Tánaiste Simon Coveney: A spokesman for him said the remaining 27 EU member states ‘have been consistent that there can be no backsliding on any part of December’s agreement’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Simon Coveney to meet Michel Barnier as Brussels seeks UK commitment on backstop

US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump host Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the White House: relating his involvement in a planning issue on behalf of Donald Trump was bonkers. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst

Taoiseach has lost any domestic benefit of US trip and revealed weakness yet again

 Regina Doherty: she and her Government colleagues “working very hard” to “put the facts on the table so that people can make informed decisions”. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Regina Doherty says her previous opposition to legalisation of abortion ‘born out of ignorance’

Hugh McElvaney  was secretly filmed in a meeting with an undercover RTÉ reporter in 2015. He was  named by Revenue this week as having underdeclared his income tax by €29,000

Hugh McElvaney asked reporter for cash in exchange for help with planning application

A House of Commons committee says the British government’s intention to be outside the customs union and single market but require no Border infrastructure is ‘unprecedented’.

House of Commons group says there is ‘no evidence’ an invisible border is possible

EU finance commissioner Pierre Moscovici said Europe must “act fast” to secure a common approach to digital tax”. Adding that he expects Ireland to pay a positive role in the negotiations, despite its reservations. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

European commissioner is keen to 'act fast' and impose tax on big internet firms

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar leaving a meeting with Texas governor Greg Abbott   in Austin  on Sunday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Varadkar heads to Washington and New York, Coveney goes to China

Ailbhe Smyth will co-chair the Together for Yes campaign. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Together for Yes will be a ‘broad-based civil society campaign’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has acknowledged that the proposal for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks would be a step too far for many people, while Tánaiste Simon Coveney said he would oppose it. Photograph: Barbara Lindberg.

Comments undermine claim Government proposal represents middle ground

Minister for Transport Shane Ross had threatened to block any judicial appointments until the Bill was progressed. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Commission says legislation is not in line with European standards

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil: “This referendum will be about asking the Irish public to change our Constitution – our basic and most fundamental law – to say that we, as a country, people and State, trust women to make these decisions for themselves.” Photograph:   Collins

Supreme Court judgment paves way for vote to change Constitution

“I am also very conscious that there are so many people who live north of the Border who are Irish citizens and believe themselves to be Irish. That is why they cannot be left behind ever again,” Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Government will trigger ‘backstop’ in event of hardening of existing border

Had the Court left any ambiguity on this question, it would have opened the prospect of legal challenges to any future abortion legislation.

Special cabinet meeting likely to be held tomorrow to approve wording and Referendum Bill

The Supreme Court, sitting in Limerick for the first time, will give a ruling on rights of the unborn

Inside Politics: Planned time frame for abortion referendum hinges on Supreme Court decision

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar indicated that the Strategic Communications Unit may be disbanded, or at least see significant changes to its remit. Photograph: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Leo Varadkar was in combative form in the Dáil when tackled about the embattled unit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: said the Strategic Communications Unit  had become a ‘distraction from the work of Government’.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sinn Féin to table Private Members’ motion calling for the unit to be disbanded

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with British prime minister Theresa May. Mr Varadkar has said there will be no three-way talks on the Northern Ireland Border between Dublin, London and Brussels. Photograph: Daniel  Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images.

Varadkar says May speech put ‘more flesh on the bones’ of how customs might work in future

Leo Varadkar: he is sometimes awkward and uncomfortable in situations which require gladhandling of strangers, but he is at home in a hospital

Communications are key to politics, but they are not more important than policy choices

Former US president  George Bush: his observation of a flooded New Orleans through an airplane window marked the public’s perception of him. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Extreme weather gives politicians a chance to show leadership. But meltdown may occur

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier leaving  a business conference in Brussels on Thursday after delivering a speech. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters.

Michel Barnier happy to hear if Britain has ‘better ideas’ on how to avoid a hard Border

Prime minister Theresa May:  Brexit woes result from her chronic political weakness, some unfit people and the festering fissure of Conservative division on Europe. Photograph:  Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Pat Leahy: Both British and Irish governments must decide on their endgames

Unless the court comprehensively overturns the judgment of the High Court, it is likely that the wording and basis of the referendum would have to be re-examined by the Government.

The Wording of the proposed amendment may be finalised next Tuesday

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson:  has told Theresa May it was wrong to see the government’s task as “maintaining no border” on the island of Ireland after Brexit. Photograph: Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Draft EU-UK withdrawal treaty likely to be rejected by Brexiteers and DUP

Leo Varadkar: his defence was blustery, and you suspect he knew it

Opposition enraged by what it sees as a campaign of promotion for Fine Gael candidates

Labour TD Alan Kelly has compared the Government’s spend on advertorials for the national plan Ireland 2040 as ‘akin to something from the Third Reich’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Sipo asked to investigate Government’s publicity campaign for national plan

Project Ireland 2040: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar launched the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan in Sligo. Photograph: Alan Betson

Project Ireland 2040 campaign ‘breaks Civil Service ban’ on political work

Dara Calleary: “While governments have an obligation to communicate their policies to citizens this information should not be seen as party political; nor should it contain information about potential candidates in forthcoming elections”

Labour, Social Democrats and Fianna Fáil have all made complaints to official bodies

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrives for a meeting  in Brussels, Belgium, on Friday, February 23rd. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

The Strategic Communications Unit is blurring boundaries in a very familiar way

 Chief Justice Frank Clarke. For the Supreme Court to finalise a judgment in a case of this nature over a week would be remarkable. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The Government wants to finalise a wording by March 6th, but timing is not the only uncertainty

European Council president Donald Tusk: said British Brexit proposals for “managed divergence” from EU regulations along with preferential access to EU markets show that Boris Johnson’s “cake philosophy” lives on. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

Varadkar says Ireland will pay more but will not sign up to common corporation tax base

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Eric Luke

Taoiseach also tells those who question Belfast Agreement to ‘respect our vote’

Mary Lou McDonald:  said she feared Northern Ireland was entering a period of “drift” and “entrenchment”. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

SF asks Labour to table legislation in Westminster allowing same-sex marriage in North

President Michael D Higgins: plans to run for the presidency again. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Michael D rides once more

Inside Politics: The President intends this summer to declare his intention to stand again

Abortion referendum: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone and Minister for Health Simon Harris; the Government hopes to finalise the referendum wording by March 6th. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Ruling on rights of unborn has potential to force Government rethink

Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Both parties meeting Theresa May to see if talks can be resurrected

Eighth Amendment: anti-abortion groups have stepped up their campaigns. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Analysis: People ‘want to hear from women and doctors’, say focus groups

Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy,  Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill arrive at Government Buildings, Dublin, for a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Niall Carson /PA

SF does not want ‘cooling off period’ while DUP says key decisions for North’s schools, infrastructure and hospitals needed

Belfast solicitor Michael Finucane was involved in the circulation of the letter. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Hundred prominent signatories ‘shocked at the level of permanent inequality’ in North

Confidence-and-supply frenemies: the growing chasm between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil is driven by the North and Brexit. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Pat Leahy: The big parties’ re-emergent rivalry can end only in a general election


Pat Leahy: Success will eventually come down to the nitty-gritty of implementation

Computer-generated image of what Metro North  could look like.

Taoiseach outlines parts of the new development strategy for Ireland up to 2040

Stormont talks: Simon Coveney said Micheál Martin “doesn’t understand what is going on ”. Photograph: PA

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and FF leader Micheál Martin clash on Stormont strategy

Sinn Féin’s vice-president Michelle O’Neill,  president Mary Lou McDonald and party negotiator Conor Murphy at a press conference at Parliament Buildings in Stormont in Belfast on Thursday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Dublin calls for a cooling-off period as Sinn Féin and the DUP continue to clash

Michael Healy Rae: the Kerry TD  lists 11 properties for letting or rental in the register, as well as two properties under renovation or awaiting planning permission. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Michael Healy Rae lists occupations as postmaster, farmer, plant-hire business operator and shop owner

The main impact of Brexit will be on processed foods, beef, sheep and other cattle meat and dairy products, the report says.

Rural areas and the food sector to feel worst of impact if UK crashes out of EU

The best outcome from Ireland’s perspective would be the EEA option, where Britain enjoys access to the single market. Photograph: Stephanie LeCoq/EPA

Copenhagen Economics study finds Irish economy could reduce by up to 7% by 2030

  Mary Lou McDonald:   won a Dáil seat in 2011,  comfortably retaining it in 2016. Photograph: Reuters/ Clodagh Kilcoyne

A constant at Gerry Adams’ side, McDonald was widely accepted as successor from 2016

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called for the UK to make clear what relationship they want to have with the EU. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

‘They need to make a decision on what relationship they want the UK to have with EU’

New Sinn Féin leader speaks at a special ard fheis on Saturday. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

New leader’s own views on abortion are in conflict with current party policy on the issue

France and Germany may set a course for destinations in areas like tax where the Irish government and the Irish people might not want to go. Photograph: Getty Images

Europe on verge of another big period of change that may not work to Ireland’s advantage

The LoveBoth Project ‘Lives Saved’ tour launch  in Galway on Friday.  Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Coveney’s position on 12-week abortion limit may come to be seen as key moment in campaign

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has  endorsed the tough line laid out  by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Varadkar echoes Barnier statement amid concerns over UK’s Border pledge

Enet has not yet discussed a price for the contract regarding the rural broadband programme with the Government. File photograph: iStockPhoto

Dáil votes for Fianna Fail motion by 77 votes to 48 seeking review of rural broadband plan

Screengrab from UK’s Parliamentary Recording Unit footage showing British prime minister Theresa May pointing towards Boris Johnson. Photograph: AFP Photo/PRU

Ministers fear EU’s patience with the UK is running out amid renewed Brexit talks

Paschal Donohue: Ed Brophy, a former chief of staff to Labour tánaiste Joan Burton, is to join the Fine Gael Minister’s staff in the Department of Finance. Photograph: Reuters/ Clodagh Kilcoyne

Joan Burton's ex-chief of staff to join Paschal Donohoe's Department of Finance team

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin attacked the Taoiseach for the neglect of rural Ireland. Photograph: The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Micheál Martin tells Taoiseach rural Ireland has had enough of ‘lecturing from a Dublin-centric Government’

The building plan has for an Apple data centre in Athenry, Co Galway, has been delayed for more than two years by a series of planning objections and legal actions.

Government fears challenges such as that to Apple data centre could scare off multinational investment

A Government spokesman said eight to 10 Defence Forces personnel would be involved in the EU battlegroup. Photograph: Defence Forces

Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe brings memo to Cabinet on issue

 Paschal Donohoe: “My long-term view of the USC has always been to see its integration into the existing PRSI system”

PRSI is a social insurance tax paid into social insurance fund; USC is payroll tax paid to the exchequer

Michel Barnier, EU chief negotiator, left, and David Davis, UK Brexit secretary in Downing Street on Monday. Photograph: Bloomberg

Taoiseach agrees with Barnier that ‘time has come for Britain to make a choice’

Past cranes over Dublin: There are fears in Government  that the prioritisation of cities under the National Development Plan will be seen as neglect of rural Ireland. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Fears in Government that prioritising cities will be seen as neglect of rural Ireland

The National Planning Framework is intended to give a clear strategy for where and how the country is to be developed, built and connected over the next decade. File photograph: Getty Images

A quick guide to the Government’s new development and capital plans and how they might affect you

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Martin Cullen, then minister for the environment and local government, at the launch of the National Spatial Strategy in 2002. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The controversy over infrastructure strategy shows the Government is on the right track

Eoghan Murphy: he and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will update Cabinet colleagues on the 10-year capital plan and the new National Planning Framework at a meeting on Monday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Government’s long-term proposals will see rural constituencies ‘lose out’ in the process

Taoiseach  Leo Varadkar:  the high number of undeclared TDs (22 – more than the 19 in favour of abortion up to 12 weeks) amongst the Fine Gael ranks will be a concern to the Government. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Even if abortion referendum passes, Dáil will be another battleground

An Eighth Amendment sticker on the gates of Government Buildings. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘Irish Times’ survey raises doubt over whether such legislation would pass in Dáil

Simon Coveney will campaign for repeal of the constitutional ban on abortion, but will probably seek to amend the proposed legislation which would follow the referendum. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Analysis: Simon Coveney’s intervention has focused attention on the unborn

Tánaiste Simon Coveney: played down divisions over how to legislate for abortion, saying there was more agreement than disagreement on how to proceed.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Taoiseach warns of ban on foreign funding of groups campaigning in abortion referendum

Tánaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney: “We are not hardening our position, we are simply holding our position.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Theresa May says ‘no UK prime minister could agree’ to Brussels proposals

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (c), Katherine Zappone and Simon Harris. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Pat Leahy: Varadkar woos middle as fervour in plentiful supply on both sides of debate

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has summoned the Irish ambassador to Israel to a meeting on Wednesday. Photograph: Jim Hollander

Bill would prevent import of goods produced in Israeli settlements

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (centre), Minister for Children Katherine Zappone and  Minister for Health Simon Harris at a press conference following the Cabinet debate on a referendum on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, at Government Buildings tonight. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Voters to be asked to replace Eighth Amendment with provision for Oireachtas to legislate

Abortion referendum: there are good political reasons for the elaborate choreography and slow pace of unfolding the proposal. Photograph: Bloomberg

Analysis: Government has already taken key decisions on abortion referendum

Leo Varadkar: he needs to force the great machine of government to work harder and smarter

Pat Leahy: Political capital, of which the Taoiseach has plenty, must be spent or lost

Mary Lou McDonald: Among the voters of other parties, she  is most attractive to Independent and small-party voters. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne

Younger voters more open to new president Mary Lou McDonald than older voters

President Michael D Higgins: He has not yet indicated if he intends to contest a second term. Photograph:  Brian Lawless

A number of prospective candidates have indicated interest in running for the office

Support for remaining in the EU was consistent across all demographics and geographic areas, and was highest in Dublin, among older voters and the better off. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

More than three-quarters of voters polled say Ireland would be better off remaining in EU

“It is hard to escape the conclusion that the broader anti-abortion  campaign has been out-organised and out-prepared and – so far anyway – out-thought by their opponents.” Photograph Nick Bradshaw

'Irish Times'/Ipsos MRBI poll shows a big majority in favour of liberalising Ireland’s abortion laws

This is the answer given by a sample of people who were asked: will you vote to change the Constitution so the Government can legislate for abortion in request up to 12 weeks?

Repeal side has lead of almost two to one as campaign begins in advance of referendum

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “I am Taoiseach, so ultimately the question that we’re putting to the Irish people has to be one that is sound.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Taoiseach indicates that his previously espoused anti-abortion attitude has ‘evolved’

“Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s personal rating rises by seven points to 60 per cent. You have to go back to 2007 – in the heyday of Bertie Ahern – for a similar figure for a taoiseach.” File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll: Voters seem to like Vardkar’s style, youth and clear communication

Ipsos/MRBI poll: Party leader satisfaction ratings

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll shows Taoiseach’s approval rating is highest since Bertie Ahern in 2007

Marchers at an  anti-abortion  rally in Dublin in 2015. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Groups feel shut out of debate in media and by the political establishment

The Oireachtas committee report, to be published today, cites several cases of disastrous failures in building standards, including Priory Hall and Longboat Quay in Dublin. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Committee report recommends fire checks on 1990s and 2000s developments

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy: low-interest rate mortgages will be available for properties up €320,000 in the Greater Dublin Area, Cork and Galway, while the ceiling in the rest of the country will be €250,000. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

State will offer home loans to certain people refused finance by the banks

Stepaside Garda Station. Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy told the PAC he would prefer to send extra gardaí to Ballyfermot, Ronanstown and the north and south inner city. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

PAC report critical of decision to reopen station, which followed campaign by Shane Ross

Sinn Féin: expect much talk of a united Ireland as Mary Lou McDonald looks to maintain the unity of the movement that Gerry Adams has led since 1983. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Sinn Féin’s new leader must extend party’s appeal without alienating its old guard

It is likely that the Government will seek to publish as much information as possible about the contents of the proposed legislation before the referendum.

Anti-abortion advocates hoping Seanad will see stiff resistance to referendum Bill

Eighth Amendment: Micheál Martin’s justification for changing his mind was wholly grounded in concern for women. Photograph:  Gareth Chaney Collins

The promise of change, renewal, reform is a very powerful political trope

Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis: deviates from the general party practice of only taking the average industrial wage. Photograph: Dave Meehan

SF says average working wage not mandatory as Dessie Ellis takes full €94,000

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin’s  decision  to  support a vote to legalise abortion on request in the early months of pregnancy has prompted a huge reaction in the party. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil leader says matter is deeply personal and not a party political issue

Micheál Martin: his speech would have been unthinkable from any Fianna Fáil leader in the past. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Fianna Fáil leader’s move will help repealers argue 12-week proposal is the middle ground

Micheál Martin: the Fianna Fáil leader on Thursday pledged to support the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

Fianna Fáil leader’s unexpected announcement stunned members of his party

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin speaking in the Dáil during a debate on the report of the committee on the Eighth Amendment.

‘Nothing we say or do here could make Ireland a country without abortion’ - FF leader

Recommendation to be made by month’s end on need for provision to replace article in Constitution

People at a rally organised by the Strike4Repeal group watch a projection of Dáil proceedings on the side of Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin on Wednesday night. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Legal advice likely to recommend new provision be inserted into Constitution

Minister for Foreign Affairs  Simon Coveney  with Northern Secretary Karen Bradley. The two governments  are expected to jointly announce  new multiparty talks aimed at getting Stormont going. Photograph: PA

‘Short window’ for talks to reach successful conclusion

Joanne Hayes leaves the tribunal of enquiry into the Kerry babies tragedy in June 1985. Photograph: The Irish Times

Inside Politics: It has not been explained how the Hayes family came to sign statements in Garda custody that implicated them

Barry McElduff: Mary Lou McDonald spent a few days insisting his suspension was “a proportionate response” for a “stupid” stunt.

Three-month suspension was far short of solution to quell public and media anger

6/07/2013: Anti-abortion and pro-choice demonstrators in O’Connell Street, Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Varadkar is expected to back both the repeal referendum and 12-week proposal

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