Jackue Healy-Rae. Independents  have provided almost 100 per cent support for minority governments, with dissident party backbenchers instead being the main source of instability. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien Opinion: Six myths about Independent TDs debunked

Independents they are healthy sign of the openness of our political system

Papers dealing with the State’s response to the outbreak of violence in the North in 1969:  by investing in a digital archive, State departments will be able to transfer emails, business files, digital images and other electronic records to the National Archives. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien Peter Charleton: National Archives permits us to learn from mistakes

National Archives ensures this country will have a history that calls the State to account

Poll position: election posters outside Government Buildings. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire Fine Gael election campaign off to a weak start

Micheal Martin kicked off smartly for Fianna Fáil with a number of crisp media interviews

What remains in Nos. 14- 17 is significant and evocative; the restoration of these buildings, showcasing their 18th century features and allowing visitors to see the 1916 attempts to tunnel between the houses, will make it a significant attraction and permanent monument to the status of Moore Street in the 1916 story. Photograph: Aidan Crawley Diarmaid Ferriter: Noisy campaign to ‘save’ the Rising street rings hollow

‘There is ignorance behind the well-intentioned ‘Save Moore Street’ slogan’

David Cameron: The erosion of the principle of free movement and equal treatment of EU citizens is the price we are being asked to pay to keep the UK in the EU. Photograph: Mathias Loevgreen Bojesen/Scanpix World View: Cameron’s pleading on migrants opens pandora’s box

UK’s dubious case may lead to other member states moving to curb migrant rights

Minister of State  Kathleen Lynch. The proposed commission of inquiry is designed to deflect criticism before an election. Photograph: Joe Boland Breda O’Brien: Entire foster care system needs overhaul

Our child protection and welfare system is broken, and there is no political will to fix it

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump: has soiled a melodic Anglicised variation on a classic Celtic name.  Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP Photo Donald Clarke: ‘The Donald’ is ruining a good name

Pushing Donald Trump as the deified avatar of Donaldishness is unfair on the rest

The whole basis of the forecasts is that economic growth will continue at a steady pace for the next five years Cliff Taylor: talk of fiscal space a waste of election space

Parties should set out how they will spend and raise the €300bn to run the country over five years

‘If I had my way I would bring consent workshops into secondary schools as well, and instil in our youth only the power of saying ’no’.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times Lynn Ruane: ‘I felt liberated when I learnt to say no to sex’

Consent workshops are a way to instil in young people the power to just say no

John McHale: The role which the Fiscal Advisory Council has played is akin to that which the independent Referendum Commissions played in recent referendum campaigns.Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES Noel Whelan: Volatile vacuum at heart of Fine Gael’s fiscal space

McHale is telling the Government that if and when additional money comes along most of it will already be committed to new overheads

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail – are stating their positions and their policies in language which avoids, like the plague, the shorthand words that have been traditionally, and correctly, used to express the ideological divide in democratic politics: left and right. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times John Horgan: Irish political divisions are in all the wrong places

Parties are going out of their way to avoid defining themselves as either left or right

Both pro- and anti-choice sides were dumbfounded by the outcome. The accused had been acquitted, the accusers indicted. The spectacular backfire might have been less of a surprise (although would still have been surprising) in Manhattan or San Francisco. But in Sheldon country? Eamonn McCann: Harris County grand jury delivers big bang for US abortion activists

Until just last week, the only thing many of us knew about Harris County is that it is located in east Texas, where Sheldon Cooper comes from.

A number of Labour figures have already pointed to Michael McDowell’s climb up a lamppost in Ranelagh in 2002  PHOTOGRAPH - FRANK MILLER Stephen Collins: inconclusive result appears the most likely outcome

The problem both Coalition parties face is that their core message is stability and continuity to keep the recovery going. Too much friction and that message could fray alarmingly.

In engaging with politics, young people seem more likely to engage with issues. The traditional political party structure tends to engage young people who grow up to be the type of political thinkers their parents were.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times Una Mullally: #MarRef effect will blindside big parties

It is incredible how no party has capitalised on young people's political involvement in referendum

Alan and Gerry Keery run the Cereal Killer Cafe in Shoreditch. Anti-gentrification protesters told them to get out. Brian Boyd: People of Stoneybatter prepare to be gentrified

Whether Dublin rises up in protest against the presence of a Cereal Cafe among its streets broad and narrow remains to be seen.

Last week, Galloway said that, “Defeat in this case would have been financially ruinous to me which is of course what the corporations count on in such cases. They have limitless resources not least because they pay almost no taxes.” Photograph: Eric Luke. Colum Kenny: George Galloway victory over Google strikes a blow for free speech

Former MP an unlikely and unlikeable hero litigant

In the Netherlands the number of political parties that had their manifestos costed by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis went from three in 1986 up to ten in the last election (2012). (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) The price of going Dutch on election manifestos

Independent costings frame the political debate but elections cover a broader range of topics, from foreign policy to justice

This fecklessness matters. It means that ministers can get away with pretty much anything. Photograph: Alan Betson Fintan O’Toole: Why we will not miss the 31st Dáil

Elected with a huge mandate for radical democratic change, it lapsed into collective indifference and impotence

The key to that comeback is leadership, not membership. It was never going to be easy for Micheál Martin. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times 12 step programme to rehabilitate Fianna Fáil

The party is off life-support and breathing on its own. It now needs to prove that it is up and about

The Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin   visiting  St James primary school in 2014.   Pic John Mc Elroy. Rite & Reason: Catholic schools are unfairly criticised over admissions

Only 5 per cent of such schools in Dublin restrict admission on religious grounds

Waves crash over the lighthouse at Porthcawl, Wales, February 1, 2016. Gale force winds are affecting parts of Wales. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden Eamon Ryan: Storm Henry is clearly no friend of St Bridget

The scale of what is happening to the weather is hard to comprehend

Peter Boylan: National Maternity Strategy will lead to better run hospitals

The Mastership model of the three Dublin maternity hospitals will be rolled out across the country

Trinity College will  explore the possibility of consent modules for the wider student body. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill Una Mullally: Why we need to talk about sexual consent

A solid framework of education on consent and sex makes things a lot less blurry

Terry Wogan: broadcaster’s whimsical banter, gentle wit and spinning of surreal yarns became reveille for some eight million BBC Radio 2 listeners between 1972 and 1984 Peter Murtagh: Bright voice on darkest days for Irish in Britain

Terry Wogan gave the British a different view of Irishness in a time of terrorism

Mary Minihan: Past glories a memory as Labour puts on brave face

Despite their optimism, TDs and Ministers are struggling to take credit off Fine Gael

The change of leadership from Eamon Gilmore to Joan Burton  has done nothing to restore Labour’s fortunes. If anything it worked to reinforce the view that the party’s tenure in office has been a failure. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES Stephen Collins: Labour needs 15 seats in order to survive

Since the foundation of the state Labour has averaged around 10 per cent of the vote in elections and about the same percentage of Dail seats.

In a way, the parties have been given a free pass to engage in giveaway electioneering by a new concept, given a horrific name which sounds like a Star Trek episode – “the fiscal space”. Cliff Taylor: If you ask canvassers one question it should be this one

What what will you not do from your menu of tax, spending and public finance measures if econony does not perform as expected?

The idea that  Trump could carry Republican hopes and lead the party of Abraham Lincoln into November’s election  is now a very real prospect. If he wins in the Iowa caucuses next Monday, it could be difficult to stop him. REUTERS/Scott Morgan Simon Carswell: Trump and Sanders have more in common than you might think

They have tapped the same frustration felt by voters who feel let down by establishment politicians and angry that the system is stacked against them.

The principle German security fear is of a France ruled by Marine Le Pen.” Photgraph: Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images World View: EU worried about setting precedent in negotiations with Cameron

Concern that Le Pen, Wilders, and other right-wing populists will be inspired to seek similar outcomes

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan  unveiling measures to tackle the mortgage arrears crisis in 2013. There are about 750,000 residential mortgages in Ireland, and over 92,000 of those are in arrears – about one in eight. Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland Breda O’Brien: The bankers are gone but mortgage arrears problem remains

There is still a sense of shame and stigma that blocks people from accessing help

Catherine Zeta-Jones at the ‘Dad’s Army’ world premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square  London. Photograph: Stuart C Wilson/Getty Images Donald Clarke: ‘Dad’s Army’ wins war of the stars

The British sitcom has such durability there is no wonder it has been made into a film

There is not a chance the Government will fulfil Philip Lane’s  “hope” that the next government “takes seriously” the need to balance public spending with the need for a “safe level of public debt”.   Picture Jason Clarke. Diarmaid Ferriter: Eight years on and it is political business as usual in Ireland

What we are witnessing are testosterone fuelled, arrogant assertions that the establishment have things under control

“We can’t blame Peig Sayers anymore.” Picture of Blasket Island storyteller, Peig Sayers. Photograph:UCD department of Irish folklore Opinion: How to rescue the Irish language

The focus at primary level, from junior infants to 6th class, should be on conversational Irish

Former Independent TD Jackie Healy Rae. File photograph: Peter Thursfield Noel Whelan: In defence of Independent TDs

Independents’ purposes and objectives are more complex than the crude caricatures

Mandatory sexual consent classes will now be part of the orientation programme for first-year Trinity College students living in halls. Photograph: Alan Betson Sexual consent classes: Neo-puritan preaching won’t stop rape

Lessons on correct way to have sex is a gross overstepping of individual boundaries

State agents appear to have played a part in the bombing of Frizzell’s fish shop on the Shankill Road in 1993 in which nine people died. Photograph: Pacemaker. Eamonn McCann: State role in killings by IRA changes everything

What justification can be offered now for the conflict that saw almost 4,000 killed?

Opinion: Data privacy now begins at the school gate

As schools take to Facebook and Twitter the more of their students personal data may end up online

Brian Cowen, former taoiseach, prior to his appearance before the banking inquiry. File  photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times Susan O’Keeffe: Banking inquiry is part of our growing up as a nation

This is what accountability looks like. It’s incredibly slow and not very pretty but digging for the truth is the murkiest job in the world

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meeting British prime minister David Cameron at Chequers, Buckinghamshire. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/PA Wire Opinion: Why losing Britain might be good for EU

UK policy has pushed for common market but been brake on social Europe

Members of the public beside a mural in Dublin’s Temple Bar area by street artist SUMS supporting a yes vote in the marriage equality  referendum. Niall Carson/PA Wire John McManus: Do US firms now have a taste for Irish politics?

During the marriage referendum they overtly tried to influence the outcome of the democratic process in their favour

A road sign painted with graffiti stands outside the village of Rossport January 26, 2006. . REUTERS/Tom Bergin Corrib Gas: Was it worth it? Yes.

“Jaroslaw Kaczynski holds no government position but, as leader of the PiS, he enjoys the undivided loyalty of his followers and of the new president, Andrzej Duda, who obediently follows the PiS party line.” REUTERS/Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski Opinion: European, democratic, liberal and open Poland is now under threat

The ruling party wishes to follow the example of Victor Orbán’s Hungary and his model of ‘illiberal democracy” with the primacy of political will over law

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and US ambassador to France Jane Hartley, pay tribute to the victims of November 13th terror attacks in Paris, at the Place de la Republique. Photograph: Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images Lara Marlowe: France has a fatal attraction to the Middle East

France and the jihadists seem locked in a wrestlers’ hold, a mutual fascination and loathing which neither can escape

The Financial Transactions Tax is being called  a Robin Hood Tax to capture its essence and to link in with similar campaigns that stretch from France (Robin de Bois) across to the USA and Canada, from Australia up to Britain, and from Denmark (Robin Hood Skat) down to Italy. Niall Crowley: Ireland should support an EU financial transaction tax

Trade unions, community organisations, global justice groups, and environmental organisations are launching a campaign for Ireland to sign up to this Euro zone initiative

Sarah Palin and Donald Trump: if the Republican candidate is elected president, the US could lurch towards a weird mixture of unilateralism (kick their asses and ask questions later) and isolationism (withdrawing into a nativist fantasy world with no Mexicans, no Muslims and no international obligations). Photograph: Mark Kauzlarich Fintan O’Toole: Fragile global politics makes the unthinkable thinkable

A lack of political authority due to spiraling inequality is the common thread

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