Robert Watt is moving from Merrion Street to Baggot Street to take up his new job as secretary general of the Department of Health. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Forget the Fitbit – this short stroll is bringing one public servant a very healthy salary boost

Carmel Larkin, who was born in the Tuam mother and baby home in 1949, holds a statement of apology from the Sisters of Bon Secours  at the grotto on Wednesday, on an unmarked mass grave at the site. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Catherine Connolly’s compelling, clear-eyed speech stood out over all the apologies

 Stephen Donnelly:  in August  he takes bronze in the trampoline at the  Olympics in Japan

In May Labour Party leader Alan Kelly explodes during Leaders’ Questions. ‘It’s what he would have wanted,’ says a constituency co(...)

Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly TD during a Labour press brieifng on The Sick Leave and Parental Leave (Covid-19) Bill 2020. Photograph:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Micheál Martin’s prediction about an ‘interesting’ year came true, and then some

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh: like something out of Le Carré.   Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Christmas visits off the menu as Oireachtas restaurant only open to serving members

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh: like something out of a Le Carré novel. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Christmas visits off the menu as Oireachtas restaurant only open to serving members

Taoiseach Micheál Martin at  the launch of Co-operative Housing Ireland’s Brookhill estate of 69 affordable family homes in Carrigaline, Co Cork. Photograph: David Clynch

Talk about spoiling the Opposition with presents of denials about bank bailout

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley: It was the dearth of Sinn Féin TDs in the chamber when their colleague was making his apology which was the most striking thing about the short episode. That was not by accident. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

To lose one TD may be regarded as misfortune but to lose two looks more than careless

Response to Green leader’s climate change speech has him blushing under his mask

Taoiseach Micheál Martin  strongly resisted Opposition charges that his Government is wilfully refusing to pay these students for working during the Covid crisis. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Micheál Martin reaches for Fempi as Opposition denounces failure to pay student nurses

Micheál Martin didn’t even try to sound optimistic when opposition TDs wondered where we were at now in this crucial, last-gasp phase of the Brexit negotiations.  Photograph: Laura Hutton

Micheál Martin offers little comfort as the clock runs down on EU/UK trade talks

The big surprise about the furore over mild-mannered TD Brian Stanley’s tweet last weekend was the fact that it was seen as such a big surprise. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Tweets are dominating the Dáil, and who’ll blink first as Brexit talks go to the brink?

 Danny Healy Rae  accused the Taoiseach of hurting and “belittling” thousands of rural-based publicans and their patrons. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Shock news of deputy’s conversion to value of evidence pulses in global research community

Taoiseach does a quick bit of Christmas shopping in the Kilkenny Shop on Nassau Street but all he really wants is a dozen com-it-tees as stocking fillers.

But Micheál wants a buffer of taskforce proportions between a ministerial posterior and the blame

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney: Has reassured the nation’s kids that Santa is exempt from travel restrictions. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Martyn Turner’s Endgames; Santa cleared for takeoff; tie dies; MMO’C makes fresh start

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. “One of the great strengths of the Irish judiciary has been its non-political characteristics,” said McEntee as she was rattling through her prepared script.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney

Micheál comes out of this saga looking like a patsy and Leo like a bit of a cad

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly (aka  John Wayne or Liam Neeson) vows ‘to get to the truth’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

Kelly vows to get justice – or at least the Minister for Justice – into the Dáil

The Taoiseach reminded the Dáil what happened when the country slowly opened up again during the summer after the first lockdown.  Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Taoiseach under pressure to bring on his Minister for Justice to answer questions

RTÉ: Don’t stand too close.

RTÉ social distance, McEntee in Dáil, Woulfe pack, pints in public and moving statues

Taoiseach Micheál Martin arrives for an all-party meeting at Government Buildings in Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Manure hits the fan over FF-FG AG deal and appointment of Séamus Woulfe

 Minister for Justice Helen McEntee:  it looks like she didn’t tell two of the people at her pre-Cabinet meeting about the other three applicants. Did she tell Leo Varadkar, her boss? Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Justice keeps low profile as Opposition looks for answers

Christmas decorations at the GPO on O’Connell Street in Dublin’s city centre. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Ballybunion locals are on the ball as they fly the American flag for Joe Biden

 Taoiseach Micheál Martin on his way to the Dáil chamber at  the Convention Centre in Dublin. Photograph: Collins

Waves of congratulatory indifference pulsed around the tiered velvet seating

If the lionising of Leo was hard to take, the lack of any fresh argument amid the overweening smug self-righteousness radiating from Sinn Féin  was even worse. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Party’s meaningless buzzwords, soundbites and rehashed arguments fail to find traction

Leas Cheann Comhairle Catherine Connolly said a record of what is said in the chamber has been kept since the first sitting of the Dáil 101 years ago. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Political anoraks rejoice as the Nealon’s Guide to the 33rd Dáil and 26th Seanad lands

Jim “Young Cuív” O Callaghan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

As far as Taoiseach is concerned, if it didn’t occur on his watch, it didn’t happen

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney leaves Government Buildings  after a fraught Dáil seating which saw  Leo Varadkar defending his actions in the GP contract controversy. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov /

Cabinet incontinence is all about some things being more confidential than others

Former commissioner Phil Hogan with EC president Ursula von der Leyen. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA

EC president drove five hours from Belgium, through Netherlands, to Hanover

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: dealing with explosive TNT revelation that the country’s much vaunted test-and-trace system collapsed when the very much expected second wave arrived unexpectedly. Photograph:  Johanna Geron/Getty Images

'Close encounters of the Covid kind, running on continuous loop in everyone’s head. And nobody knows the ending'

Hand-sanitising gel. Photograph: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

TDs are used to ensuring their seats are safe but never in quite such a literal sense as this

 Dr Ronan Glynn, right, gave  Nphet members a  dressing down this week over the amount of times ‘Nphet sources’ are quoted in the media. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The House ushers in a special moment but has no time for unladylike behaviour

  Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe   at Government Buildings ahead of  Budget 2021.  Photograph:  Julien Behal

Mother-and-baby homes, Level 4 restrictions and Brexit shove big spenders off agenda

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe arrive at  the Convention Centre in Dublin to announce Budget 2021. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath’s largesse leaves Opposition struggling to find fault

Green tea Taoiseach Micheál Martin was sorely disappointed with Nphet but determined to move on in a renewed spirit of working together for the sake of the nation. File photograph: The Irish Times

Leo rages at public health chief; Cap’n Grealish frets about the arts; Harris and Holohan framed

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly: at the centre of the storm over the Taoiseach and Tánaiste’s public annoyance over learning at the last minute that the National Public Health Emergency Team  was recommending an escalation to Level-5 lockdown. Photograph:  Julien Behal

Timelines and clashing accounts as Minister levels on Nphet

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar at the Convention Centre Dublin: the seats are built for the comfort of theatre audiences, not for taoisigh hopping up and down to answer questions. Photograph: Maxwells

Martin Kenny’s contribution to Leaders’ Questions had a few squirming in their seats

Michael Collins TD, a fan of carrying  the clear plastic visor, pictured during outside Leinster House on Tuesday with fellow Independent TD Mattie McGrath. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Mary Lou weathers aerosol bombardment from spitting-mad Independents

Supersleuth Alan Kelly is always one step ahead. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Snubbed TD’s 10-year-old daughter tells teacher what she thinks of daddy’s boss

Another helpline is needed but not for the beleaguered students

Former minister of State at the Department of Finance Michael D’Arcy. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Mary Lou McDonald serves up the latest farce du jour under Taoiseach’s wrinkled nose

Taoiseach Micheál Martin visited the Oliver Bond Street flats complex with a pep in his step. Photograph: Julian Behal

We are learning that a pandemic, along with a week, is a long time in politics

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Party leaders in bitter exchanges as spirit of acrimony endures

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Decision to provide special advisers to junior ministers comes as pandemic payment is cut

Minister for Culture Catherine Martin and Catherine Heaney, chair of the National Museum of Ireland, at the launch of the ‘Glendalough: Power, Prayer and Pilgrimage’ exhibition. Photograph: Julien Behal

Virtually no challengers for deputy leader's job as Greens hold their online conference

 You know they know they’re in trouble when Emergency Paschal is deployed to talk on a non-economic related matter. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Gaviscon Fireman Donohoe summoned to ease Government indigestion

The Taoiseach sounded like a man fighting for his political future.  Photograph: PA

Only disappointment for the Opposition would have been running out of popcorn

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Closer than ever, apparently. Photograph: Julien Behal

McGuinness puts some FG noses out of joint while Dáil rumour mill goes into overdrive

Taoiseach: Micheál Martin: “I do have a lot of experience of negotiations. You allow things to… evolve.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Taoiseach’s cautious approach draws boos from opposition benches

Mattie McGrath, it seems, was the only one making that case at the Business Committee, for a move back to Leinster House. File image: Collins Courts

The Dáil’s move to the Convention Centre continues to generate negative vibes

Would a €9 pork chop be a suitably priced food offering to appease the hungry Covid gods? Photograph: iStock

Gardaí now have the power to hunt down a new sub-class of cocktail sausage criminals

Newly appointed Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue (L), with President Michael D Higgins and  Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photograph: Maxwells

The fledgling Government has already brought about a truly monumental C-change

Richard Bruton: Dishy Dickie gets the Washboard of the Season award

Things can only get better for Taoiseach Micheál Martin as he turns 60 today

The sight of Richard Bruton in his Speedos led to a nasty altercation with one of the Three Ugly Misters (Leo Varadkar)

Sinn Féin’s Principal Boy turns on chief member of the Three Ugly Misters

Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary and Matt Dempsey of Tillage Industry Ireland at the launch of new report on the Irish tillage sector on Tuesday

Government bumbles on as risible sacrifice fails to rescue flagging fortunes

Richard Bruton, the new chairman of Fine Gael’s parliamentary party. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The country crew were not about to let the Dubs bag all the top parliamentary party jobs

Mary Lou McDonald arriving at the Convention Centre for the Dáil session. Photograph: Alan Betson

Sinn Féin leader regards Martin with barely disguised contempt. It seems to be mutual

 Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar at a Dáil sitting in the Convention Centre, Dublin. File photograph: Maxwell Photography/PA Wire

‘Business is booming and more people don’t know whether they are coming or going’

Barry Cowen. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Leo’s pomp, orchard-robber analogy, plastic forks and a six-minute Dáil to Dockside dash

 Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Anything that can go wrong for Micheál has gone wrong for him. Photograph: Alan Betson

Martin makes another trip to the park before returning to Dáil for an Opposition savaging

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: “This is a very sad day for Barry, his family and for me,” he told a hushed Dáil. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Martin knew he could not keep defending minister who would not defend himself in Dáil

Doing the Riverdance: Minister for Finance and new Eurogroup  president Paschal Donohoe. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Donohoe’s campaign to be elected head of the Eurogroup was ‘like the Eurovision’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin arriving at the Convention Centre in Dublin to take Leaders’ Questions at the Dáil session. Photograph: Alan Betson

Ministers few and far between at Convention Centre – taking social distancing a bit too far

Minister for Agriculture  Barry Cowen:  was forced to make his inaugural statement to the Dáil in his new role all about himself. Photograph: PA

Barry Cowen’s big apology rounds off Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s big day

Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s announcement of senior and junior ministers sparked Olympian levels of whingeing in the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Upset hopefuls in Fine Gael and Greens manage to hold their emotions in check

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar: Admits it is “very unusual” not to have a senior minister from the west. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Convention Centre houses high drama as political voices cry out in the social distance

In his first speech in the office Taoiseach Micheál Martin remembered a “blessed” childhood in a “close-knit working-class community” in Cork. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

The unprecedented Dáil session in the Convention Centre looked like a theatrical set for a play about a war crimes tribunal

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan announces that the party had voted in support of the proposed programme for government. Photograph: Sam Boal/

FF and FG could barely wait to get permission to go into government from Greens

File photo from June 15th Leo Varadkar on one of his last duties as Taoiseach. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

No stirring words but not a dry seat in the House what with all the extreme disinfecting

“It seems when God takes the young he takes only the best.” The coffin of  Det  Garda Colm Horkan is carried in Charlestown, Co Mayo. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Family, friends and colleagues give community stalwart a loving State funeral

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Meanwhile, Eamon Ryan recites poem to weary negotiators during intense late-night session

Green Party TD Ossian Smyth: “It’s a long time since I could have got something from a hairdresser.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dáil operatics on behalf of long-haired as pub grub menu mulled over ahead of reopening

 Simon Coveney and Paschal Donohoe greeting Green PAEamon Ryan Leader of the Green Party as he arrives for talks on Government formation at Government BuildingsPhotograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Leo tries to seem pleased for potential next taoiseach Micheál, while Eamon buys socks

Eamon Ryan: Unwisely said the N-word in full while making a speech against racism. Photograph: James Forde

Whatever happens now with Eamon Ryan’s leadership, there won’t be any statue of him

Labour’s Seán Sherlock couldn’t wait to hear what Green leader Eamon Ryan had to say as ‘a prospective tánaiste giving us a sense of his vision’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fluff is in the air as TDs talk climate change and government formation

Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec, was appearing before the Covid-19 committee, giving the view from the premium seats, in the premium seat.  Photograph: Alan Betson

The sight of Ibec CEO Danny McCoy in Leo Varadkar’s seat was too much for some TDs

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: There is  “a real absence of moral leadership from the top in the United States”. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Spurned Ministers carry on as before even though they have lost their seats

Michael Ring: ‘Whoever comes into government, I will see it as a slight on rural Ireland if the Department of Rural and Community Development is not left there.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Mayo TD had the air of a man presiding at the obsequies for his own ministry

Department of Health’s Jim Breslin: “There were no other beds on the island that we could get access to . . . If there were cheaper beds out there, we could have got them, but there weren’t.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Fire engine metaphors race to public-private hospital rescue

John Halligan cheered the incarcerated unfortunates in Leinster House on the hottest day of the year with radio comments about political collegiality and government formation. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

John raises cheers but fails to realise mutual dislike is no bar to unlikely political union

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was shooed away from the chamber by the Ceann Comhairle while his question and answer session was still in full swing

Mary Lou relishes the ‘benefit of great ventilation for all the hot air’ in the chamber

An image shared on social media at the weekend of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett meeting two friends in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Chestgate. Picnicgate. Posergate. Wickergate. Call it what you will. Varadkar did no harm

Labour Leader Alan Kelly on the plinth in Leinster House on Thursday.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Labour leader brings his stopwatch to give out about ‘bonkers’ health guidance for TDs

 Katherine Zappone: Many TDs thanked her for her work during her term of office

‘Unelected’ Zappone takes almost two hours of questions from the floor

People exiting Heuston station in Dublin on Tuesday, a day after phase one of Ireland’s five-phase exit plan was triggered. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Mathematics of doing Dáil business has reached levels of advanced calculus

 Labour  leader Alan Kelly at Leinster House on Thursday. ‘With each Dáil sitting and more unanswered questions, the colour-coded  Kelly alert level has been climbing.’  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Labour leader waves ‘explosive’ letter but Mattie McGrath blows his top completely

 The unsinkable Alan Shatter. Did he lay an egg along with everything else? Is there no end to the man’s talent?  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Motion to remove report critical of Alan Shatter from Dáil record thrown out for now

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “And Sinn Féin Ministers on their Facebook site promote the fact that they hand out food parcels to the poor – reminiscent to me of Donald Trump handing out toilet rolls.” Photograph: Leon Farrell

Varadkar awakes screaming from Leaving Cert nightmare to reality of Covid payments

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone. “As she has not reached the pandemic swaddling stage, the serving Minister for Children (without a seat) was able to report for duty.” Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall/PA

Zappone reports for duty in Leinster House as Ross remains in south Dublin cocoon

This time Leo addressed the nation from the bottom of the stairs.  And he skipped the poetry. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Slow and steady does it as Taoiseach unveils five-stage Covid Lockdown Exit plan

Danny Healy-Rae arrives at Leinster House for Thursday  afternoon’s Dáil session. Photograph:  Crispin Rodwell

Kerry TDs want UN to investigate China’s role in spread of coronavirus

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking in the Dáil on Thursday where social distancing measures were implemented

Dáil Sketch: Move to Convention Centre can’t come too soon for socially distancing TDs

‘I ask people to bear in mind that this is a virus that did not exist three or four months ago. It did not have a name two months ago.’

Will Micheál Martin ever get to sit in Leo’s seat? A political reshuffle of interest only to them

The brand new Finagle party will be seeking to woo smaller parties into joining it in government. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will be hoping his former coalition colleague, now Labour leader, Alan Kelly might be interested. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Smaller parties give short shrift to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s shameless wooing

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “We need to persevere and we need to maintain our discipline and resolve.” Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA

Three more weeks of restrictions as Leo quotes over-plundered Heaney

This isn’t Hungary. But Richard Boyd-Barrett has us worried now. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Dark day in the Dáil, as questions go unanswered by Ministers

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, HSE chief executive Paul Reid and Minister for Health Simon Harris in the conference centre at Citywest Hotel, Dublin, as preparations get under way for a Covid-19 isolation and step-down facility. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Ardfheiseanna in Citywest will never be the same again

Richard Boyd Barrett: ‘We need democracy to continue to function.’  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

People Before Profit leader ensures that Leo Varadkar will not lead us all up the Danube

Dublin Airport Police personnel applauding front-line healthcare workers tonight at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Julien Behal

Dáil debates emergency Covid-19 Bill, but there’s no debate about the need for speed

Minister for Health Simon Harris described an incident in which he was coughed on as  ‘surreal’. Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Simon Harris coughed at by middle-aged man ‘who looked pleased with himself’

A view of a man wearing a mask on O’Connell Bridge in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Signs for hope are outlined as the war Cabinet gives an update on The Emergency

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