$alt Fresh thinking on National Maternity Hospital impasse vital

Influence of ethos and lack of clear State ownership are factors that do not serve women well

Democratic Unionist Party  politician Edwin Poots: His Scotland the Brave ringtone has been long since deleted no doubt but the DUP’s rhetoric around the NI protocol is little different from 20 years ago. Photograph:  Paul Faith Kathy Sheridan: Poots and Donaldson lack passion, intellect and outward gaze

No adjective in English literature can make two DUP candidates look plausible

Graffiti in a loyalist area of south Belfast. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images Michael McDowell: North needs conciliation, not a referendum

Demographic change will not be enough to clinch a united Ireland

$alt Systematic cruelty of mother and baby homes dates back to 18th century

Foundling Hospital children ate stirabout infested with clock beetles and earwigs

Edwin Poots:  If Northern Ireland ends up with a first minister for whom all the main scientific developments of the 19th and 20th centuries are bogus, the more excuse there is for British indifference. Photograph:  Edwin Poots/PA 5:25 Fintan O’Toole: Earth calling Edwin Poots – we have a problem

If the earth is only 6000 years old, all the science of the last 200 years is bogus

The Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations on caregiving and about the status and remuneration received by family carers, most of whom are women, are long overdue. File photograph: iStock Gender equality: Calls to reform homecare long overdue

State must get more involved in care options for elderly and caregivers’ rights

$alt Belfast Agreement not a postdated cheque for Irish unity

Managing crises together on a small island is not just sensible, it is essential

People outside the Jigsaw community centre, at Belvedere Court near Mountjoy Square in Dublin 1, in 2018. Photograph:  Cyril Byrne 5:10 Una Mullally: Another piece of Dublin’s cultural Jigsaw is lost

Pandemic may offer opportunity to transform Georgian squares into cultural venues

EU  can’t return to “business as usual” as  a broader discussion needs to take place about the global governance of the production, procurement and distribution of vaccines. Photograph:  John MacDougall 4:57 Barry Andrews: No time for charade on Europe-wide public health

Government must engage seriously in Conference on the Future of Europe

$alt Pandemic has revealed the fragility of public interest journalism

On World Press Freedom Day, media across the globe are fighting threats both existential and immediate

 Edward Carson’s statue in the grounds of Stormont in Belfast. Photograph:  Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Fintan O’Toole: Partition squeezed out pluralism. We have to let it back in

The events of a century ago led to the creation of two sectarian states

The future of cities should be determined not just by the people who live there now but by the people who are yet to live there. 5:11 David McWilliams: Serial objectors are colonising future through Nimbyism

The more we object to development, the more house prices will rise

$alt 5:47 Jennifer O’Connell: Every woman has met a Charles Michel who looks the other way

Ankara incident shows women have a more insidious enemy than Erdogans and Trumps

Citywest vaccine centre: There are signs the vaccination programme is accelerating and moving to more than 200,000 a week. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd/The Irish Times 5:56 Cliff Taylor: Reopening plan leaves no margin for error on vaccines

The vaccine rollout is accelerating – but the next six weeks are crucial

 Joe Biden’s blitz of spending over his first 100 days as US president represents a colossal injection of cash into the US economy. Photograph: AP Photo/Evan Vucci 5:38 Suzanne Lynch: Biden brings back big government with a bang

An array of new policy initiatives could have profound implications for the US economy

$alt 6:20 Pat Leahy: DUP can see the future, but cannot face it

Developing crisis within unionism cannot leave southern politics untouched

Diplomats under the Biden administration, have been busy promoting the US’s return to the liberal-multilateral mainstream. Photograph: Getty 4:47 Joe Biden’s Everything Doctrine belies a radical shift

The ‘American First’ legacy lives on in ways the Biden White House might not like to admit

Removing any mention of parents actually weakens the Constitution’s challenge to corporate control of the shape of our working and childbearing lives. Breda O’Brien: Constitution clause ignores parents in home

Citizens’ Assembly rightly values carers but is letting economics edit out parental role

$alt DUP leadership purge the death throes of the old Northern Ireland

Next year’s Assembly election set to be a vote on the future of Northern Ireland - between one stagnating in the past, or one continuing to move forward

Éamon de Valera: “England is the aggressor. Once the aggression is removed there can be peace. If the aggression and interference is maintained, it will be resisted.” Diarmaid Ferriter: We must confront reality of our Civil War

Mindful of those who suffered, State must consider whether it could have been avoided

Mary Lou McDonald: The Abú database apparently cross-references facts from the electoral register with information about voters gleaned from Facebook. Sinn Féin is being investigated for potential breaches of data law. Photograph: Alan Betson Stephen Collins: McElwain tribute shows SF is no ordinary political party

Sinn Féin remains IRA mouthpiece and is untroubled by its ‘sinister’ database

$alt Vicky Phelan: Failure of CervicalCheck Tribunal undermines screening services

Lack of trust in programmes will continue if past errors are not dealt with

Arlene Foster, who on Wednesday announced her decision to step down as Northern Ireland’s First Minister and DUP leader, outside Stormont in Belfast last week. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire 5:28 Newton Emerson: DUP could prove its most destructive having cornered itself

Foster departing deeply conflicted party as she announces decision to step down

Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson and his special advisor Dominic Cummings outside 10 Downing Street on September 3rd, 2019. File photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images Finn McRedmond: Cummings v Johnson is more Gossip Girl than The West Wing

It is hard to avoid the takeaway that this is governance based on vengeance not substance

$alt Social welfare cannot fill the gap when pandemic payments end

Government should take this opportunity to reform the social welfare system

CETA, the free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada, which has recently garnered some attention, sees one of the most comprehensive tariff reductions ever agreed by a free trade agreement with the EU. Photograph: Ulrich Baumgarten/Getty Images Leo Varadkar: Ireland needs a trade deal with Canada

With no oil, gas or diamonds, Ireland relies on trade for our standard of living

For well under €50, anyone can buy a small body camera with night vision to clip to a front pocket and record everyone in sight Kathy Sheridan: Jury is still out on body cameras

Worn by gardaí or citizens, surveillance devices raise issues for privacy and evidence

$alt 5:13 Eye-watering rents extracted from younger generation in city centres are not sustainable

Michael McDowell: Concentration of property wealth in hands of a few will bring political change

Palestinians wave the Palestinian flag as they protest at Damascus Gate of the Old City, in Jerusalem, 26 April 2021. Protests became nightly since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in anger over police blocking off access and gathering on areas around Damascus Gate of the Old City. EPA/ATEF SAFADI Discrimination against Palestinians constitutes apartheid

Human Rights Watch report concludes that, from an international law perspective, Israel has indeed crossed the line

A young child has a swab sample collected  for Covid-19 testing in New Delhi, India, a country currently swamped with a further wave of the virus. Photograph: Rajat Gupta/EPA Where does God enter the frame as this Covid pandemic rages?

There’s no straight answer, but the question does make a person look beyond themselves

$alt 6:34 Fintan O’Toole: Boris Johnson’s gibberish may be surreal but it's also dangerous

When the British prime minister can’t be bothered to lie, he lapses into nonsense

Catholic social thinking was a strong influence on the controversial “woman in the home” provision of the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland. File photograph: iStock Irish Constitution: Real alternative to ‘women in the home’ clause now needed

Too much time has already passed and further procrastination is not acceptable

“There’s no reason why we can’t have bookshops setting out their literal stalls on streets and in public squares and parks.” File photograph: iStock Una Mullally: Public space must be prioritised for bookselling

Feeding your mind is essential – and reading has helped many battle through pandemic

$alt Bobby McDonagh: Nothing wrong with thinking sometimes our politicians get it broadly right

Rare for any political development to be presented as a reasonable attempt to grapple with complex reality

The Citizens’ Assembly looked closely at  the social value of care, the need to support carers and to give more choice to those receiving care. Catherine Day: Importance of care key Citizens’ Assembly theme

Assembly was concerned about carers’ low remuneration, lack of sick pay and pensions

Greek beach: The fears about civil liberties are perfectly valid, but as we inch towards the end of the longest and most dispiriting lockdown anywhere, they feel decidedly academic. 5:16 Jennifer O’Connell: Data privacy vs week on Greek beach?

Vaccine passports tricky as State still uses paper, pens and Excel spreadsheets

$alt Fintan O’Toole: Ireland’s brilliant education system is a complete fluke

Education is our greatest asset, yet we produce it in an utterly haphazard way

US president Joe Biden. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty 8:04 David McWilliams: A 30-year economic supercycle ended this week

Agenda of unlikely radical Biden is to give economy back to the man on the street

Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe has said there will be no ‘cliff-edge’ withdrawal of Covid supports. Photograph: Julien Behal. No Fee 5:03 As Ireland reopens, the Government faces a treacherous balancing act

Cutting the emergency Covid-19 supports presents a huge political challenge

$alt Breda O’Brien: Government treats religion as whimsical hobby

State ban on public worship is unjust and labyrinthine regulations fool no one

A heave in Fianna Fáil to unseat leader Micheál Martin seems likely, but what would Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael do then? 6:20 Coalition partnership settles down into grumpy middle-age

Big two may be uneasy allies but realising this circumstance is recognition of political reality

Tipperary native Martin O’Meara: “During four days of very heavy fighting he repeatedly went out and brought in wounded officers and men from ‘No Man’s Land’ under intense artillery and machine gun fire.” Anzac Day not a celebration but commemoration

Martin O’Meara VC served bravely in Australian and New Zealand Army Corps

$alt Denmark is wrong. Syria is anything but safe for returning refugees

Returnees have been disappeared or murdered shortly after arriving

‘Surveys illustrate women, particularly mothers, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.’ Image: iStock Whole Covid response has been framed with the ‘the average man’ in mind

From anti-natal care to school closures the disproportionate impact on women is not being taken into account

A small clinical trial carried out in South Africa showed the AstraZeneca vaccine had only 10 per cent efficacy against mild or moderate disease caused by the South African B.1.351 variant. Photograph:  Andreas Solaro/AFP Kingston Mills: Mistake to insist 60-69 year olds take AstraZeneca vaccine

Vaccine recipients have right to make informed choice and not be coerced