British ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow  and prime minister Theresa May:  “I remain confident of a good outcome,” said Ms May. Photograph: Aris Oikonomou

British PM asserts commitment to backstop while Varadkar says time limit unworkable

The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll

Presidential candidates approval on October 17th 2018

The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll analysis

Presidential candidates approval on October 17th 2018

Irish Times opinion poll: President set to be re-elected at his ease

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and  Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD during a visit to the O’Devaney Gardens project in Dublin 7 on Monday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Parties want to fight elections when strong, Fine Gael maintains lead over Fianna Fáil

Major parties approval ratings from MRBI poll with Fine Gael leading the pack October 16th 2018

Fine Gael maintains lead over its rivals despite a dip in satisfaction with Varadkar

Taoiseach  Leo Varadkar. Photograph: AFP/Getty

State is currently stuck with a zombie Government unable to do anything

Seán Gallagher and Martin McGuinness on RTÉ’s ‘Frontline’ during the 2011 presidential election campaign. Photograph: RTÉ

Presidential candidate sued broadcaster over tweet mentioned during live debate in 2011

Denis Naughten: His departure from Government reduces the number of votes the Taoiseach can command in the Dáil to 54 – three short of a bare majority when Fianna Fáil abstains. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Independent auditor will assess if process has been compromised, says Taoiseach

Former  minister Denis Naughten and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Analysis: Political drama could pull broadband project off the rails

Varadkar either wants an election, or he wants Fianna Fáil to believe he wants an election. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Martin doesn’t want election, but wants Fine Gael to know he isn’t afraid of having one

An image of the Coombe hospital in Dublin from Google Street View.

Post-budget measures aim to avoid another huge overspend in the sector next year

Interested groups listen to Minister Donohoe, as he delivers Budget 2019 Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Donohue avoids the rabbit-from-a-hat surprises of predecessor McCreevy

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue: stressed the Government needed to be cautious in the light of a possible no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Martin says Fianna Fáil to back Government until Finance Bill passes on December 11th

The overall health budget is set to be €17.2 billion, an increase of 6.6 per cent, with new and existing measures grouped under the Sláintecare heading.  File photograph: iStockPhoto

Health and housing to be main focus with mild income tax cuts for middle earners

The threshold at which people hit the lower 2%  USC rate, which is levied on income between €12,000 and €19, 000, will be widened by €500 to take account of a 25 cent increase in the minimum wage

All social welfare payments will increase by €5 from next year, with the Christmas bonus restored to a double payment

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar:  he wants a lengthy extension to the confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil  or he wants an early election. Fianna Fáil wants to deny him both

How the Taoiseach handles the budget, Brexit and Fianna Fáil could determine his future

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Budget to see a dramatic swing towards spending rather than tax reductions

 The Minister for Finance,  Paschal Donohoe, at the publication of  a White Paper in advance of Budget 2019. Photograph:    Donall Farmer

Independent Alliance expected to secure full restoration of social welfare Christmas bonus

Lord Andrew Adonis (centre) pictured with Stephen Donnelly and Darragh O’Brien of Fianna Fáil,  former Conservative deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine and Liberal Democrat former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg in Dublin last March. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Brexit is ‘imploding’ and a second referendum is likely, according to Lord Adonis

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May greets delegates after giving her keynote address on the  final day of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on Wednesday. Photograph:  Stefan Rousseau/AFP/Getty Images

Theresa May believed to be ready to make concessions on Border to break logjam

May promises under no circumstances will there be a border down the Irish Sea, and no diminishing of the constitutional status of the North within the UK. So say all of us, says Dublin

Dublin is taking heart at the level of alarm exhibited by the DUP at the Conservative Party conference

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil the Good Friday Agreement ‘is not a piece of British legislation’. Photograph: Kerstin Joensson/ AP Photo

UK preparing move on the backstop as DUP fears rise

Michael Lowry: he said  he approved of Mr Donohoe’s commitment to a cautious budget

Independent TD says Paschal Donohoe gave him ‘an overview of how the budget would be structured’

Peter Fitzpatrick: “I felt isolated, like I was just there to push a button”

Colleagues knew Peter Fitzpatrick, who will run as independent in next election, was unhappy

Peter Fitzpatrick’s decision to run as an independent in the next election has surprised some party colleagues

Analysis: The Government is rarely in difficulty as several Independent TDs either vote with it or do not vote

Brexit minister Dominic Raab: ‘If the EU want a deal, they need to get serious’. Photograph: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Inside Politics: Expect lots of chest beating and flag waving in Birmingham for the Tory troops

 Minister for Finance  Paschal Donohoe: his meetings with his ministerial colleagues on the budget in recent weeks have been relatively straightforward. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Donohoe to hold meetings with FF to obtain assent for budget day package

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. ‘For all Donohoe’s talk about prudence, he will give away more than €3.5bn in tax cuts and spending increases in 10 days’ time.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Unions and Opposition have a duty to act responsibly to avoid a repeat of the crash

Minister for Health Simon Harris. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

HSE and Government prepare communications campaign for rollout of abortion services

Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan at the count centre for the local and European elections. File photograph: Keith Heneghan

State is set to gain two MEP seats from Brexit, while boundary changes will also take a toll

Minister for Health Simon Harris: ‘It’s 125 days since we held a referendum . . . During that time more than 1,100 Irish women have had to travel abroad to access terminations.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Simon Harris is optimistic about GP accord to have abortion available by start of 2019

Presidential candidate Joan Freeman: Des Walsh, an Irish businessman living in Los Angeles, and a friend of Ms Freeman, has provided her with a loan of €120,000 to finance her campaign. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Herbalife was accused by US consumer body of operating like a pyramid scheme

  Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley: his spokesman  said he would be making no comment “until he’s finished with the doctors”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

MEP fell out with party over a change of groups in the parliament five years ago

Joanne Hayes at the Kerry babies tribunal in 1985. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Taoiseach raised compensation possibility for woman at centre of Kerry babies tribunal

Minister for Health Simon Harris will introduce the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 to the Dáil next week. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Health to introduce legislation to Dáil next week

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy attending a conference at the Mansion House for the Dublin Simon Community annual report on homelessness. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Relief will be short-lived as housing Minister Eoghan Murphy survives no-confidence vote

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Minister for Housing  Eoghan Murphy. File  photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Taoiseach calls Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in Murphy as tactical and cynical

Sinn Féin has put forward a motion of no confidence in Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy. Photo Gareth Chaney Collins

Inside Politics: Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy comes before Dáil

Catherine Byrne  surprised Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy by publicly opposing a new housing scheme in Inchicore at its launch. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

Murphy says he hopes Byrne 'won't be pulled into this Sinn Féin stunt later this evening'

Former Labour MP Gisela Stuart (second, left), former Brexit secretary David Davis, Jacob Rees-Mogg  and former secretary of state for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers, on Monday. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Bus and coach services could also cease and road hauliers be banned if no deal agreed

There will be an extra seat for the Dublin and South constituencies at the next European elections, a boundary review published on Monday states. Photograph: iStock

Reallocation of UK’s 73 European Parliament seats allows for more Irish representatives

Whatever Theresa May offers on the Border – fresh proposals are expected on the backstop in early October – it is unlikely to meet all of Leo Varadkar’s requirements.  Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg

Varadkar may have to decide whether to dig his heels in on backstop or fight again

British prime minister Theresa May makes a defiant statement on Brexit negotiations from Downing Street. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prime minister says EU should treat UK with respect and stop making ‘unacceptable’ demands

Dublin believes Theresa May’s domestic political needs, especially the forthcoming Conservative Party conference, influenced the tone of her remarks of her Downing Street statement on Friday. Photograph: Paul Grover/Pool Photo

Dublin points to influence of Tory party politics but says UK’s position is unchanged

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has been accused of being disconnected from his brief. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Minister: ‘I make Government policy, but don’t ask me for details. I don’t micro manage’

British prime minister Theresa May looks back following an EU leaders’ group photo on the second day of a summit in Salzburg, Austria. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Prospect of deal between EU and UK is as far away as ever after fractious EU summit at Salzburg

Minister for Transport Shane Ross indicated he would be making his own submission to the ongoing public consultation on the BusConnects project and objecting to some aspects of it. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Minister for Transport indicates at constituency meeting he will object to aspects of plan

Paschal Donohoe: said Government would continue process of raising in future budgets. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Donohoe rejects criticism that Irish workers are paying more tax now than in 2008

Sources said Theresa May remained solidly committed to the British pledge in December to a “backstop” for Northern Ireland. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Leaders gather in Salzburg as Taoiseach outlines preparations for no-deal Brexit

Minister for Health Simon Harris at launch of the HSE’s HPV Vaccine Information Campaign at the Royal Hibernian Academy Gallery, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Health committee told waiting period is unnecessary and without medical reason

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and (in background) the UK’s Brexit minister Dominic Raab. Photograph: Eric Vidal/File Photo/Reuters

There are five key stages left this year ahead of March deadline, starting in Salzburg today

Irish officials believe the suggestion of an Irish/EU concession on the backstop was a misrepresentation of a briefing to EU ambassadors by Sabine Weyand, deputy to the chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Photograph: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

British understandings of potential concession clash with Irish take on goods checking

Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament: “In the next weeks, there are tough decisions to make,” Mr Weber said ahead of his meeting with British prime minister Theresa May on Tuesday. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

European People’s Party leader says ‘it must be clear that a country leaving is losing advantages’

 Britain’s Brexit secretary  Dominic Raab at Downing Street in London. File photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Cabinet secretary claims British parliament is ‘unionist’ and will defend UK’s ‘integrity’

 Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin: Labour isn’t getting noticed much these days. It has drifted to the margins. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Time for Labour to march from oppositional sidelines to gain seats and political influence

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald told the Dáil that “women were literally allowed to die before fault was admitted”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Claims of some politicians misleading and potentially damaging to a screening programme

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: is “embarrassed” for medical profession in wake of  Dr Gabriel  Scally’s report into the CervicalCheck controversy.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Varadkar says attitude of medical staff ‘knowing best’ goes beyond CervicalCheck

 Finian McGrath: he said the government had been talking about ratifying the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities for 15 years, but he and the Independent Alliance had made it happen. Photograph: Getty Images

Alliance wants to see tax on gambling raised from 1% to 2% in the budget

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe told his Cabinet colleagues that demands for more money for the health sector could reduce the sum available for other measures. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Overspend on health this year estimated at €600m, Paschal Donohoe tells Cabinet

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, who for many years was a professor in law at Trinity College as well as practising barrister, is regarded as a leading authority on the Irish Constitution.  Photograph: Collins Courts

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan ratified as advocate general whose advice assists judges’ deliberations

Dr Gabriel Scally in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin, at the publication of his final report of the scoping inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme. Photograph: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Some descriptions of how women were informed of audit results beggar belief

Minister for Health Simon Harris speaks to the media after today’s Cabinet meeting that discussed the Scally report. Photograph: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Scally report ‘finds huge failings’ in CervicalCheck programme

The Scally report is expected to be sharply critical of failures in the smear test programme but does not single out any individuals for blame. File photograph: Getty Images

Scally report to recommend overhaul, and automatic informing of errors to women

President Donald Trump, seen here speaking  during a ceremony on the 17th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on Tuesday,  has   cancelled his planned visit to Ireland in November. Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Irish government said visit ‘postponed’ for ‘scheduling reasons’ while White House said no final decision made

Under pressure: Minister for Housing  Eoghan Murphy’s is under mounting pressure to resolve Dublin’s housing problems. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

If key targets not met, Murphy threatens to transfer responsibility for emergency shelter

Ireland’s relatively generous provision for older people will mean that total age-related expenditure in Ireland will pass the EU average over the next 15 years, piling pressure on the public finances

Demographic profile may lead to longer working lives and require reforms to boost productivity

Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Pat Leahy: The two parties fight, but the reality is they are still the best of frenemies

Fine Gael think-in: Minister of State for Housing Damien English and Leo Varadkar on Friday. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

No-deal Brexit will not affect open borders between the two countries, says Taoiseach

The Chief Justice, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell and Mr Justice Peter Charleton met privately in chambers on Thursday to consider Joanna Jordan’s formal written application for leave to appeal and the State’s formal written opposition to that.

Government ‘on track’ to have legislation through in the next parliamentary session

 Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government Damien English and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, during the Fine Gael think-in  in Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Murphy warns local authorities set up more family hubs or lose some of their powers

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy  at the Fine Gael think-in  Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Party is aware that time is needed to fix housing crisis as election drums beat in the background

Minister for Health Simon Harris indicated he wished to see new powers for the minister under law to supervise hospitals. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Minister says he remains concerned about circumstances of death of Malak Thawley

Describing the number of families in emergency accommodation in some local authority areas as “unacceptable”, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy revealed he had written to a number of unnamed councils and told them they need to make immediate changes. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

Fine Gael Minister says he will use emergency powers on accommodation crisis

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Fine Gael think-in in the Galway Bay Hotel, in  Salthill on Thursday. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Taoiseach: If there was a housing quick fix, others would already have suggested it

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “We have limited room for manoeuvre and for big announcements on budget day.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Interview: Taoiseach will not call election but reiterates desire for stability around Brexit talks

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Inis Meáin, Aran Islands: ‘I’m not proposing to go to the Phoenix Park next week or the week after and have an election before the budget, not at all.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

FF rejects Taoiseach’s request for early negotiations on extension of agreement

Fine Gael Ministers at Cabinet recognised that Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath had a different view to them on the Trump visit, a Cabinet source said. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Alliance members say they will protest against US president during his Ireland trip

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar published a letter he had sent to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin last week seeking immediate negotiations between the two parties. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Micheál Martin rejects confidence-and-supply offer ahead of start of budget talks

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wrote to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin seeking talks before the budget on an extension of the confidence-and-supply agreement. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

‘Not an appropriate way to conduct serious negotiations,’ Fianna Fáil leader says

Leo Varadkar knew that Micheál Martin wasn’t going to bite on his invitation to early talks on the renewal of the confidence-and-supply agreement. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Pat Leahy: It seems Taoiseach wants the idea of an election to stay bubbling, but why?

United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) peacekeepers mark the 40th anniversary in March of its peacekeeping presence in southern Lebanon, in southern Lebanon. Photograph: Ali Hashisho/Reuters

The additional personnel will be deployed within two current Defence Force companies

Micheál Martin has turned down a request by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for talks to extend the Confidence and Supply Agreement for another two years. Photograph: Maxwells

Taoiseach sought Fianna Fáil backing to extend minority government for two years

Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin know that to trip the Dáil headlong into a general election at  the most crucial point in the Brexit process would be colossally irresponsible. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Inside politics: Two issues will overshadow the opening weeks of the political term: Brexit and the future of the Government

Britain’s Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and EU chief  negotiator Michel Barnier  in Brussels on August 31st. Photograph:  Emmanuel Dunand/ AFP/Getty

Rabb and Barnier meet in Brussels but no agreement how Border might work

Michael D Higgins  has the single greatest quality that any politician can have: people like him. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

As the hopefuls pile in, Seán Gallagher’s entry to the race is the most intriguing

Fianna Fáil intends to raise the proposed closures as part of the forthcoming budget process. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Opposition wants ‘public service obligation’ placed on An Post to preserve the service

duonurse

Nursing unions threaten industrial action unless Government comes up with pay plan

Áras an Uachtaráin  said President Michael D Higgins would make a statement about his election campaign arrangements when he lodges his nomination papers. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Businessman Peter Casey joins fellow TV ‘dragons’ in race to secure nomination

Eoghan Murphy Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister must bear some degree of responsibility for the slow rate of house-building

Seán Gallagher reacts as Martin McGuinness tackles him on the issue of a Fianna Fáil fundraiser. Photograph: RTÉ

Frontrunner was on the brink of highest office until his campaign imploded in the final days

Businessman Seán Gallagher, who  is to seek a nomination to stand in the forthcoming presidential election

Businessman contested 2011 election and was a front-runner in several opinion polls before the vote

Seán Gallagher was the surprise package of the 2011 race. Photograph: Eric Luke

Sean Gallagher expected to seek and secure nomination in biggest shake-up to race so far

Joanna Jordan has until Friday to consider a further appeal to the Supreme Court. Photograph: Collins Courts

Joanna Jordan’s ‘reckless’ challenge to vote result dismissed by appeal court

Four out of five respondents to the poll say the visit of Pope Francis has not changed their view of the Catholic Church. Photograph: Ciro Fusco /EPA

Opinion poll shows just one in three think pope’s comments sufficient

Pope Francis shakes hands with  Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as he prepares to leave after his visit to Ireland, on Sunday. Photograph: Maxwells via Getty Images

Large majorities want end to rigid teaching on celibacy, women priests, contraception, same-sex marriage

Simon Coveney: expected to stress Ireland’s desire for the closest possible relationship between the EU and the UK. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

Tánaiste says backstop deal will be easier if relationship between EU and UK is clarified

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: he retains a touch for the public mood but sometimes acts rashly.  Photograph: Tom Honan

Mary Lou McDonald and Micheál Martin have squandered some hard-won political capital

A move allowing UK agricultural products access EU single market is  likely to be welcomed by the Irish Government as it could overcome many of the potential difficulties at the Border. File photograph: Mary Turner/Bloomberg

Barnier signals willingness to ‘improve the text’ of backstop agreement

Vicky and Jim Phelan  with their solicitor, Cian O’Carroll, leave the Four Courts Tuesday after the announcement of a settlement of their High Court action for damages. Photograph: Collins Courts

Analysis: Growing feeling that measures package must protect screening programme

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