Property investment companies are making mass-purchases in estates. Photograph: The Irish Times

Inside Politics: It is now estimated there will be as few as 12,000 house completions this year

A crowded Croke Park in July - 2019 -  GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final. Photograph: INPHO/James Crombie

Groups of up to six being permitted for indoor dining in July, parliamentary party meetings told

Mr Varadkar told colleagues it was never intended to allow investments funds to purchase housing estates. File photograph: David Dear/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

Fianna Fáil housing minister to address Fine Gael meeting over investor funds controversy

Minister Ryan announces additional funding for litter prevention and cleaning as Ireland prepares for an outdoor summer. Photograph: Maxwells

Ryan announces over €8 million funding for litter prevention ahead of outdoor summer

First-time buyers can also avail of the existing Help-to-Buy Scheme which gives tax relief up to 10 per cent of the property’s value (to a maximum of €30,000)

Shared equity scheme will drive up house prices, says Opposition

Some of the houses in the new Bay Meadows estate in Dublin 15. Photograph:

Bay Meadows in Dublin 15 was purchased by Round Hill Capital and SFO Capital Partners

Labour Party chairman Jack O’Connor. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

End of partition requires more than ‘sectarian headcount’, says Jack O’Connor

The North’s Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots,  the frontrunner to succeed Arlene Foster as DUP leader, has boycotted  a North-South ministerial conference. Handout photograph: Edwin Poots/PA Wire

Experts say DUP upheaval and NI protocol row will put pressure on Belfast Agreement

“We cannot stay disconnected forever. Ireland is a globalised country,” the Taoiseach  said. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

‘We cannot stay disconnected forever. Ireland is a globalised country,’ Micheál Martin says

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said  there will be no need for an incentive to encourage people to holiday in Ireland during the summer months. Photograph: iStock

Covid-19 support was introduced last year to encourage people to holiday in Ireland

A number of large wind-farms are already planned for the shallow banks off the east coast but in time technology will allow the development of floating wind farms in the far-deeper Atlantic waters off the west coast. Photograph: iStock

Opposition accuses Darragh O’Brien of railroading National Marine Planning Framework through Dáil

Visitors to Doheny and Nesbitt pub on Baggott Street Lower in Dublin in October 2020. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Hotels will open doors on June 2nd with outdoor hospitality at restaurants and pubs due back June 7th

Charles Haughey and Bertie Ahern at Leinster House. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

Former taoiseach says trial cast a shadow over Fianna Fáil for a decade

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney: He said the Government was working with the EU to allow products with Northern milk to be seen as an EU product. Photograph: Getty Images

Coveney tells Oireachtas committee it is possible to find pragmatic ways of addressing issues around Northern Ireland Protocol

 Former minister for housing  Eoghan Murphy in 2019. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Resignation comes as a shock as few thought bruising spell in housing would be last time in cabinet

Signs in the Phoenix Park on social distancing. File photograph: Crispin Rodwell/ The Irish Times

People’s level of worry about coronavirus dropping, according to ESRI report

A vial of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. File photograph: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Walk-in centres show positivity rate of 3% as vaccine portal opens for 60-64 year olds

A Rome mural of ET on the occasion of the Earth Day. Photograph: EPA

Biden commitment weighty, coming in wake of EU promise on warming, say Irish activists

 Micheál Martin:  he said there was a sense of cohesion and  unity, which was very strong. Photograph: Getty Images

Pact delivers good wins for agreed candidates, and bolsters sense that the main parties can work together

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, pictured on Tuesday at  Dublin Castle,  said the Government would make a comprehensive statement next week on what might happen in May, and for some other sectors in June.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Government statement on what sectors can reopen in May and June to made next week

Antigen testing will ‘play its part in allowing students back’ onto college campuses after the summer, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party. File image: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach rules out lifting of overseas holiday ban in early summer

The vacancies in the Upper House arose due to the resignations of Fine Gael’s Michael D’Arcy and Elisha McCallion, a former Sinn Féin MLA and MP. Photograph: Tom Honan

Hazel Chu, whose decision to run caused divisions in Green Party, loses out

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said that of the 12,500 social houses, 9,500 would be new-builds with 2,450 acquired through lease, with a small number of acquisitions. File photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Too early to know full impact of Covid-19 restrictions on construction plans, says O’Brien

 ‘The HSE recognises that it can be challenging to access people on reserve lists quickly and that doses should not be wasted.’ Photograph: Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty

New guidelines say vaccine centres should create reserve lists for extra doses

The taskforce is to examine what the impact of potentially increasing the weeks between vaccine doses would have on the rollout. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Donnelly awaiting recommendation from deputy chief medical officer and vaccination taskforce

 Darragh O’Brien:  “At the moment you have people paying rent at twice the amount of what they would be paying in a mortgage.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Darragh O’Brien plans to make developers set aside 20% for local authorities

Nurse vaccinators Francis Galvin, Joan Love and Mary Hanafin  at the HSE Vaccination Centre in the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Alan Betson

Delaying second doses of Pfizer vaccine may be a possibility, subject to Niac assessment

Tánaiste  Leo Varadkar arriving at Government Buildings for a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Martin says ‘progress is being made’ with vaccine rollout after turbulent 24 hours

Some 90 per cent of Irish agricultural land is under grass and the sector has a reputation for having one of the lowest carbon footprints in Europe, the committee heard. File photograph

Scientific solutions not enough alone to reach 50% reduction, says State agriculture body

The Department of Social Protection  has said it has been alerted to people receiving phone calls and mobile text messages purporting to come from welfare officials. Photograph: iStock

Scam texts and messages offer people the chance to claim a payment for €350

The number of positive Covid-19 cases among healthcare workers has fallen from 10 per cent of all cases in December, down to just two per cent. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Nearly 20 per cent of adults inoculated while daily deaths fall from 49 in January to eight

The Citywest Covid-19 vaccination centre in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Government open to considering offering AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 60 who request it

The Canadian Embassy Chargée d’affaires Suzanne Drisdelle speaking to the Oireachtas Committee on EU Affairs discussion on CETA. Photograph: @CanadaIreland/Twitter

Agreement due to be ratified in December 2020 but pulled back after several Green TDs threatened to vote against it

The Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs will hear that  Irish beef exports to Canada have increased by 700%  since Ceta came into effect. Photograph: Brendan Fitzsimons

Irish beef and cheese exports to Canada rose 700% and 400% respectively due to Ceta

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney:  he is expected  to  hold meetings with UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab and Northern secretary Brandon Lewis on Thursday.  File photograph: Damien Storan

Ministerial meetings are on schedule despite mourning protocols for Prince Philip

Travellers board a bus at Dublin airport as part of the mandatory quarantine regime: Category 2 selection does not distinguish between Covid-19 hotspots in the EU and the rest of the world.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Coveney disingenuous to suggest law not intended for countries where Irish live

Members of the Defence forces look on as passengers arriving at Dublin Airport load luggage onto a bus before being transported to a hotel for a mandatory 12-day quarantine.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Minister raises strong doubts about the capacity if 43 countries are added to list

Everybody knew the list would be added to as a new surge of Covid-19 affects Europe and beyond. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Inside Politics: Recent moves in government make refloating of jammed ship on Suez Canal look ordinary

Parents have struggled to order properly fitting shoes for growing children during the lockdown. Photograph: Getty

Guidance to be published enabling shops to measure for children, according to Taoiseach

Taoiseach Micheál Martin addresses the nation from Government Buildings in Dublin. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Inside Politics: Taoiseach’s latest address to the nation ditched the poetry in favour of more workable prose

Members of the Oireachtas  launched broadsides against what they argued was both Facebook and Twitter  facilitating trolling, online abuse and the propagation of untruths, often under anonymous accounts.  Photograph: Getty Images

TDs and Senators accuse the companies of allowing anonymous accounts make false and misleading statements

Even the modest easing of restrictions, such as ending the 5km rule, will not happen all at once

Inside Politics: Cabinet subcommittee hears submissions from Nphet, HSE and vaccine tsar Prof Brian MacCraith

Everything will rely on a nationwide network of super-fast broadband. If it’s not there the plan will not work.  Photograph: Getty Images

Plan has 150 different actions to revive rural Ireland including working from home or using flexible work spaces located a short c(...)

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster visits the SSE Arena which has been converted into a temporary Covid-19 vaccination centre, in Belfast. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Appointments for the jab are currently open to those aged over 50 in the North

The Beacon Hospital in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Twenty teachers and staff in a fee-paying school received ‘leftover’ vaccines in the private hospital last week

 Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Transport and the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan at the launch of the Government’s  ambitious plan for rural Ireland at Dublin’s Croke Park. Photograph: Julien Behal

‘Transformational’ project is comparable to rural electrification scheme, says Eamon Ryan

Preliminary figures from the first day of Covid-19 testing of symptom-free people at the HSE’s five walk-in centres showed a positivity rate of between 1%   and 2%  on more than 1,700 swabs taken.  Photograph:   Getty Images

Minister: ‘Absolutely no defence’ after Bray fee-paying school teachers get jabs from private Beacon Hospital

Tullamore resident Christine Cutler  leaves the HSE mobile walk-in Covid-19 test centre in the Co Offaly town, one of five centres which have been opened to catch  asymptomatic cases of the virus. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Taoiseach says ‘leverage has to be there’ to ensure Europe ‘has sufficient vaccines’

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and  deputy leader Catherine Martin. Ryan barely survived the leadership contest with Martin last year.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Row over Hazel Chu’s bid for Seanad seat highlights split between party’s leading figures

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu secured nine nominations to run as a candidate in the Seanad byelection. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Dublin’s Lord Mayor to contest Seanad byelections as Independent candidate

A Department of Health poll indicates public confidence in Covid vaccinations is recovering from a slight dip recorded during the suspension of the AstraZeneca jab last week. Photograph: Getty images

Donnelly says people will be able to avail of the facility without a referral order

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu:   running in the Seanad byelections as an Independent  despite the Green Party voting not to nominate a candidate. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Ryan says he will ‘talk to my colleagues’ about Chu’s role as Green Party chairwoman

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said ‘it’s a challenge beyond compare but one we are going to achieve’. Photograph: Julien Behal

Introduction of five-year carbon budgets will drive change, says Taoiseach

Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan,  brought the legislation to the cabinet meeting today. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Bill would be game changer in reducing emissions – Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan

Joe O’Brien of the Green Party. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister of State for Social Inclusion Joe O’Brien says he will seek to reduce rate to 2%

Hazel Chu was endorsed by several Green Party politicians. File photograph: The Irish Times

Party indicates Lord Mayor of Dublin ‘not contesting election as Green Party candidate’

The Crowne Plaza Hotel  is among the hotels run by Tifco. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Arrivals from 33 countries must quarantine for two weeks in designated hotels from Tuesday

A construction site in Dublin’s city centre. Under plans being examined by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, home-building could be considered from April 5th, but work on commercial premises such as offices would still not be allowed. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

If Covid-19 cases remain high travel restrictions could be expanded only to 10km or perhaps 8km

‘Paddy Holohan has chosen not to renew his membership of the party,’ a SF spokesperson said.

Tallaght councillor created controversy with remarks on his podcasts

“We can’t on the one hand be encouraging the switch to public transport . . . and have half of all female users feeling it’s not safe for them,” says Minister for Transport  Eamon Ryan. Photograph: Tom Honan

Green Party leader urges bigger security presence on services ‘so confidence can return’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and US president Joe Biden hold a virtual bilateral meeting, as seen at the White House on St Patrick’s Day. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccine supply and Northern Ireland discussed during virtual bilateral meeting

Mr Martin said that his private meeting with the president, which lasted one hour and 15 minutes, was ‘a warm upbeat’ one.

US does not necessarily have stockpile of vaccines to release to other states, says Taoiseach

Minimum pricing for alcohol will be brought in from January 2022 under proposals signed off on by Cabinet today. File Photograph: iStock

Cheap drink in supermarkets and off-licences blamed for alcohol-related deaths

Taoiseach Micheál Martin the Green Party have both said they have confidence in Leo  Varadkar. Photograph: Collins

Tánaiste says he is keen to have Garda investigation into leak concluded

Harry and Sadhbh.

Technology provides a tool to communicate and an outlet to learn skills and be creative

People are allowed to travel 16 kilometres from home for exercise in the North. Photograph: iStock

Disappointing the two governments have not coordinated their actions better, GPs say

Dublin South-Central TD Patrick Costello said he took the challenge on foot of legal advice that ratifying the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (Ceta) may give rise to constitutional issues.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Party discusses TD’s challenge to Government plan to ratify trade agreement

Fine Gael’s parliamentary party was told by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar that no decision would be made on easing restrictions until the first week of April. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Nursing home visits may be possible from April 5th, main focus on schools and childcare

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said  a lot of ‘easy narratives’ about vaccination supply and distribution were out there but the challenge remained a significant one.  File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Fine Gael party meeting hears calls to allow more people attend religious services

Varadkar withdraws claim that Sinn Féin have no Protestants TDs, MLAs or Senators. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sinn Féin TD Violet-Anne Wynne corrected Tánaiste on Twitter saying she is Protestant

Two Oireachtas committees to examine CETA ahead parliament ratification. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

European Affairs and Enterprise and Trade committees will scrutinise agreement

Alan Rusbridger, former editor of Guardian Newspapers. Commission has unanimously agreed to support Rusbridger’s continued membership. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Minister says decision was ‘not arrived at lightly’ after criticism from Máiría Cahill

Minister for Education Simon Harris: “In the post-pandemic Ireland, we will need a new international strategy to help us grow our education, science and research sectors.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Plan for third level forms part of three-year strategy being published by Minister

Máiría Cahill. Photograph: Alan Lewis

Woman raped by IRA figure criticises former Guardian editor over recent opinion article

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is hopeful the bill will pass all stages of the Oireachtas by the end of March, allowing it to be signed into law during April. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

New law will increase paid leave from two weeks to five weeks

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu is understood to be interested in running in the Seanad byelection. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Party leadership understood to be against contest by Dublin Lord Mayor

Ischgl is a swish and popular ski resort in southern Austria – and a perfect petri dish for the spread of the new coronavirus. Photograph: Getty Images

A small Austrian ski resort played a key role in seeding Ireland’s first Covid cases

UK prime minister Boris Johnson: his government remains committed to the protocol and informed “at official level” the European Commission and the Government of its move. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/PA

Downing Street insists protocol period extension does not break international law

Independent TD Catherine Connolly told the debate: “You have said it without a hint of irony. It is ironic that you are not talking about opportunities here in Ireland (for Irish speakers) but the opposite, about the problems.” Photograph:: Lorraine O’Sullivan for The Irish Times

Seventeen TDs take part in debate on the Irish language to mark Seachtain na Gaeilge

The first phase of the project will involve rewetting over 31,000 hectares in a move that will make the bogs act like a giant sponge that will sequester over 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into perpetuity. File image: Bryan O’Brien

Bord na Móna responds to farmers’ concerns by saying it is a ‘responsible land owner’

Farming organisations will appear before the Oireachtas joint committee on agriculture on Tuesday to voice concerns. Photograph: iStock

Bord na Móna plans to rewet 31,000 hectares of bog to be used as carbon sinks

‘Missing middle’ properties include terraced housing and mid-rise apartments. Photograph: Alan Betson/File

Prof Orla Hegarty highlights need for ‘missing middle’ properties in Ireland

Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Government Buildings in Dublin this week, where he addressed the nation on the latest Covid plan. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Coalition’s two heavyweight parties see concerns spilling over amid frustration and fear

 Social Democrats TDs Jennifer Whitmore, Cian O Callaghan, Catherine Murphy, Róisn Shortall, Gary Gannon and Holly Cairns outside  Leinster House. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

More than 700 sign up for party’s virtual convention in indication of rising profile

The first steps to a wider reopening of society from lockdown could begin at the start of April rather than later in the month if the advice from Nphet on the metrics is favourable. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Taoiseach tells party meeting restrictions on outdoor activity, sport, construction and travel rules could be eased on Easter Mond(...)

Head of the commission Judge Yvonne Murphy: ‘The report is there, it is not going to be revised. What would they possibly ask the commission to do – redo the report?’ Photograph: Eric Luke

Investigative body says it would be legally and morally wrong to retain testimony

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman sought advice from the Attorney General over the deletion of the tapes. Photograph:Gareth Chaney/Collins

It is expected the Government will oppose the Social Democrats motion but may seek a compromise

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will bring changes to the vaccination schedule to Cabinet on Tuesday, which will mean those with certain chronic health conditions will be offered earlier vaccinations. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Level 5 to be extended and easing of outdoor restrictions unlikely

Are we here in Ireland being too narrow, too blinkered, too selfish in our unseemly rush to vaccinate those who don’t really need it but can afford it? Photograph: Nathalia Angarita/Bloomberg

This small but distinct group of people in our society are more susceptible to the virus

 Gardaí are seen at a  Covid-19 checkpoint outside Terminal 2 in Dublin airport. Photograph:   Collins

Legislation is quite draconian, and will deprive people of their civil liberties for 14 days

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly’s mandatory quarantine legislation was approved by Cabinet. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times.

Inside Politics: Bill comes with stiff sanctions for those who try to evade quarantine

Green Party parliamentarians challenged the widespread belief that smoky coal burned better. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Concerns expressed about impact on fuel-impoverished households

The proposed Bill will include harsh penalties including imprisonment for anyone who tries to avoid compulsory detainment.

Exiting quarantine after 10 days may be permitted with a negative Covid test

Micheál Martin in  a Covid vaccination unit in Cork City Hall. The Taoiseach says a significant uptick in vaccination supplies from April will see large numbers vaccinated by the end of summer. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/ Provision

Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be available in Ireland by April

Figures gathered by Pavee Point show that   3,500 of the 35,000-strong Traveller community have contracted Covid-19 since March, an incidence rate well over twice that of the wider population.  Photograph: Getty Images

Pavee Point has urged Travellers to respect rules around ‘very difficult issue’ of numbers at funerals

The Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 will meet on Thursday and would examine the wider reopening of schools. Photograph:  iStock

Government says there needs to be a ‘note of caution around mass mobility’

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s legal representatives have been in contact with gardaí but Mr Varadkar has yet to speak to detectives

Dublin GP, a friend of the Tánaiste’s, was then the president of a rival medical organisation

One-third of all fresh mushrooms sold in the UK market come from the island of Ireland and the industry is  worth €125 million.

Peat gardening products and mushroom sectors claim they face obliteration

A deserted Liffey Street and Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin on Thursday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Daily cases need to fall to 100 by mid-March and be maintained for easing of restrictions, according to sources

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath says we will see ‘larger State’

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