Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: There is  “a real absence of moral leadership from the top in the United States”. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Spurned Ministers carry on as before even though they have lost their seats

Michael Ring: ‘Whoever comes into government, I will see it as a slight on rural Ireland if the Department of Rural and Community Development is not left there.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Mayo TD had the air of a man presiding at the obsequies for his own ministry

Department of Health’s Jim Breslin: “There were no other beds on the island that we could get access to . . . If there were cheaper beds out there, we could have got them, but there weren’t.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Fire engine metaphors race to public-private hospital rescue

John Halligan cheered the incarcerated unfortunates in Leinster House on the hottest day of the year with radio comments about political collegiality and government formation. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

John raises cheers but fails to realise mutual dislike is no bar to unlikely political union

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was shooed away from the chamber by the Ceann Comhairle while his question and answer session was still in full swing

Mary Lou relishes the ‘benefit of great ventilation for all the hot air’ in the chamber

An image shared on social media at the weekend of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett meeting two friends in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Chestgate. Picnicgate. Posergate. Wickergate. Call it what you will. Varadkar did no harm

Labour Leader Alan Kelly on the plinth in Leinster House on Thursday.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Labour leader brings his stopwatch to give out about ‘bonkers’ health guidance for TDs

 Katherine Zappone: Many TDs thanked her for her work during her term of office

‘Unelected’ Zappone takes almost two hours of questions from the floor

People exiting Heuston station in Dublin on Tuesday, a day after phase one of Ireland’s five-phase exit plan was triggered. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Mathematics of doing Dáil business has reached levels of advanced calculus

 Labour  leader Alan Kelly at Leinster House on Thursday. ‘With each Dáil sitting and more unanswered questions, the colour-coded  Kelly alert level has been climbing.’  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Labour leader waves ‘explosive’ letter but Mattie McGrath blows his top completely

 The unsinkable Alan Shatter. Did he lay an egg along with everything else? Is there no end to the man’s talent?  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Motion to remove report critical of Alan Shatter from Dáil record thrown out for now

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “And Sinn Féin Ministers on their Facebook site promote the fact that they hand out food parcels to the poor – reminiscent to me of Donald Trump handing out toilet rolls.” Photograph: Leon Farrell

Varadkar awakes screaming from Leaving Cert nightmare to reality of Covid payments

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone. “As she has not reached the pandemic swaddling stage, the serving Minister for Children (without a seat) was able to report for duty.” Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall/PA

Zappone reports for duty in Leinster House as Ross remains in south Dublin cocoon

This time Leo addressed the nation from the bottom of the stairs.  And he skipped the poetry. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Slow and steady does it as Taoiseach unveils five-stage Covid Lockdown Exit plan

Danny Healy-Rae arrives at Leinster House for Thursday  afternoon’s Dáil session. Photograph:  Crispin Rodwell

Kerry TDs want UN to investigate China’s role in spread of coronavirus

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking in the Dáil on Thursday where social distancing measures were implemented

Dáil Sketch: Move to Convention Centre can’t come too soon for socially distancing TDs

‘I ask people to bear in mind that this is a virus that did not exist three or four months ago. It did not have a name two months ago.’

Will Micheál Martin ever get to sit in Leo’s seat? A political reshuffle of interest only to them

The brand new Finagle party will be seeking to woo smaller parties into joining it in government. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will be hoping his former coalition colleague, now Labour leader, Alan Kelly might be interested. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Smaller parties give short shrift to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s shameless wooing

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “We need to persevere and we need to maintain our discipline and resolve.” Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA

Three more weeks of restrictions as Leo quotes over-plundered Heaney

This isn’t Hungary. But Richard Boyd-Barrett has us worried now. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Dark day in the Dáil, as questions go unanswered by Ministers

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, HSE chief executive Paul Reid and Minister for Health Simon Harris in the conference centre at Citywest Hotel, Dublin, as preparations get under way for a Covid-19 isolation and step-down facility. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Ardfheiseanna in Citywest will never be the same again

Richard Boyd Barrett: ‘We need democracy to continue to function.’  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

People Before Profit leader ensures that Leo Varadkar will not lead us all up the Danube

Dublin Airport Police personnel applauding front-line healthcare workers tonight at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Julien Behal

Dáil debates emergency Covid-19 Bill, but there’s no debate about the need for speed

Minister for Health Simon Harris described an incident in which he was coughed on as  ‘surreal’. Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Simon Harris coughed at by middle-aged man ‘who looked pleased with himself’

A view of a man wearing a mask on O’Connell Bridge in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Signs for hope are outlined as the war Cabinet gives an update on The Emergency

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin  - or ‘Fianna Fáil 1’ - at Leinster House on Thursday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Few TDs in chamber as social distancing rules apply, but sense of foreboding in the air

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made a masterly speech on Tuesday: it was reasoned,  realistic yet reassuring. ‘One for the ages’. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Varadkar, supposedly a lame duck Taoiseach, enlists a scared nation to face the surge

 Dublin’s  O’Connell Street on St Patrick’s Day. Photograph: Tom Honan

As leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan was official ruler of Ireland for St Patrick’s Day

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Namaste greeting with US president Donald Trump meets with in the Oval Office. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

Varadkar sparks run on toilet roll back home before Dr Donald assures us virus is going away

Leo Varadkar presenting a bowl of shamrocks to Donald Trump in 2019. But what will happen this year? File photograph: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

Coronavirus made Leo a Riverdance no-show, saving himself for germaphobe Donald

 Seanad candidate Ruth Coppinger: the former  Solidarity TD took Senator Michael McDowell to task over his praise of ‘billionaire misogynist’ Mike Bloomberg. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

Ruth Coppinger goes on the attack while Justin Warfield warbles some old tunes

Knees up: Fianna Fáil Senator Diarmuid Wilson gets a friendly knee from Labour’s Alan Kelly  on the Plinth on Thursday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Man who hopes to take over from Howlin unapologetic

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during wreath-laying in the Garden of Remembrance during the first day of their three-day Irish visit. Photograph: Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images

It seems the Cambridges were well briefed on the political situation here in a non-partisan way

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: far from those good old days and the vacant seats on State boards which he  never got around to filling before calling the election.  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Negotiators declare what it might take to consider lending their brilliance to an administration

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald at Liberty Hall, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan

Another earthquake moment at Sinn Féin rally on a mission to disprove seismology isn’t everything

Cabinet trophies: Micheál Martin and his deputy Dara Calleary would be in the frame first for Fianna Fáil. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

An unholy marriage of FF and FG would badly squeeze Cabinet space for both parties

Members of the Healy-Rae family perform outside Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Early celebrations give way to gloom as a stable government remains a distant hope

Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd-Barrett and Mick Barry speak to media outside the Dáil. Photograph: Áine McMahon/PA Wire

New TDs shown around the Dáil chamber but all the action is on the plinth

‘The Sinn Féin leader was busy making as many grand entrances as she possibly could with her 36 strong Dáil team.’ Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA

Oireachtas staff supplied with handy mugshots of new TDs as parties descend

With his PLO scarf, hopalong foot, Bee-Gees hair and sweat shirt emblazoned with the image of Mexican revolutionary Emialiano Zapata, Gerry Adams somehow managed to be the centre of attention. Photograph: Gareth Chaney /Collins

Fianna Fáil queue up to give message of ABSF – ‘Anybody But Sinn Féin’

Social Democrat TDs Jennifer Whitmore, Cian O’Callaghan, Catherine Murphy, Róisín Shortall, Gary Gannon and Holly Cairns outside Leinster House on Wednesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Social Democrats savour dizzy heights of half dozen while Howlin steps down with little fuss

Mary Lou McDonald, president of Sinn Féin, and fellow party TD Eoin Ó Broin greet supporters on Moore Street, Dublin. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty

The one political present they don’t want might yet end up under the tree after all

At three minutes to six, Mary Lou McDonald was elected. There was a flurry of activity. At three minutes past six, she was gone. Photograph:  Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times

It was the best day ever for the Shinners’ leader and the biggest day ever for her party

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar buys more sausages in Ennis, Co Clare.  We can only hope somebody remembered to clear all the meat out of the BMW’s boot. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

‘An uncertain future to look forward to’ could be the real slogan for this campaign

Labour Party’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Ivana Bacik and Ged Nash: Mr Nash has just completed his second course of antibiotics having been laid low by the flu. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Eamon Ryan looks to a glowing green future as Soc Dems parade in purple

“Happy to change a nappy, but not to put up with this s***,” read one placard. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

These are the people ignored by the parties whose leaders look down on them from lampposts

Sinn Féin leader  Mary Lou McDonald arriving for  the final TV leaders’ debate at the RTÉ studios in Donnybrook, Dublin. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

The Sinn Féin strategy is to pack its leader in cotton wool and keep her out of harm’s reach

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin canvassing in Dún Laoghaire on Friday with the party’s candidate in the constituency, Juliet O’Connell. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Howlin seeks to sew things up in Dún Laoghaire with Juliet O’Connell

From left to right: Finian McGrath, Ruth Buchanon, John Halligan and Shane Ross on the campaign Trail in Ballinteer, Co Dublin.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

It’s all good fun, but Shane Ross is under no illusions Dublin Rathdown seat is in danger

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Rose Katherine Kennedy Townsend at the opening of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge in New Ross, co Wexford. Photograph: Patrick Browne

These were no ordinary candidates – they were junior ministerial candidates

 Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald launching her party’s General Election 2020 Manifesto in the Temple Bar Gallery and Studios. Photograph: Alan Betson

Mary Lou chooses big installation. The Labour Party goes for chiselled old masters

Building up his street cred: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael party members in Dublin city centre on Friday.  Photograph: Damien Eagers/The Irish Times

Taoiseach’s visit is latest in wave of politician invasions, but it wasn’t a complete washout

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  at a cultural and diversity class at Castleknock Community College, Dublin.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Micheál Martin forgot to mention he once had two double espressos in a pizza joint in Ballincollig

Candidate Paul Murphy speaking to Steven, Abbie and Billy Banks while canvassing in the Rossfield Avenue estate in Tallaght. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Richard Boyd Barrett insists his party was on the pension bandwagon before anyone else

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Dublin Bay North candidate David Healy and Dublin North-West candidate Caroline Conroy at Bull Island to launch the party’s Biodiversity and Pollution Policy Paper. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Eamon Ryan and team visit Bull Island to remind voters that climate crisis is no bull

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald visits the Purple House cancer support centre in Bray. Photograph: Oisin McCann

Party leader came to talk about health crisis and ended up on the gurney

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin canvassing for the upcoming general election in Cabra and Phibsborough, meeting hairdresser Erica Oragano and her client Dezirae Stephan. Photograph: Dave Meehan

‘I’d get the full Monty here,’ he declared, before focusing on a woman with her head in a basin

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney,  Paschal Donohoe and Heather Humphreys at the headquarters of Combilift Ireland on Wednesday. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Taoiseach brings his Presentables to Monaghan before undoing his good work

“The Taoiseach could have made his announcement indoors, but the imposing backdrop of Government Buildings was the perfect setting for a man being packaged in this election as a European statesman with proven leadership credentials on the international stage.” Photograph: Tom Honan

Rift in space-time continuum opens up as Fine Gael offers ‘a future to look forward to’

Our Politician of the Year is Sinn Féin’s deputy leader in the Dáil, Pearse Doherty,  whose work in taking on the insurance industry and keeping a spotlight on its practices has been a rare highlight.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Political awards for 2019: Gongs for Varadkar, Healy-Rae . . . and Bertie

Micheál Martin: ‘Perhaps Dara Murphy’s good fortune was that, unlike Deputy [Maria] Bailey, no opinion poll was done showing him to be a liability to Fine Gael.’ Photograph:

Leo opts not to spoil the mood with election date while campaign supplies are stockpiled

Dara Murphy: the former TD for Cork North central ‘formally’ resigned two weeks ago, but was gone in spirit  long before that. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader bicker over double-jobbing TD with eye on election

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Taoiseach’s father will celebrate 80th birthday in the land of his birth

Minister for Transport Shane Ross: the manner in which judges are appointed has always been at the top of his political wishlist. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Shane Ross’s pet project passes, but its opponents claim a Governmental U-turn

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris: a St Vincent de Paul report, Growing Up in the Cold, found 140,000 children are living in substandard, cold and damp homes. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

UN index that rated Ireland third-best country to live in in the world is Taoiseach's answer to questions about poverty and homele(...)

Dara Murphy registered his presence in Leinster House on 42 of the 104 sitting days in 2018. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

This week saw high-spirited dispatches from Gerry Adams and another twist in swing-gate

The burning question in Kildare Street switched from ‘Where is Dara Murphy?’ to ‘What has Dara Murphy got on Leo Varadkar?’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Leo’s claim for second term in doubt after Dara Murphy walks away with nice package

Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy at Leinster House on Wednesday. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘Air Miles’ Dara Murphy disappears again after confidence vote in Eoghan Murphy

Fine Gael’s Wexford byelection candidate Verona Murphy is pictured after being eliminated, at St Joseph’s Community Centre. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Party leaders make their excuses as their Wexford candidate fails to haul in votes

Flawless foundation: former taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons.

Election fever simmers as politicians begin stockpiling ammunition – against each other

Dara Murphy is stepping down as a TD with Fine Gael to take up a job in the cabinet of EU commissioner Mariya Gabriel. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Ireland’s loss is Europe’s gain as Fine Gael TD for Cork North-Central heads to Brussels

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar canvasses with Wexford byelection candidate Verona Murphy in Wexford town. Photograph: Fiach Kelly

Party leaders were keen to avoid mentioning Verona Murphy’s name, for different reasons

Soaking up the atmosphere: Mick Wallace in Brussels

Learjet woes, compo culture and Maria Bailey all made an appearance this week

So what answer did the broadband minister have to the charges that Fine Gael hijacked a non-partisan infrastructural project for its own ends? Answer came there none. Minister Richard Bruton completely ignored the question. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

Micheál Martin not happy as Fine Gael flock to broadband contract signing en masse

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and US businessman David McCourt signing the National Broadband plan at St Kevin’s National School in Co Wicklow. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Micheál Martin goes on attack as Opposition refuses to dance to Government’s tune

Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran had two videos running on Facebook – one for Longford and one for Westmeath. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Rivals claim Taoiseach was tweeting congrats to clubs in his constituency before deadline

Former speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow was the special guest keynote speaker for the County Kildare Chamber business breakfast at the K-Club. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan

The florid rabbiting of the former speaker, although entertaining, can become trying

Noel Grealish was nowhere near the Dáil chamber when Leaders’ Questions rolled around again. Photograph: Screengrab from Oireachtas TV

Independent TD’s provocative question leads to a second day of blowback in the Dáil

Noel Grealish  usually likes to keep things local when he raises issues in the Dáil. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

We worried the dog at home heard TD’s powerful whistle and escaped

Shane Ross: Poster boy for poster-free elections. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The minister for self-effacement asked rivals this week to consider going green

Die-hard Gay Byrne fans began gathering outside the Pro-Cathedral  from 8 o’clock in the morning for the midday Mass. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Heady mix of light-entertainment stalwarts and RTÉ luvvies wedged into wooden pews

Gerry Adams, was garnering most of the attention on the Shinner benches with his new hairstyle

Unwelcome light has settled on cavalier attitude of some politicians to their Dáil duty

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described Gay Byrne aptly as  “perhaps, our original Citizens’ Assembly”. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Condolences for late broadcaster precede rows about hospitals and ‘money messages’

‘Just one more thing, ma’am . . .’ If the Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy's hunch is right, then ‘Fobgate’ could put the War of the Buttons into the ha’penny place. Photograph: John Ohle for The Irish Times

Do TDs fob each other into the chamber? Lt Columbo aka Paul Murphy cracks the case

 Timmy Dooley and  Niall Collins: gave grovelling apologies when hauled up to account for their button-pushing blunders. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Dáil makes a meal of latest shambles to darken its democratic, buttoned-up world

Votegate – the curious story of a Fianna Fail TD voting for his party colleague Timmy Dooley (left) when Dooley wasn’t even in the chamber – has left Leo Varadkar delighted for another Fianna Fáil TD. Photographs: James Forde/The Irish Times and Niall Carson/PA Wire

Schrodooley’s Seat occurs when a Clare TD seemed to have voted and not voted at the same time

Lorraine Walsh and Vicky Phelan  leaving at Leinster House. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

TDs too busy arguing over ‘Votegate’ to share ‘watershed moment’ over cervical scandal

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan highlighted her ‘great personal achievements’. Photograph:  Tom Honan for The Irish Times

Fergus O’Dowd breaks leg while leafleting and Josepha Madigan’s trumpet-blowing

Leo Varadkar, perhaps getting some Brexit frustration out of his system or maybe imagining what it must be like to be on the verge of calling a snap election, continued on the offensive. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Martin and Varadkar fight over respective disability sector records as Brexit truce holds

Leo Varadkar rushed across after his session in the House. Why, with all he has on his plate, he felt the need to be present at a bread and butter ministerial event announcing a road-building project in Mayo was a mystery. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Meanwhile, Coveney was attending Leaders’ Questions. The poor man needed the rest

Leo Varadkar with Boris Johnson at Thornton Manor Hotel in Cheshire. Photograph: PA Wire

The party needs to stop talking itself into opposition, reckons Simon Harris

A small but perfectly formed crowd waited in the Dáil after midday to hear the Taoiseach deliver his first contribution on Budget 2020

Taoiseach tries to impress with biblical and literary quotes, but is hoist by his own petard

In his Budget 2020 speech, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe  promised a variety of financial “interventions” for sectors hit by the UK crashing out of the European Union. Photograph: Alan Betson

Paschal Donohoe seeks shelter from Brexit storm in a budget without surprises

Ray McSharry: the Fianna Fáil grandee was treated to a surprise This Is Your Life party featuring familiar faces of the party down the years.    Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Blasts from the party’s past gather to pay homage to former tánaiste Ray MacSharry

The Taoiseach’s big-ticket lecterns – three of them – were rolled out in a line at the bottom of the steps in front of Government Buildings, signifying this was not a Richard Bruton gig anymore.   Photograph:  Laura Hutton

No alarm and no surprises for Taoiseach and Tánaiste as briefing gets barely a mention

‘After the weekend, the Dáil reluctantly examined the latest gobbets of nothingness hacked up by the British prime minister to avoid saying anything meaningful about his withdrawal intentions.’

Thanks to Johnson and his ‘non-papers’ it’s only a matter of time before . . . non-budget leaks

Maria O’Halloran with her children Sally (6), Peigi (3 months) and PJ (8) from Sandymount. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

No begrudgers were welcome at the homecoming for county’s two winning teams

Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd Barrett  and Bríd Smith of Solidarity/People Before Profit. Murphy has left the Socialist Party to form his own far-left party which he will launch on Monday.  File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

With Paul Murphy starting his own party, Ogle thinks it’s a good time to unite socialists

By sticking to her script and keeping her replies low key  Heather Humphreys easily reached her objective of escaping unscathed. File photograph: Alan Betson

Nothing to do in Kildare Street but wait for big fish to savage themselves into a solution

Following two years of renovation work on the chamber, its gilded occupants were finally allowed back, leaving behind their temporary lodgings in the Ceramics Room of the National Museum where plumptious yellow-haired cherubs – the spit of Donald Trump – decorated the walls. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.

Back in their expensively refurbished Upper House, the talk was still resolutely cheap

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