Maybe Level 5 really is our one last best shot. But are we willing to accept it without question – without a lot of questions? Photograph:  Stephen Collins Jennifer O’Connell: No transparency behind swerve into severe lockdown

Lockdown gloom is permeated with questions as to process that imposed it

Dublin city centre in lockdown: “Each time there is a lockdown, fewer jobs will return after the reopening and fewer businesses will make it back. The floor level of unemployment will rise.” Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos We need to reverse our thinking on lockdown

Cliff Taylor: We are starting from a position of what can stay open rather than what must close

An eerily quiet Temple Bar in Dublin: By ordering the private sector to close, in order to avoid overwhelming our hospitals, the State is putting most of the economic burden on the small business sector.  Photograph:  Stephen Collins/Collins Photos David McWilliams: Lockdown decision makers still get paid. Those they shut down do not

Government should aid small businesses directly to help prevent bankruptcies

US president Donald Trump’s campaign now consists primarily of showing himself to his people and inviting them to bask in the wonder of his resurrection. Photograph: Gene J Puskar/AP Fintan O’Toole: Donald Trump’s campaign has a joyful new message – ‘I’m alive!’

The same cannot be said for the 220,000 Americans the virus has killed so far

The scene at the site of the fire that claimed 11 Traveller lives in Carrickmines in 2015. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw Travellers’ mental health needs proper attention and research

Travellers and their concerns only seem to rise to surface of Irish consciousness when there is a controversy or tragedy

Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson: There is “an almost colonial mindset” among some London ministers and officials dealing with devolved governments and city mayors. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP World View: Scottish momentum evidences need for new thinking

Scottish independence and Irish unity linked politically by common problems

Members of the UN Security Council vote.  (Photo by KENA BETANCUR / AFP) Ireland will join the Security Council at a critical juncture

Given the persistent blockages in the UNSC, including a succession of Russian vetoes over Syria, I fear the EU, UK and other progressive partners will need to do more outside the UN to defend and promote its values

Pope Francis: “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God.” Photograph:  Alberto Pizzoli/AFP Pope’s words on homosexuality must find form in papal document

None of us ever imagined pope’s profound shift to endorse same-sex unions

Repeated lockdowns will shrink the economy to the extent  it cannot pay for the social goods tax revenues purchase for us. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Pat Leahy: Fiscal reality will halt cycle of lockdowns

Central banks won’t allow governments run huge Covid-aiding deficits forever

To what extent is the daily dose of dire data driven by media hunger, knowing the visceral worries it will provoke, and the viewers and readers it will ensnare? Photo: Nphet Briefing.  Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin Irish media needs to take a look at how it is covering pandemic

The way the crisis is being reported is adding to public anxiety

It is obvious that Nphet, dominated by Department of Health and HSE voices, is not representative enough. Will more thought be given now to the suggestion in the Government’s document from June about the governance structures of Nphet that its composition “may change further over time in line with the expertise required across the response”? Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Diarmaid Ferriter: We have been infantilised with promises of Christmas

Government has promised us a slice of Christmas if we improve our ‘behaviour’

Stormont Minister for the Environment Edwin Poots: The entire debacle was met with a lurid amalgamation of exasperation and humour – social media posts saw users inquiring if others had contracted “Catholic Covid or Protestant Covid”. Photograph: Paul McErlane/EPA Poots’ comments about Covid-19 would be funny if they were not so serious

Minister manages to turn a deadly global pandemic into green and orange issue

People in Grafton Street in Dublin during the first day of the Level 5 restrictions in the city.  The shutting down of almost all retail business, apart from supermarkets, will have a devastating impact on employment and mental health, even though there is little evidence that shopping is a major spreader of Covid-19. Photograph: Damien Eagers/PA Nphet now in control of the country’s economic and social policy

Government badly needs to find alternative strategy to lockdowns

 Pope Francis waves from the balcony of St Peter’s basilica during the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” Christmas message to the city and the world, at St Peter’s square in Vatican.  (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images) Pope’s statement on same-sex unions came too late for me

But it does go a long way towards healing the sense of rejection I have felt all my life as a gay man

Members of An Garda at a checkpoint on the R173 in Co. Louth at the Loughanmore area close to Carlingford.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire Railroading new fines and rules through Dail will undermine public support

Government proposes to extend extraordinary ministerial powers with minimal debate

Demonstration calling for the end to the direct provision system  at the Garden of Remembrance, in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan Ireland can and must do much better for asylum seekers

Catherine Day: We need a system that makes us proud of how we treat vulnerable people

‘The meeting of the three Coalition leaders (pictured), three Ministers, the chief medical officer and the deputy chief medical officer on Saturday seems like a patent absurdity.’ Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Finn McRedmond: Ireland’s sick system has been exposed by Covid-19 gender imbalances

Leaving women out of high-level Covid conversations can have nothing but negative effects

The official answer to Covid-19 is the same as it has always been: lockdown and release until a vaccine is available. Photograph: Yasin Akgul/Getty Images Newton Emerson: The North is not the reason there cannot be all-Ireland zero-Covid

The Government would not be pursuing zero-Covid strategy even in a united Ireland

St Patrick’s Day, Dublin. ‘Absolute symbolic equality between all religions would rule out maintaining the flags of countries such as Sweden and the UK, which feature crosses, or having Christmas, Easter or St Patrick’s Day as national holidays.’ File photograph: Cyril Byrne Removing Catholic symbols and practices from State schools no easy task

The boundary between religion and culture is a fuzzy one and not just in Ireland

 Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan:   We need another emergency team that researches, quantifies and advises on other health issues involved in lockdowns. Photograph: Collins Michael McDowell: What exactly is the price of accepting this Nphet advice?

Emergency health team does not just recommend change – it advocates for it

Out in the world, the dismay at this ceaseless, shouty Babel of voices, political leaks, agenda manipulation and all shades of one-upmanship, is palpable. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill Kathy Sheridan: Now is the time for humility, not cynicism

Covid-19’s icy fingers are ripping the heart and hope out of ordinary people, but we need to find a unity of purpose

Voters wait to enter a polling place to cast their ballots during early voting in Suwanee, Georgia.  Photograph: Nicole Craine/The New York Times Votes of Americans living overseas could be crucial in this election

It is estimated that 6.5 million eligible voters currently live outside of the US

Pedestrians  in Dublin. Lockdown will save lives: that is undeniable. For anyone concerned about losing a loved one to Covid-19, this may seem like the only salient fact. However, as a society, if we decide to pull the lever and to save these lives, we must be clear about what exactly the alternative we are choosing is. Photograph: Paul Faith/Getty Images Covid 19: A moral dilemma for society

We must be clear about exactly what alternative we are choosing

I now accept that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican may well have done me a favour when they intervened in my life eight years ago and decreed that I could no longer perform public ministry as a priest. Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters Rome may have done me a favour by removing me from priestly ministry

Fr Tony Flannery: For the first time in my adult life I could question rigid doctrine in a way I never had

Dr Tony Holohan and team at a Covid -19 update press conference. ‘It is not the job of Nphet or of the Expert Advisory Group to make decisions. That’s the Government’s job – the experts advise and recommend, the Government chooses.’ Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin Fintan O'Toole: State bumbling along with ad hoc decision-making as Covid crisis worsens

We are bumbling along with ad hoc arrangements created in a panic last March

The interior of No. 15 Ushers Island where James Joyces story the Dead was set. Pic:Alan Betson Turning Joyce’s house of ‘The Dead’ into a tourist hostel beggars belief

Great writers such as Joyce are the Irish equivalent of the pyramids in Egypt, the Colosseum in Rome

Undated photo of the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway. Photograph: PA Mother and baby home documents should not be ‘sealed’

It denies access to survivors and historians for an unreasonable length of time

Tánaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar: Ireland, in the main, is well served by its current politicians. Photograph:  Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire Mark FitzGerald: We can be an example of a great social democracy

Events in 2020 are moving Ireland inexorably towards a more just society

The now-closed Bernard Shaw on Richmond Street: The things that emerged from the last recession – independent venues, studios, small and scrappy creative spaces – were literally bulldozed.  Photograph: Tom Honan Una Mullally: Arts need more than just mere funding

Cheap rent and studio space would foster creativity but Dublin forces its artists abroad

In 1927, a 30ft Celtic cross was erected on Partridge Island, New Brunswick, Canada, to the memory of all who had died during the typhus pandemic 80 years before. Partridge Island – A typhus pandemic and the Irish of New Brunswick

An Irishman’s Diary

The rate of US coal industry’s decline under Donald Trump has been much steeper than it was under Obama. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images Fintan O’Toole: Trump has failed to restore blue-collar America’s lost paradise

President who promised to bring back coal oversaw its steepest ever decline

Workers treat a building in Dublin city. File photograph: Cyril Byrne David McWilliams: The rules of the property game have changed

A meaningful dereliction tax would change the game further, and for the better

Why is despair in an older person treated so differently? Why is every other avenue, including gold-standard pain management and palliative care, not explored? Breda O’Brien: Calls for euthanasia fuelled by ageism and ableism

No compassion when those with terminal illness made wonder if they are burden

A woman walks past a cafe on Main Street, Cavan, on Thursday, as counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan  move to Level 4 of the Government’s Living with Covid-19 plan. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire Cliff Taylor: We can sustain the rescue mission into next year – but then what?

State has leeway, but the cost of another Covid-19 lockdown would be significant

Tomás Ryan: Are we ready to get serious about eliminating Covid-19?

Vocal opponents of a ZeroCovid strategy betray a basic insecurity: they have no strategy

 Power has revealed the true Donald Trump: vain, shallow, amoral, mendacious, irresponsible, incompetent. He has demeaned the presidency, and brought shame to the US. Photograph:Evan Vucci Pat Leahy: Whole world has stake in US voter choice in November

Trump must be defeated as dreadful leader, for demeaning role and for Irish prosperity

If Ian Bailey doesn’t quite relish the notoriety, he has never done a lot to dampen it down. Photograph: Paul Faith / AFP via Getty Jennifer O’Connell: The fascination with Ian Bailey has become an industry

As long as the Ian Bailey show goes on, Sophie Toscan du Plantier remains lost in the story

US president Donald Trump: US military and economic predominance was so complete through much of the 20th century that relative decline was always inevitable. Photograph:  Brendan Smialowski World View: Trump is symptom not cause of US’s worst flaws

Dysfunction and decay in American democracy are harbingers of waning authority

Members of An Garda at a checkpoint on the R173 in Co. Louth at the Loughanmore area close to Carlingford. The Garda have set up 132 checkpoints as part of Operation Fanacht, which is aimed at encouraging the public to adhere to health guidelines. Liam McBurney/PA Wire Jack Lambert: Lockdowns can be avoided, but here are 10 things we need to do

We cannot continue to feed fear, anxiety and depression

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. The striking thing about their spending plans was that they went far beyond a range of measures designed to protect people from the fallout from Covid-19. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire Stephen Collins: Budget could channel politics in different direction

Coalition must show its actions are based on fairness and the budget is a good start

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan at a Covid-19 update press conference. There was swift, co-ordinated action in facing foot-and-mouth disease in 2007 but North-South incoherence in facing Covid-19 today. Photograph:  Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin Diarmaid Ferriter: The North-South incoherence in facing Covid-19 is ridiculous

It is absurd that, even with new stricter measures North and South, there is insufficient uniformity

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. He will not be able to be president of all of the US without prioritising the needs of the Trump voters, perhaps at the expense of the states that did vote for him. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images Biden must put the needs of Trump voters first

Democrat’s tactics may get him elected, but they will not make him a successful president

  A woman holds a sign for the QAnon conspiracy theory during a pro-Trump rally: adherents believe the world is run by a cabal of paedophiles.   Photograph: Stephanie Keith/Getty Finn McRedmond: Covid-19 pandemic the perfect breeding ground for conspiracy theories

Understanding why conspiracies thrive in crises may help prevent them taking hold

 First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill  speak to the press at Stormont. Photograph:   Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA  Newton Emerson: Covid decisions highlight Stormont's design flaws

System may not be ideal but aiming for all-party consensus in a pandemic is absurd

A man prays inside the bomb-damaged Ghazanchetsots (Holy Saviour) Cathedral in the historic city of Shusha,   15km from the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region’s capital Stepanakert. Photograph: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Erdogan reviving Ottoman role of regional power and defender of faithful

Turkey’s involvement in Nagorno-Karabakh most recent in series of opportunistic moves