The recent rise in Covid-19 cases has led to uncertainty over whether the Government should proceed with plans to ease the majority of remaining pandemic restrictions from next Friday.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Prof Philip Nolan says balance between high levels of vaccination and transmission risk going in ‘wrong direction’

The Government expects the National Immunisation Advisory Council  to support the rollout of booster vaccination to healthcare workers and those aged 60 and over

Niac to provide advice on Monday regarding booster shots

Over-60s would receive shots in their GP surgeries, while mass-vaccination centres could be restarted before the end of the month. Photograph: Narong Sangnak/EPA

‘Thunderbirds are go’ once Niac advice given, says Government source

Intensive care: Ireland’s healthcare system can handle about 400 hospitalised Covid patients. On Friday, 413 people were in hospital with the disease. Photograph: Juan Mabromata/AFP via Getty

Nphet’s key metrics are on the rise a week before the final restrictions were due to be lifted

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said ‘the trajectory of the disease has taken a wrong turn’ as  2,066 cases were reported on Wednesday.  Photograph: Mark Marlow/PA Wire

Taoiseach says he can’t guarantee final unwinding of restrictions on October 22nd

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary party meeting that the decision to send ministers to the service of reflection and hope was ‘in the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement’. Photograph: Daragh Mac Sweeney/Provision

Many FF TDs supported President’s decision to not attend religious ceremony

Under the terms of the proposed scheme, childcare providers will be asked to freeze  fees charged to parents in exchange for a new funding scheme designed to improve terms and conditions for the sector. Photograph: Frank Perry/AFP/Getty Images

Owners tell Minister for Children they have concerns over €200m budget intervention

A  briefing on the Covid-19 situation was given by Dr Ronan Glynn (left), the deputy chief medical officer, and Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Group, to the Government’s Covid-19 Oversight Group. Photograph: Alan Betson

Officials warned that virus situation in State has taken turn for the worse

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Photo

Ramped-up spending to cover social welfare, housing, health, education and easing tax burden

Limerick TD Willie O’Dea of Fianna Fáil said the €5 increase in the pension  “isn’t going to compensate people for price rises”.

Coalition TDs ponder impact of aspects of tax and spending plan on different sectors of society

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath at Government Buildings on Tuesday. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Donohoe and McGrath defend scale of measures on home-building and childcare

Budget 2022 is expected to amount to about €4.7 billion, of which €1 billion is believed to be available for new spending with €500 million allocated for tax measures.

Remote working relief worth about €100 a year, €5 welfare increase, minimum wage up 30c

Budget 2022: Spending on a women’s health package will quadruple to €20m.

Discussions over winter fuel scheme ongoing, with expansion of Deis scheme close

Under the new NDP, for the first time projects will undergo a climate and environmental assessment, along with an assessment of the alignment of the plan as a whole with the ‘ideals of a green recovery plan’. File photograph: Getty

Former minister critical of Green Party’s agenda of carbon-proofing future investments

Google’s data centre at Prospect Park, Clondalkin, which ranks as one of the most efficient in the world. File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Ex-chief of Climate Change Advisory Council says further building should not be encouraged

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath pictured last week. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Target is ‘package that seeks to support people and improve living standards’, he says

 Laura Magahy: former executive director of the Sláintecare Programme Implementation Office Slaintecare. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Stephen Donnelly immersed in first full-blown non-Covid health controversy

 Moves to ban forcing people to retire before the State pension age will be welcomed by unions, but resisted by employers. Photograph: Tom Honan

Government must address competing priorities on hot potato of old-age payment

Thousands of homeowners affected by mica, and their supporters, protest in Dublin. Photograph: Laura Hutton

‘We did nothing wrong’: Mica homeowners protest in Dublin

Heather Humphreys, pictured at the  launch of a cybercrime awareness campaign this week, will bring pension commission recommendations to Cabinet on Thursday.

New hospitals and electricity supply among items also on agenda

Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe said it is the ‘right decision’, ‘made in the interests of our country’. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Firms making less than €750m a year will be taxed at previous rate of 12.5%

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney says issue will be discussed today. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

President Michael D Higgins chose not to attend commemoration for NI centenary

Poll shows Sinn Féin has the support of almost a third of voters at 32 per cent. The poll totals 101% due to rounding up

Inside Politics: Picture is dimmer again for Fine Gael and Leo Varadkar

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is setting up a new taskforce to take on waiting lists, modelling on the vaccine taskforce.

Róisín Shortall describes changes to oversight of universal health plan as a ‘hostile takeover’

Stephen Donnelly and his secretary general, Robert Watt, are giving an update on the implementation of Sláintecare

Inside Politics: Minister and secretary general Robert Watt will give update on implementation of plan for healthcare reform

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar; Taoiseach Micheál Martin; Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath and Minister for Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan  at the National Development Plan 2021-2030 launch at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

Coalition faces criticism over lack of specifics on key projects including Metrolink scheme

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan agreed it is important repuatationally that Ireland sign up to the tax deal now. Photograph: Tom Honan

Green Party leader indicates it could be important reputationally for Ireland to sign up

The Coalition will be tested as individual sectoral emissions limits are set

Inside Politics: All sides of the Coalition can indulge in a bit of cakeism over the National Development Plan

Darragh O’Brien has been accused of trying to ‘share blame’ with opposition parties on the issue of Mica redress. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Darragh O’Brien seeks opinions on issue from Opposition spokespeople on housing

Those running creches and other childcare settings report challenges in attracting people into the sector. Photograph: iStock

Union to tell committee Ireland spends 0.3% of GDP on early years services and education

Claire Kerrane: ‘You have to make choices and we’ll make our choices in raising additional revenue from people who can afford it most.’ Photograph: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek/Getty

‘We will show down to the red cent how everything will be paid for,’ says Kerrane

The €165bn   plan was agreed amid pressure on Minister for Public Expenditure Michael Mr McGrath from Fianna Fáil backbenchers over spending on regional roads projects. Photograph: Getty Images

National Development Plan, to be published on Monday, will include more than 50 projects with a price tag of more than €100m

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: The issue of a bonus was “very challenging” due to the many groups seeking recognition for their work during the pandemic.

Tendering issues and unspent balances pose problems amid fears of scheme being divisive

The reform committee will be chaired by Kildare North Fianna Fáil TD James Lawless. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

‘Commission on the Aims and Objectives of Fianna Fáil’ formed in wake of 2020 election losses

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. Photograph: Alan Betson

Concerns that wording could leave room for open-ended future rises may be assuaged

Jack Horgan-Jones on whether the Government has hit on the perfect way to divide a nation (almost) united by Covid-19

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said the term ‘birth mother’ is set to be dropped from legislation on adoption and tracing working its way through the Oireachtas. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Term ‘birth mother’ to be dropped from legislation on adoption, says O’Gorman

 Minister of State with Responsibility for Law Reform James Browne TD,Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys  and Minister for Children, Equality Disability Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman at a press conference at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos

Roderic O’Gorman says those arriving would not be going to direct provision

 Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar on the proposed pandemic bonus: ‘It’s something we want to do. We think it’s right that the extraordinary work done by so many people is recognised in some way.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Talks about reward for efforts during pandemic could go beyond budget day, says Tánaiste

An Afghan refugee looks at her 16-day-old baby at the Vathy camp, waiting to be transferred to the new Samos RIC, the first of five new ‘closed’ migrant camps, on the island of Samos, Greece. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images

Cabinet also to consider changes to legislation on freedom of information

According to data published earlier this month, there are more than 900,000 people on a hospital waiting list in the State. Photograph: Frank Miller

Minister seeks millions in funding for team focused on bringing down wait times

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly at LauraLynn Children’s Hospice on Monday as the charity announced significant plans for expansion. Photograph: Andres Poveda

Surplus shots in booster programme for residents ‘may be used’ for first doses

The joint committee on children, equality, disability integration and youth is carrying out pre-legislative scrutiny on the general scheme of the Birth Information and Tracing Bill. Photograph: iStock

Some mothers find term ‘reductive and hurtful’; no alternative chosen yet

Sipo has sharply criticised Renua for failing to comply with its obligations to detail how it spent State funding for the second year in a row. Photograph: iStock

State’s political ethics watchdog criticises Renua for failing to comply with obligations

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar argued in the Dáil that linking rents to inflation was a rent freeze in real terms. Photograph: Getty Images

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien says he is ‘acutely aware’ inflation has begun to rise

A ransomware attack in May on the Health Service Executive’s IT systems wreaked havoc across the health service. Photograph: iStock

NCSC does not have ‘capacity’ to meet goals and faces ‘strain’ over planned EU initiatives

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told gathering that ‘ultimately it’s not the Government that pays for this, it’s . . . the average working person.’

Parliamentary party meeting hears support for 100% redress to remedy defective buildings

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.  Photograph: Alan Betson /

Meeting told Ireland has highest cumulative uptake of full vaccination among adults in the EU

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Ossian Smyth told the committee that a new headquarters for the NCSC is likely to cost in the single-digit millions. File photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Minister says two reports into HSE hack underway and will be published ‘shortly’

Martin Fraser will be asked to explain when precisely Katherine Zappone’s name was communicated to the Department of the Taoiseach. Photograph: GIS

Department secretary general to be asked when precisely former minister’s name was communicated

Taoiseach Micheál Martin attending the UN general assembly with Ireland’s ambassador to the UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason, and  Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. Photograph: Department of Foreign Affairs/Twitter

Martin cites ‘challenges ahead’ with energy supplies but rules out banning new data centres

 Workers who have been receiving the pandemic unemployment payment and who are now being made redundant can receive a special payment. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

State to pay up to €1,860 to workers who received PUP and end up losing their jobs

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterpriser Leo Varadkar (centre): ‘What has worked for us is having a low rate of corporation profit tax.’ Photograph: Alan Betson/ The Irish Times

Tánaiste says Ireland’s 12.5% rate would remain for businesses with turnover less than €750m

Taoiseach’s words on tax rate may signal a shift in Government policy. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

Inside Politics: Taoiseach’s answer misleadingly banal but importance cannot be understated

Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Minister for Justice to seek permission to halt proposed changes because of concerns

Managing the scarring effects of Covid-19 on the labour market and the financial legacy of the pandemic will be key threats to Irish competitiveness in the coming period, the Government will be warned. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Government to be warned over impact of scarring effect of pandemic on labour market

Larry Bass, who has resigned from the board of RTÉ after just eight weeks in the role. Photograph:  ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

His resignation comes in wake of comments made to media last weekend that his appointment had ‘upset a number of people’

Pope Francis and President Michael D Higgins   in Rome: The Government is expected to send a Minister as a delegate to the Armagh church service marking a centenary of partition and creation of Northern Ireland. Photograph:  Maxwells/Vatican

President said title of service marking partition was not a ‘neutral statement politically’

President Higgins criticised both Mr Bruton’s interpretation of the constitution and also the tone of his reference to credit unions. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Former taoiseach says he stands over initial interpretation of the Constitution

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris during a visit to Technological University Dublin on Thursday.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Minister says claims he was behind Cabinet leak was ‘misuse of Dáil privilege’

The pre-budget papers argue there is little justification for improving tax relief available to people working from home. Photograph: iStock

Covid depletion of social insurance fund may see rate rise from current 4% to 5.5% by 2025

Nphet anticipate that the requirement for children who are close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case to stay off school is likely to be eased from the week beginning September 27th. Photograph: iStock

Those who show symptoms will still have to stay away from school under plan discussed by Nphet

Increases in PRSI for workers and employers to address a Covid-driven increase in the social insurance fund deficit have been examined by officials ahead of the budget. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

Options aim to address expected €4.2bn social insurance fund deficit at year-end

Simon Harris: ‘Yesterday I was named in this House in my unavoidable absence. What was said in my view was a misuse of Dáil privilege and I want the record of this House to show it was untrue.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister ‘strongly considering’ complaint against Matt Carthy to Oireachtas committee

Minister for Sport Catherine Martin is to write to the race organisers outlining the Government’s position. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Ministers not rejecting bid but need more time to do due diligence, says spokesman

Darkside performing at The Button Factory in Dublin. The initial return of the nightclub sector will be marked by a 60% capacity pilot event, which will feature antigen testing, at the city centre  venue. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Minister says Irish cities ‘way behind’ Europe as taskforce calls for reform of licensing laws

Minister for Arts and Culture Catherine Martin wrote: ‘The very least they deserve is for you to meet them to explain and justify your reasons for the lack of an appropriate and fair reopening plan.’ Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Dublin

Catherine Martin said she could not stand by as entertainment sector treated with ‘inequity’

 Any delays to the implementation of the white paper on direct provision - introduced by Minister for Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman (above) - will see people languish in the system, Ihrec chief commissioner Sinéad Gibney will warn. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will warn commitments ‘are slipping’

Katherine Zappone is to be invited to give her side of the story over her appointment as a UN special envoy. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Former minister to be asked her side of story over her appointment as a UN special envoy

 Marc MacSharry  has written to party colleagues criticising how Fianna Fáil is being run and saying he has “no option but to resign the party whip”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Sligo-Leitrim TD votes no confidence in Simon Coveney and criticises how party is run

The report covers 36 proposed actions, including bringing more venues into late-night use by linking them with artists and promoters to provide new spaces for performance, and extending opening hours in cultural institutions. Photograph: iStock

Licensing law shake-up originally flagged earlier this year as part of Justice Plan 2021

Emirates Team New Zealand (right) competes against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli during race ten on day seven of the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland on March 17th, 2021. Photograph: Gilles Martin-Raget /AFP via Getty Images

Potential hosting of yacht race worth ‘full consideration’, says Catherine Martin

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan will say vaccines have ‘fundamentally changed the risk profile’ of Covid-19.  Photograph: Dave Meehan

Vigilance will be needed during winter due to Delta variant, according to CMO

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (centre) speaking to media at the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting at Trim Castle Hotel, Trim Co Meath. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tánaiste says ‘no question’ that rising materials costs is issue for construction sector

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (left) and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney speaking to the media at the Fine Gael think-in in Co Meath. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister says he is embarrassed over ‘fiasco’ surrounding UN special envoy role

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar: ‘We don’t want people to lose most of any pay rise they get next year to tax’

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan to use party’s think-in to outline his vision for the future of rail services

Fine Gael’s Co Meath think-in this week is likely to be overshadowed by the controversy over the Minister for Foreign Affair’s handling of the appointment of Katherne Zappone as special UN envoy. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Those in favour of new FF leader likely to back Coveney as losing whip would place them outside parliamentary party for six months

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said he was ‘very sad to lose people of the calibre of people that we have’. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

HSE chief unaware Magahy and Keane were unhappy with progress until they resigned

Stewards near Croke Park testing centre. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Nphet considers much more selective testing as vaccination mitigates harm from virus

High-speed rail journeys between Cork and Donegal could form part of a revamped rail network across the island of Ireland

Fine Gael and Greens meetings to be held in shadow of Coveney no-confidence motion

‘The success of the vaccination programme requires a fundamental re-evaluation of the approach to testing for Sars-CoV-2,’ writes Prof Cormican. Photograph: Francesca Volpi/Bloomberg

Experts say testing to remain part of daily life, but reduced risk will see it scaled back

HSE’s  chief executive Paul Reid said  the first time he became aware of the extent of their unhappiness was when they resigned last week. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Executive director and chairman of the programme resigned last week

Dublin North-West TD Róisín Shortall, said the party would support an anticipated Sinn Féin motion to be put down over Simon Coveney’s handling of the appointment of Katherine Zappone as a UN special envoy. File photograph: Collins

Appointment was a ‘ready up job for an ex-colleague’ says party co-leader

Tánaiste  Leo Varadkar will address a Fine Gael parliamentary party think-in next week. Photograph:  Maxwells

Fine Gael leader to line out against proposal designed to offset delay in pension changes

Former minister Katherine Zappone and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. ‘He didn’t take this seriously enough,’ said a party source. ‘He was offhand, he was dismissive…’

Insiders fear what the controversy says about the party after 10 years in power, and where it is going

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly acknowledged the ‘big imposition’ of isolation requirements. Photograph: iStock

As testing system comes under extreme pressure, Nphet considers easing of rules

Sinn Féin has called on the Taoiseach to state whether he has confidence in Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

TD says ‘all options on table’ surrounding Coveney’s involvement in Zappone row

The documents show  Ms Zappone contacted Mr Coveney  several times seeking updates on the role; Mr Coveney has said she did not lobby for the position.

Minister to face Opposition questions over process that ‘stinks to high heaven’

Minister for Foreign Affairs  Simon Coveney: His position has been described as ‘fundamentally undermined’ by  People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy. Photograph: Brian Lawless/ PA Wire

Reaction: Documents show Katherine Zappone ‘seriously lobbied’ three FG members

The HSE has indicated that positivity rates among 15-24 year olds is 15%, which is falling. Photograph: The Irish Times

Knock-on impact countrywide as up to 1,200 schools identify case of virus among students

The release of 100 records were prompted by 20 Freedom of Information requests concerning Katherine Zappone’s appointment as UN special envoy

Former minister texted Coveney in March thanking him for ‘incredible opportunity’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin shows his Covid Certificate  at Taste of Dublin. Photograph: Julien Behal.

HSE runs further walk-in clinics as Ireland leads EU table for highest incidence of virus

The HSE’s Niamh O’Beirne says the high testing demand among school-based close contacts was reflective of the level of Covid-19 in the community and not evidence of spread within schools. Photograph: Alan Betson

Surge in demand for HSE contact testing since classes resumed last week

Vessel owners will be required to distribute the payment to staff. Photograph: Donall Farmer

Payments can be claimed to mitigate effects of drop in fisheries quotas after Brexit

 The Government was told that “negative impacts” of testing are likely to become “disproportionate to the benefits to human health”. Photograph: Getty Images

HSE’s head of testing and tracing says there are no plans to scale down testing

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Vagueness of criteria set out in recommendations has raised eyebrows in Government

Public transport will return  to operating at full seating capacity as and from Wednesday. Photograph: Leah Farrell/

Taoiseach announces shift from restrictions to ‘judgment and responsibility’

 Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer, Department of Health, said the situation in Ireland was one of “high incidence with an uncertain trajectory”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Chief medical officer also warns that variant is less susceptible to vaccines

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said a winter vaccine booster programme would be announced in the coming weeks. Image: RTÉ Player

Venues will be allowed bigger crowds from Monday if all vaccinated

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