Trad musician friends of Ashling Murphy console each other  at her funeral. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

No one one is suggesting laddish banter inevitably leads to murder – it’s more complex

'Sinn Féin has moved into the political mainstream in that prospective voters expect it to deliver on big, key issues.' File photograph: Alan Betson

Party members cannot continue to deny legitimacy of the State SF is expected to govern

Meryl Streep as president Janie Orlean in Don’t Look Up. Photograph:  Niko Tavernise / Netflix © 2021

Those who didn’t think the film was great were assumed to have missed the point by many who did

Caught clubbing: Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin speaks to the media outside the Finnish parliament building in Helsinki. Photograph: Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty

Sanna Marin faced a very Finnish type of reasoned backlash when caught out

Mick Wallace and Clare Daly. Photograph: Tom Honan

Support for anti-vaccine MEP Cristian Terhes is the latest odd turn in their opaque politics

People queue for the booster vaccine at Harold’s Cross Medical Centre: Perspective: the booster is a triumph. Case numbers are falling in those lucky groups.  Photograph: Alan Betson

First-world vaccine privilege is taken for granted

Garth Brooks at Croke Park in Dublin on Monday to promote his two concerts taking place there in September 2022. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Ireland is once again in the grip of GB fever – best cure is to just take a chill pill

The late former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick. Businessman Seán Quinn acquired a substantial stake in the bank prior to its collapse. Photograph: Court Collins.

Colluders enabled star-crossed titans of Celtic Tiger take such enormous gambles

Boris Johnson unmasked: The  UK prime minister during a visit to Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland. Photograph: Peter Summers/PA Wire

Amnesia is a debilitating side effect of Brexit

 Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a protest at Festival Park in Glasgow on the sidelines of the Cop26 UN climate summit. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images

Public pressure has already resulted in substantial levels of movement

Dún Laoghaire seafront. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dublin local authorities have sidestepped the great ‘unfairness’ of helping poorer regions

MP Mark Francois lays flowers at the scene near Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP David Amess was slain. Photograph: PA

Our politicians already talk about daily abuse, intimidation and physical threats

Britain’s Brexit man David Frost. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

UK negotiator David Frost is running out of time, and Brussels is running out of patience

Robert Watt, secretary general at the Department of Health, has been tasked with driving through Sláintecare reforms following the resignations of Laura Magahy and Prof Tom Keane.  Photograph: Collins

Give Robert Watt a chance to do the seemingly impossible and fix this plan

An Esso garage in London. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty

The chaos Britain has visited upon itself is not about Brexit, you see – not at all

President Michael D Higgins: By what ancient immutable rule is our presidential office – prized  for its lofty position above politics – obliged to respond immediately to any controversy, especially when abroad? Photograph: Getty Images

President should have anticipated likely response to decision not to attend Armagh service

 Mo Mowlam  was forced to reveal that she had a brain tumour following media commentary. File photograph: Toby Melville/Pool/Corbis/Reuters

The public will be the losers when it comes to personal abuse targeting politicians

Get yourself one of these bad boys, gloated a Birmingham lad, flashing an Irish passport. File photograph: Alan Betson

To many, Irish citizenship means a lot more than a Brexit avoidance ticket

Most people who yell swear words around the house would prefer not to see them on banners or badges or coming out of politicians’ mouths. Photograph: iStock

Who decides when a taboo word slides into acceptable use?

 An Afghan burqa-clad women  in Kabul, August 14th. Photograph: Epa/Hedayatullah Amid

When did basic women’s rights come to be regarded as 'privileged'?

Taliban rule has seen women hunted out of work, while education could appear only in public spaces with a male chaperon, effectively leaving lone women and their children to starve. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Last two decades saw healthcare for women, school enrolment in Afghanistan improve

Mary Lou McDonald: On Sunday morning, Sinn Féin posted a video commemorating the death 40 years ago of hunger striker Thomas McElwee and describing him as ‘kind and good-natured’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Party’s glorification of killers hard to reconcile with its progressive policies

It will stagger no one that the former Dublin lord mayor and Green party chairwoman, Hazel Chu,  is considering a Seanad run to replace Ivana Bacik. Photograph: Damien Eagers

Could Trinity’s electorate be inspired to shock the Government into action?

Emmet Brennan after his narrow loss to the world’s number two: took out credit union loans to support himself, worked a part-time job and, dogged by injury, managed to qualify for the Olympics in June. Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO

Athletes triumph with ambition and talent as gold medal-obsessed fans pontificate lazily

Sinn Féin rally at Liberty Hall with Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald. Photograph: Tom Honan

The Sinn Féin leader embodies middle-class privilege but peddles an anti-establishment line

Boris Johnson’s EU minister, David Frost, says he will not rest until the protocol is torn up. Photograph: Getty Images

Promising to have protocol gone by July 12th is part of a pattern of recklessness

Eoghan Harris’s complaint of being deprived of platforms was  predictable and  nonsensically incongruous. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

There is a distinction between robust commentary and vitriolic abuse

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

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

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

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

The Oxford/AstraZeneca remains a kind of scientific miracle. The specific clot risk translates to a total of five deaths if the entire population was vaccinated with it. Photograph: iStock

In real life, face-to-face with someone shrunken by 13 months of rules and worry, my news would have been akin to a taunt

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and Eoin Ó Broin at a rally in Liberty Hall last year. The party has chosen to register its internal voter database, packed with voter details, to a US-hosted domain. Photograph: Tom Honan

As a political party, Sinn Féin is not alone in its creation of a big internal voter database

On Saturday, a friend rang from a queue for the nice public toilets on St Stephen’s Green. It took 20 minutes to get to the top of it. Photograph: Bryan O Brien

Dublin is caught short for provision of conveniences – especially for women

 Russian president Vladimir Putin: Just seven in 100 Russians have received a dose of Sputnik V. That’s less than half Ireland’s vaccination rate. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev

We must remember the ‘losers’ who miss out and the privileged who have stolen their place

British prime minister Boris Johnson: Should the EU nod graciously and facilitate the UK in completing its world-beating programme ahead of schedule? What would the leviathans of Britain First do in the EU’s position? Photograph: Hannah McKay

Brussels ban on drug exports would derail Johnson but such a fight not worth EU’s time

A recent study by Trinity College Dublin and Maynooth University found that one-in-five men reported being sexually assaulted or harassed throughout their lifetime. File photograph: Getty

Are we ready at last to address the dynamics of male violence, power and abuse?

Gardaí clash with anti-lockdown protesters  on Grafton Street in Dublin. The threats to lynch public figures, the “paedophile” smears, the roars of “traitors” at gardaí, the calls to a perverted “patriotism” and “freedom”, the thuggish aggression, the casual defiance of the law. The irony is that despite the ubiquitous Tricolour, nothing about it is Irish. Language and symbolism are lifted whole from the Trump/QAnon playbook. Photograph:  Artur Widak/Getty Images

Kathy Sheridan: How is civil society to challenge their abhorrent views?

Denmark – with the same population as Ireland and a far older demographic profile – is working off a plan it calculates will end with 900,000 more vaccines than expected, despite the let-downs.  Photograph: Liselotte Sabroe/AFP via Getty Images

Public tolerance for vague, incomplete or out-dated information is at zero

Trucks transport bodies of Covid-19 dead in Bergamo, in spring 2020: Among many images that have haunted us since.

Last 12 months compelled all of us to confront exhausting maze of moral dilemmas

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly: Stratospheric levels of self-confidence are required to stride into the hottest job in Government mid-pandemic, with no ministerial experience of any kind and both your secretary general and chief medical officer vanishing out the door. Photograph:  Julien Behal

Despite his armour-plated confidence, the Fianna Fáiler fails to convince

Dutch policemen arrest a man during clashes with a large group of young people on Beijerlandselaan in Rotterdam on January 25th. Photograph: Marco de Swart/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

We eschew physical violence because we have learnt the power of the ballot box

According to a recent poll only three in 10 of English people would be upset if Northern Ireland opted for reunification. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Now is not the time for a Border poll

US National Guard troops march on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Tuesday ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration. Photograph: Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Biden’s inauguration is a moment of hope but myths are too ingrained to be shifted easily

 Mairead McGuinness has known the taste of defeat – at the 2007 general elections and the 2011 presidential campaign. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Our EU commissioner is among the guests at upcoming Irish Times Winter Nights festival

Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol on January 6th.  Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

We’ve taken to aping the protest style of Trump supporters

Marian Finucane and John Clarke. Photograph: Kieran Slyne

He recalls her odd attitude to doctors, their ‘crazy’ love and their late daughter

‘The ghost of Christmas future had arrived, manifest in European borders shutting down to UK arrivals. Mile upon mile of trucks were stacked on the M20 to Dover.’ Photograph:  Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty

Rather than a sign of weakness, a U-turn shows the presence of a functioning mind

John le Carré. File photograph: David Azia/the New York Times

The author’s story is a reminder to keep in sight the millions of decent Britons

Brian Stanley: When  he rises in the Dáil next week the only useful statement would be a declaration that the time is long past for using the murdered dead as a means to an end

England has long been a haven for our loved ones needing to escape social shaming or seeking a decent life

The past never goes away. It is in our DNA, our folk memory, our mindset. It’s what still sends men out to acquire guns and murder innocents like Lyra McKee. Photograph: Jess Lowe

Careless tweets from influential people like Brian Stanley matter terribly

RTÉ presenters David McCullagh and Miriam O’Callaghan with retiring reception supervisor Phil Collins

Controversial gathering daft and stupid but hardly a hanging offence

My friend was unaware of the law that takeaway drinks cannot be consumed within 100 metres of the pub that sold them. Does everyone know that? Photograph: Getty Images

‘Save Christmas’ drive relies on narrative of the emigrant’s return that belongs to another era

Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe: Man of majestic self-certainty. File photograph: Alan Betson

At a human level, judge is in a pitiable position. At institutional level, he’s a source of fascination

The question for his enablers will always come back to this. Were the tax cuts, the regulation-slashing, the right-wing “originalist” judges worth the plunge into the Trump sewer of lawlessness, nepotism and corruption? Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Can we ever go back or have the four years of his presidency taken us in too deep?

‘When a Covid-19 vaccine emerges, the mother of all marketing and reassurance jobs will be required.’ File photograph: Damien Eagers/PA Wire

Scepticism, fear and anti-vax beliefs contrast with stay-away patriotism of 1967 emigrants

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

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

CervicalCheck’s clinical director, Dr Nóirín Russell, says people are afraid to  come into healthcare settings because of fear of Covid-19. Photograph: iStock

Out of 110,000 smear test invitations sent this summer, only 12,000 women responded

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan. It’s no secret that Government and Nphet meetings have hardly been a hive of harmony up to now. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Country is split down the middle just when it needed unity of purpose

Donald Trump. Photograph: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

This is a president in desperate need of vast injections of cash to save his bacon

 ‘British prime minister Boris Johnson developed the idea of an EU blockade in a typically blustery, mendacious article.’ Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Simon Coveney’s BBC interview offered a steely rebuke to idea each story has two equal sides

UK prime minister Boris Johnson  at 10 Downing Street in London on Tuesday. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The UK is still our neighbour despite Boris Johnson’s obfuscation on Brexit

Former commissioner Phil Hogan: EPP think tank  Wilfried Martens Centre researcher Eoin Drea seems to think  our ignorant bloodlust blinded us. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Social solidarity will not flourish where power sticks thumbs in its people’s eyes

The Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway,  where the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner was held last Wednesday. Photograph: Hany Marzouk/PA Wire

Best of 2020: Woulfe, Hogan, O’Rourke and Hayes trigger lazy comparisons with the Galway tent

John Hume: “Politics is not only about principles but the ability to put principles into practice. The second is as important as the first.” Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan/Collins

There is a trove of lessons there for the new crop of politicians who want to learn

Vicky Phelan has confronted her own death to the point where talking about it has come to seem almost normal, a gift in itself for all who must face up to crucifying prognoses. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The time for a debate in Ireland on assisted suicide has come

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte: Apart from being a member of the frugal four, he was never ambiguous about his views on Hungary and Poland. Photograph:  Stephanie Lecocq

Rule-of-law conditions in EU deal target its authoritarian, hate-spouting nationalists

Mary Kenny: Her decision to fire a serious, legal question about Irish travel restrictions out to Twitter just days before her flight was distinctly odd.

There is no room for Covid-19 risk-taking or bellyaching about 14 days of quarantine

Public-service announcement posters in Melbourne counter a conspiracy theory that 5G technology causes Covid-19. Photograph: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Polls show high percentage of populations harbouring belief in conspiracy theories

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary is the new Chief Whip but he did not get a ministerial position. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The ‘understanding’ that Ministers represent their regions is a dangerous fiction

Clare Bailey, leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Diving into the Republic’s politics at such a critical moment is quite a departure

Are there any differences at all between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael?  Photograph: Damien Eagers/Leon Farrell/PA Wire

The Civil War ceased being relevant to FF and FG policies in the 1950s

An Amazon fulfilment centre in Peterborough,  England. Photograph: Chris J RatcliffeAFP/Getty Images

Despite criticism of how it treats workers, the company is having a good pandemic

 US president Donald Trump: Every malignant, divisive, racist word that has left his mouth, every lie, every declaration of support for a murderous autocrat, has led to this juncture in world affairs where a killer virus is just another electoral tool. Photograph: Oliver Contreras/EPA

Covid-19 committee must realise this is not the gotcha territory of the banking inquiry

Eoin O Broin  tweeted a link to an Oliver Callan skit about Leo Varadkar checking his notes on the Late Late Show, and said that  “criticising, questioning and lampooning those in power is healthy, and should never be shut down”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Kathy Sheridan: Oliver Callan and Eoin Ó Broin should know better

 People take part in a “reopen” Pennsylvania demonstration last week  in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, US.  Hundreds of people  gathered in the US state  to protest measures that are urging most of the nation to stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic. File photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

Almost every reckless decision ever can be traced to someone persuaded he was a brilliant maverick

Michael Lowry: appears impatient as others battle with the Covid-19 pandemic and Britain’s flight to Brexitland, while dealing with the three-way election verdict. Photograph: Tom Honan

Constituency supremacy ideology of no use to FF and FG in government formation

The psychological and physical benefits of a short walk outdoors should not be denied to older, vulnerable people. Photograph: iStock

A designated time each day would help those struggling in mandatory confinement

More than four out of five of us believe the current Government is doing a good job. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Why rush into an unsatisfactory arrangement while Covid-19 threat remains?

‘In the shadow of grief, upended lives, separation and tragic death, we are taking back control, not by chasing imperial phantoms but by recognising that we are the weapons capable of facing down Covid-19.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

On the whole, the language on this pandemic is suddenly quite cosy, but many dangers lurk

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi makes a statement about the US government’s response to coronavirus, March 23rd. Photograph: Epa/Joshua Roberts/ pool

Virus has introduced a new loaded label, ‘elderly with underlying conditions’

Shelves empty of toilet rolls in The Merrion Centre, Dublin. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Reaction to coronavirus has become virtual laboratory for national self-scrutiny or lack of it

The attempt to conflate a lack of trust in the HSE’s approach with other government trust issues is  bewildering. Photograph: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg

From facemasks to distrust of experts, coronavirus has brought out the worst in us

 As court officers escorted Harvey Weinstein off to custody, he left behind the walking frame on which he had conspicuously leaned for much of the trial. A telling detail about the man.   Photograph: Todd Heisler/the New York Times

Kathy Sheridan: The fight now moves on to Los Angeles

 David Cullinane of Sinn Féin: as long as their own representatives bring up the murky past, it is the media’s job to report it. This is not bias. It was not a mainstream journalist who dredged it up by shouting “Up the Ra” as recently as election night or suggesting that they “broke the Free State”. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Kathy Sheridan: Sinn Féin must grow accustomed to a vastly higher degree of accountability

“We know what we have and we value it. Ireland came fifth of 65 democracies worldwide in terms of our contentment with our democracy in a 2019 study.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Nothing about line-up of potential leaders suggests we have succumbed to an Orban or Salvini

 Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty: “But I call it just fairness. It’s about fair play.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Claims of privileged education serve too easily to deride Fine Gaelers across all media

That we should never cling to nurse for fear of something worse but that change for the sake of change is what landed the world with Brexit and Donald Trump.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Kathy Sheridan: Ask hard questions but beware of dangers of change for sake of change

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin faces Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in an election debate tonight. File photograph:  Leon Neal/AFP via Getty

Mostly they demonstrate if a candidate can remember their lines or not

“Holding a Saturday election seems enlightened, presuming that plenty of promotion is invested in the change; the fact it’s a weekend is no guarantee that people will prioritise the vote but it removes a lot of excuses.” File photograph: Frank Miller

Brexit showed how easily a country can tip over into something toxic and delusional

“You would have found [virtue signallers] upbraiding people for agonising over a blazing Notre Dame while children were being bombed in Idlib.” Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Moral grandstanding fosters anger and obscures improvements in many areas

“A frequently-cited hope in the financial meltdown was that a kinder, more contemplative spirit would emerge among all the folk who had slightly lost their way in the gold rush.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Big gift for Christmas 2019 Ireland is the fact that it’s not Christmas 10 years ago

 Brexit has morphed  from unicorns and sunlit uplands to getting “the incubus of Brexit off our collective backs”. And the worn-out people’s response is a weary, hypnotic “get Brexit done”. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

The perpetrators feel invincible. Lying is the default. Good luck to us all

Kevin Dowd, brother of  New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, holds one of his guest columns signed by President Donald Trump, in Rockville, Maryland. Trump wrote: “Kevin – thank you – you truly get it! Best wishes, Donald Trump.” Photograph: Gabriella Demczuk/New York Times

NYT columnist briefly handing controls to her Trumpist sibling leaves readers with a problem

Fine Gael local election candidate Verona Murphy canvassing at New Ross, Co Wexford. ‘We are still no wiser about the source of Murphy’s claims despite the gravity of them.’ Photograph: Patrick Browne

Fine Gael’s reaction to candidate's comments on immigration is infuriating

Lorraine Clifford-Lee canvassing in Portmanock, Dublin, last week. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

'Fact-free nonsense': Why would an educated young woman believe such things, never mind tweet them?

Ana Kriégel’s murder was carried out by a boy who saw a female object, not a sensate being.  Photograph: RTÉ News

Concerns over fact that most teenagers view pornography has been known for a decade

Katie Hill: Just a year ago, the newbie representative was a shooting star on Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team. Photograph: EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

The former US congresswoman has said she was worried that if she stayed in office, more compromising images would emerge

 One Government Deputy  compared some stupidly casual voting practices by certain Dáil members to the worst excesses of the Charles Haughey era. Photograph:  Getty Images

Fuss over voting practices is not on a par with historic political scandals

Extinction Rebellion activists were based in Merrion Square in Dublin for the duration of their ‘action week’.  Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Lord Mayor’s acquiescence to Merrion Square camp puts city chief in bind

A motorcyclist in Pettigo, Co Donegal. For urban dwellers accustomed to a Dublin Bus/Luas/Dart stop down the street, it must be hard to understand the head-melting time, effort and frustration involved in relying on rural public transport. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

Kathy Sheridan: Ryan’s suggestion taps into perception of bubble-living urban dwellers

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: a man with an undeniable air of entitlement and still prone to stupid gaffes. Photograph:  David Young/PA

Taoiseach’s after-dinner jibe at Fianna Fáil was a cheap and silly potshot

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