Universities are already working more closely with industry and subsidising the provision of high-cost Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA Universities need less regulation and more autonomy

Academic institutions must be trusted to make decisions for society and students

Looking for a friend: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Brussels. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty David McWilliams: Ireland needs a new friend in Europe. But who?

France and Germany, or Austria and Poland? It’s a major national decision

Gerry O’Carroll: “I am convinced that Ms Hayes did give birth to twins and was the mother of both the Tralee and the Cahirciveen babies,” the retired garda wrote  in 2014. Photographed in 2001 by  Alan Betson Detective Gerry O’Carroll owes Joanne Hayes an apology

Diarmaid Ferriter: The retired garda still insists Hayes gave birth to the Cahersiveen baby

Slaves working on sugar cane plantation: a key source of wealth for the West. Photograph: Istock West's wealth was built up over centuries from Trump ‘sh*tholes’

Worldview: US and Europe must aid Africa and S America’s rising populations

The way forward: Dublin City Council and Ó Cualann co-operative has built houses in Ballymun with a starting price of €140,000. Breda O’Brien: Housing crisis solutions really exist

Co-operative models like Ó Cualann’s could banish misery of housing shortage

Eighth Amendment: Micheál Martin’s justification for changing his mind was wholly grounded in concern for women. Photograph:  Gareth Chaney Collins Micheál Martin’s abortion stance a response to strong mood for change

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

Like many other big companies, Apple had pushed the tax  game too far. What might have appeared to be a clever idea to a tax accountant looked like a flagrant playing of the system when it emerged into the light. Photograph: Getty Images Cliff Taylor: Apple paying $38bn in tax to US treasury ‘a big, big moment’

For years US companies have played the tax game, but the rule are now changing

Joanne Hayes at the Tralee inquiry in 1985. This week’s apology to  Hayes by An Garda Síochána coincided with the Dáil debate on the recommendation that the Eighth Amendment be repealed. Photograph: Tom Lawlor Eighth Amendment is a relic of harsh times for women

Ireland cannot be said to be a different place until amendment is removed

Graffiti artist Maser’s Repeal the Eighth: will we need to insert text giving the Oireachtas the power to legislate for abortion provision? Photograph: Enda O’Dowd Noel Whelan: Simple repeal of Eighth carries risks

Provision for Oireachtas to make laws about abortion could curb possible challenges

Mary Lou McDonald’s task is huge. To lead the party in a way that refutes the overwhelming sense, even among neutrals, that Sinn Féin is deeply controlled by a Belfast conclave. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Oliver Callan: ‘Putting a sliced pan on your head must be the dumbest way to end a career’

Party’s failure to truly tackle past has infected the culture of their present

Irish Volunteers and one Irish Citizen Army member inside the GPO in 1916: behind both the Rising and Brexit vote was desire for a return to a halcyon age.  Photograph: Defence Forces Military Archives, Cathal Brugha barracks John McManus: English deserve a break over Brexit

Irish smugness about UK folly must be tempered by memory of independence

 DUP leader Arlene Foster: her  tone matters because nationalists have taken an allergic dislike to her. That may be unfair but it is a fact, on which the future of devolution depends. Photograph: PA  Tone-deaf Arlene Foster still hitting the wrong note

Power seeping away from a DUP leader who seems incapable of rapprochement

Fulfilling the needs and rights of children with disabilities in foster care requires joined up, inter-agency approaches that have the flexibility to deliver personalised supports that place the child at the centre of service provision. Molly case shows children with disabilities falling through cracks in system

Agencies seem to pride themselves on impenetrability and inaccessibility

Leo Varadkar: In his handling of abortion he has shown a political subtlety that has enabled him to keep control of the agenda and avoid serious divisions in Fine Gael. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill Leo Varadkar’s subtle strategy persuades waverers on Eighth Amendment

Taoiseach had clear idea from beginning where he wanted to go on abortion

If Margaret Atwood hasn’t earned the right to have her opinions treated with due care and respect, where are we? Feminism, we have a problem: Why it’s wrong to turn on Margaret Atwood

Kathy Sheridan: #MeToo is a revolution, and ‘guilty because accused’ has kicked in

Medical consultants must be available in all emergency departments,  24 hours a day, to support timely and effective decision-making about patient relocation. Photograph: Alan Betson A&E crisis: We need more planning, less rhetoric about beds

What is most worrying about the official response is its sense of helplessness

Kerry babies: Joanne Hayes at the inquiry in 1985; she did not give birth to twins and did not murder the Cahirciveen baby. Photograph: Tom Lawlor Gardaí still law unto themselves 34 years after Kerry babies case

Flawed tribunal findings stigmatised Joanne Hayes. We should apologise to her

The very fact that non-Catholics arrogantly expect the same treatment as everybody else is a challenge to the whole concept of faith-based medicine. Photograph: iStock Fintan O’Toole: A Baptism barrier would solve our hospital crisis

The A&E crisis could easily be solved in Catholic hospitals by turning away infidels

Not until there is a separate English parliament . . . will the delusions that led the country to Brexit finally be dissipated by contact with reality. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire Brexit is a collective English mental breakdown

English people living on dreams of empire never learned to see others as equals

A photograph  of Savita Halappanavar at a repeal the Eighth Amendment rally in Dublin. Photograph: Getty images Catholics have evolved in their thinking about abortion

Irish Catholics stand by women, and trust them to be moral agents of their own lives

Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of Germany’s conservative CDU party, and Martin Schulz, leader of Germany’s social democratic SPD party, at  a press conference in Berlin to announce their coalition. Photograph:  Kay Nietfeld/AFP/Getty Images Schulz saves Merkel – but at what cost?

Like three SPD leaders before him, Martin Schulz has taken a huge chance - for himself and his ailing party

 Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff bearing a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre. Photograph: Barry McElduff/Twitter/PA Alex Kane: Blind spots block Northern Ireland progress

Republican and unionist takes on Barry McElduff’s video reveal scale of division

Saoirse Ronan: one of only three women to be nominated for the best actress Ifta. Photograph: Mike Nelson/EPA Una Mullally: We need more gender balance in Irish film

Ifta nominations reveal still too few women involved in Irish film and TV industry

File photograph: iStock Fintan O’Toole: The A&E crisis is perfectly acceptable

The HSE’s grotesque winter festival has become as regular as Christmas

The Return to Amsterdam of the Second Expedition to the East Indies, by Hendrik Cornelisz Vroom (1566-1640). Over the years, the Dutch built the most commercially successful economy in the world. Photograph: Phas/UIG via Getty Images David McWilliams: Ireland is at risk of ‘Dutch disease’

We need the tech companies, but we must not let their interests supersede all others

Beef and dairy products are left exposed by a potential no-deal Brexit – particularly some areas of the beef sector and cheddar cheese. Cliff Taylor: The threat of no-deal Brexit must lead to action

Ireland should be ready politically and economically for the worst-case scenario

The Great Siege monument in Valletta, Malta, was turned into a shrine for journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia after she was killed by a car bomb last October. Photograph: Matthew Mirabelli/AFP/Getty Images Trump undermines journalists but he does not kill them

The focus on the US president’s threats to the media distracts from deadly challenges elsewhere

Paddy Harte sought to educate his peers about the reality of the Border and highlight the scale of their ignorance. Diarmaid Ferriter: Paddy Harte’s courage is still needed

The Fine Gael TD sought to open eyes on both sides in the North in the face of great hostility

‘The total spend on healthcare in Ireland is among the highest in the OECD. But our health outcomes – ie, what we get for spending all that money – tend to be comparatively poor.’ Photograph: Getty Images Pat Leahy: Health crisis will not be solved by money alone

If health staff do not change the way they work, then the system cannot change

Posters in Dublin during the 2002 abortion referendum campaign. File photograph: David Sleator Breda O’Brien: Referendum Commission reform is vital to democracy

Citizens’ Assembly should recommend a balanced and independent referendum body

French actor Catherine Deneuve has drawn fire from feminists after speaking out against the dangers of demonising men and a return to Victorian sexual mores. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/ Reuters Denigrating Catherine Deneuve does a disservice to women

French #MeToo row shows how many feminists have forgotten the value of dialogue

‘Those killed in the Troubles were not Catholic or Protestant victims – they were human lives destroyed.’ Photograph: Getty Images Noel Whelan: Kingsmill row shows North’s failure to address the past

Sinn Féin MP’s gaffe underlines the need to do more to help the victims of the Troubles

Leo Varadkar and Viktor Orbán during the Taoiseach’s visit to the Hungarian prime minister last week, in Budapest. Photograph: Tibor Illyes/MTI/AP Brendan Howlin: Leo Varadkar was wrong to visit Orbán

Taoiseach’s granting of credibility to Hungarian far-right leader is a matter of grave concern

Children  at a naval base in the Libyan capital  Tripoli  after they were rescued 40 miles off the Libyan coast. Photograph: Getty Images Let Europe face up to human trafficking in 2018

Europe’s reception of children seeking refuge is particularly shameful

Mr. Justice Peter Charleton, at the Tribunal of Inquiry into protected disclosures made under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and certain other matters, at Dublin Castle.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times Alan Kelly: Have the Garda and Justice disclosed everything to Charleton?

Boxes of new evidence have been given to the tribunal, but only after persistent questions in the Oireachtas

Oprah Winfrey speaks after accepting the Cecil B. Demille Award at the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. January 7, 2018. Photograph: Paul Drinkwater/Courtesy of NBC Una Mullally: Oprah is like Trump but very different

Her Golden Globe speech encapsulated the direction a much broader resistance to Trump needs to take

Karen Bradley, the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is, like her predecessor James Brokenshire, one of prime minister Theresa May’s home office proteges.  Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters Newton Emerson: Karen Bradley can break logjam in the North

New Secretary of State could push for talks chaired by UK and Irish governments

The shortage of teachers in some key subject areas must cast doubt on our ability to achieve the targets of the Minister’s Plan for Education.   No incentive for best and brightest to be teachers

High fees , inadequate pay and difficulty in getting a full-time post making it an unattractive career choice

The shared-space proposal would involve no restrictions on goods and people as they enter Ireland, North or South, from either Britain or the EU Philip Pettit: Living with a hard Brexit

It is possible to leave the custom union and internal market, and maintain a frictionless border

Ireland requires a comprehensive national food and nutrition policy to continue Irish leadership in tackling global undernutrition. Photograph; Getty Images Tom Arnold: How Ireland can influence the world

We should place food and nutrition at the heart of our foreign policy

In the absolutely no redeeming features basket there’s a shocker called Autumn in New York featuring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder Orna Mulcahy: Time to declutter the movie business

Once I see a middle aged man pressing himself on a young girl I don’t want to look

Barry McElduff: His behaviour is, as Alan McBride of the victims group Wave puts it, either “twisted and beyond wicked, or just stupid”. Susan McKay: Barry McElduff is either a fool or a knave

Sinn Féin MP has damaged his own party and added to growing sectarian rancour

Peter Sutherland: no one personified quite as clearly as he did the two sides of neoliberal globalisation: its phenomenal energy and its terrible destructiveness. Photograph: Aidan Crawley Fintan O’Toole: Trump and Brexit are products of Sutherland’s success

As a father of globalisation Peter Sutherland leaves a problematic legacy

Disapora: never forget that underneath the PR and the branding and rebranding, the novelty socks and the grinning plausibility, this is still a banana republic. Ten rules for the returning emigrant

Planning on coming home to Ireland in 2018?

The residents are kept physically safe, they are fed and watered and generally  staff act kindly. With rare exceptions, nursing homes are not examples of places filled with joy; there is not much life to be found in them. Photograph:  Jonathan Brady/PA Wire End-of-life rights merit as much debate as those of unborn

Nursing homes must focus not just on keeping us alive but keeping us happy

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