary Lou McDonald thrown out of Dáil as Taoiseach avoids bank questions

The Seanad’s first sitting in the Ceramics Room of the National Museum. “It is good to have a rendition of the American president in one of the cherubs,” said Michael McDowell. Photograph: Maxwell

National Museum’s ceramics room perfect place for members to let off unscented gas

President Michael D Higgins visits the under 40 horse plough competition on the opening day of the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Co Offaly. Photograph: Laura Hutton/Collins Photo Agency

Independents want a race, but Uachtaráin na hÉireann is leaving us all in limbo

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the third and final day of the National Ploughing Championships. Photograph: Alan Betson

The flesh-pressing is a work in progress for Varadkar – but he is trying very hard

Rosa (For Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism & Austerity) campaigners dressed as handmaids pass anti-abortion activists at Leinster House. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Miriam Lord: It wasn’t long before Leo was banging the drum for people in the middle

Some game: the All-Ireland senior football championship final at Croke Park, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

All-Ireland final proved an incredible sporting occasion – one it’ll take a while to get over

The fiscal space is this big: Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former CNN presenter Gina London and former deputy first minister Mark Durkan at the Kennedy Summer School. Photograph: Mary Browne

The former taoiseach dispensed with wisdom at the Kennedy Summer School

Gerry Adams, (perpetual) president of Sinn Féin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sense of relief at the news was such that everyone almost kept a straight face

Galway fans celebrate beating Waterford in the All-Ireland senior hurling final. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Miriam Lord: The two sets of fans well-versed in disappointment got along famously

This week, from Lismore to Portlaw and Tallow to Tramore, big John Mullane’s (ever so slightly adapted) words are everywhere: “I Loves Me County.” Photograph: Patrick Browne

Miriam Lord: Déise gripped by All-Ireland fever as supporters hope to end 58-year wait

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross: well-meaning efforts at sparkling banter. Photograph: Maxwell’s

Boredom prompts Winston Churchtown to compose doggerel about Fianna Fáil counterpart

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen with wife Mary after he was  conferred with an honorary doctorate of law. Photograph: Alan Betson

Dublin Castle gathering of Fianna Fáil from different era hears defiant Brian Cowen

Cheesy photo op Award: A shot taken from the Twitter feed of Leo Varadkar of himself and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau jogging in Phoenix Park, Dublin in July. File photograph: @campaignforleo/PA Wire

Dáil movers, shakers, losers and inbetweeners: A selection from the corridors of power

Leo Varadkar and his party faithful: Ministers have been instructed to attend Leaders’ Questions. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Galvanising presence: Taoiseach rallies the troops for Leaders’ Questions

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy was told by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that he should apologise to Joan Burton and Karen O’Connell over the Jobstown incident. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Solidarity TD calls for inquiry into Garda evidence as Taoiseach denounces ‘thuggery’

Micheál Martin, a veteran of many manufactured hissy-fits in the phoney wars before the Dáil goes on long breaks, was growing weary of the arguing.  Photograph: Collins

Miriam Lord: Despite the hissy fits, TDs unite in the name of the summer recess

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker speaks in the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France. Photograph: EBS via AP

Meanwhile, Leo proves to be the perfect host as Fine Gael looks forward to summer nights

The Green Party at the launch of its deposit refund proposal. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

As Green Party leader produces rubbish from a bag, Gallagher is beside himself

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar models his maple-leaf- and Mountie-emblazoned socks alongside Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, at Farmleigh on Tuesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Leo Varadkar and Justin Trudeau could be mistaken for a 1990s boy band reunion

Is Stephen Donnelly in danger of becoming Fianna Fáil’s version of George Lee? File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Frankie goes to Hollywood while Oireachtas’ golfers made to feel special in Killarney

Mary Lou McDonald:  Did someone mention the bins?  Photograph: Alan Betson

‘Taoiseach, I want to raise with you the latest debacle over bin charges...’ Gulp.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross. The judicial appointments reform legislation is widely seen as his pet project. Photograph: Alan Betson

Shane Ross not present for Leaders’ Questions as Varadkar and Martin manoeuvre

Máire Whelan has her appointment to the  Court of Appeal rubberstamped by President Michael D Higgins, as crafty Leo looks on. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Once Máire Whelan’s appointment was rubberstamped, Micheál was shooting blanks

On the warpath: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin strode into the Dáil  with the air of a man spoiling for a fight over the appointment of former attorney general Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Dáil Sketch: The FF-ers rattled their swords, but their leader was forced to retreat – for now

‘When it comes to holding her own under intense questioning, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is very impressive.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

It’s hard work listening to O’Sullivan as she relays her grand plan to re-energise the force

It took Leo Varadkar two days to make a comment on the controversy. Guess what? What they did was legal. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Máire Whelan controversy is like Enda stashing a dead fish behind the radiator

'At this stage, Enda Kenny’s hands were getting more animated with his asides. We didn’t know whether he was giving Leo tips about government or explaining the size of a fish he caught.' Photograph: Maxwell Photography

The new Taoiseach looked a bit overawed, but at least this time he didn’t fall over and get his lovely white John Travolta trouser(...)

President Michael D Higgins with his wife, Sabina, as Taoiseach Enda Kenny leaves Áras an Uachtaráin after delivering his letter of resignation to the President. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Miriam Lord: Would he well up? He didn’t, on this day every prime minister dreads

Leo Varadkar’s parents, Miriam and Ashok, at home in Blanchardstown. Photograph: Alan Betson

Miriam Lord pays a house call to Miriam and Ashok, the parents of our next taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan were honoured at the event.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Taoiseach gets emotional at Farmleigh dinner suggested by Varadkar and Donohoe

 Thomas Byrne with  Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin  and Dara Calleary  during a Fianna Fail press briefing on the plinth. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Latest round of negotiations shouldn’t be too taxing for newly installed FG chief

Leo Varadkar: the new leader of Fine Gael and Ireland’s next Taoiseach. Photograph: Alan Betson

Miriam Lord: His mum cried. His dad beamed. Ireland changed

Screen grab of Taoiseach Enda Kenny during his final appearance at Leaders’ Questions: Regrets? He’s had a few. But then again, too few to mention.

Taoiseach bows out of leadership with advice for replacement in hot seat

Taoiseach Enda Kenny might think he was thrown under the bus, but he wasn’t. Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire

New FG leader will probably charge on to political pitch like a sub on All-Ireland day

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney debate with each other at the start of hustings. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The final hustings in Cork was a battle of Simonomics versus Leo-liberalism

For the second Fine Gael leadership debate at IT Carlow last night, Simon Coveney’s team was allocated the “Spinning Room”, while Leo Varadkar’s team was given the “Activity  Room” For the second Fine Gael leadership debate at IT Carlow last night, Simon Coveney’s team was allocated the “Spinning Room”, while Leo Varadkar’s team was given the “Activity  Room”

Simon needs six turncoats to beat Varadkar – which could never happen in politics

 Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed. There is a lot of interest in his  intentions due to his special status as The Quiet Man. Word is that he isn’t going to name a name until the weekend hustings are over – if at all

Miriam Lord: Do Rebel County politicians miss the big picture if one of their own is involved?

’Taoiseach Enda Kenny has done his time.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Coveney’s Legion of the Rearguard take to the hills, giving Leo time to check his phone

Enda only told his closest advisors he was resigning minutes before he left for the meeting.

Taoiseach only told closest advisors he was resigning minutes before he left for meeting

Lifting the cup(cake): Fine Gael leadership candidate Leo Varadkar  and  Paschal Donohoe  serve up coffee and cupcakes on Leo Street in Dublin, as Donohoe announces his support for Varadkar.  Photograph: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Varadkar speaks of someone important to him who is ‘unconditionally on side’

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe on Leo Street in Dublin on Friday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Defiant Simon Coveney vows to fight despite rival’s near-unassailable lead

Taoiseach Enda Kenny launching the Finite Lives report by Senator Marie-Louise O’Donnell at Government Buildings. He then announced he was  stepping down. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Emotions run high as Taoiseach finally announces he will be ‘gone by midnight’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny:  imminent retirement was on his mind. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Prospect of Kenny-Adams partnership provokes hilarity as Taoiseach ponders retirement

Kate Madden of  Loreto College on St Stephen’s Green, explains her project Will Eating a Mars Bar Increase the Average Speed of a Galloping Pony?  to President Michael D Higgins back in 2013. Photograph: Eric Luke

Royals delight in horse diets, Taoiseach goes for cycle and RTÉ pol corr shows how to exit

The Duchess of Cornwall meeting the stallion Invincible Spirit as she visits the Irish National Stud in Kildare. Photograph:  Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

Camilla at National Stud declares: ‘I’m coming back here every year until I drop!’

Prince Charles, President Michael D Higgins, his wife Sabina and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in the gardens at Áras an Uachtaráin, Dublin. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Charles and Camilla do not mention the B-word during their trip to the Áras

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