Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. “Donohoe did a deal; he will pay the nurses more; he has opened his wallet.” Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Unravelling of pay deal will take months and may get subsumed into an election

Head of  Bam, Mr Cullinane, said the construction firm would ‘fully engage with PwC to ensure all relevant facts are disclosed’.  Photograph: Niall Carson/ PA Wire

Construction firm Bam says it will step down if asked to do so

Construction site of the national children’s hospital: its costs are soaring but the Government appears to learn  from  such mistakes. Photograph: Tom Honan

State is still learning about infrastructure costings. Hospital is dear but valuable lesson

Robert Watt, secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, said he had been asked to appear before four Dáil committees in connection with the children’s hospital.   File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

PAC wants to question DPER head Robert Watt about children’s hospital spending

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, pictured at the European Financial Forum in Dublin Castle on Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill.

Taoiseach warns Ministers not to engage with British requests to discuss the backstop

The contract for the children’s hospital was awarded to the lowest tender (€637 million) but the costs have rocketed since to an expected €1.7 billion Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Government concerned over companies low-balling for tenders for children’s hospital

Minister for Health Simon Harris (left) and Minister for Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe speaking after the nurses’ strike was suspended Photograph: Michelle Devane/PA Wire

Inside Politics: Paschal Donohoe concedes a pay increase to nurses of some €1,200 each

Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Finance  Paschal  Donohoe speaking to the media at Government Buildings on Monday night. Photograph: Tom Honan

Fears that pay increases for nurses may threaten wider public sector pay agreement

A view of the construction site of The National Children’s Hospital. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

Harris describes protest at his house as ‘plain and simple intimidation’

Supporters of a nurses and midwives protest at Merrion Square on Saturday linked to the now suspended nationwide strike. Photograph: Alan Betson

Fórsa poised to scrutinise Labour Court implications for other civil and public servants

UK shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer speaking to the media before holding a series of meetings in Congress House in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Labour MP visited Dublin and met unions, businesses and Tánaiste Simon Coveney

Minister for Health Simon Harris; the European Investment Bank’s Andrew McDowell and Werner Hoyer; and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the signing of documents for the EIB loan for the national children’s hospital, in December 2017. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Government’s efforts to project itself as a sensible manager of the national finances now undermined

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and UK prime minister Theresa May in Farmleigh House, Dublin Photograph: AFP/Maxwells/Getty

Private dinner meeting described as ‘warm’ by aides also focused on stalled NI assembly

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  and Minister for Health Simon Harris help turn the sod to mark the commencement of construction of the national children’s hospital in October 2017. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Few people believe, at this point anyway, that Harris will be forced to resign on the issue

Leo Varadkar and Theresa May. The two leaders do not have an easy relationship, and all their previous meetings have come across as scratchy.  Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

A common view is PM's visits to Brussels and Dublin are to show activity, momentum

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker receives prime minister Theresa May in Brussels. Photograph:  Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Varadkar to confirm EU’s repeated line to prime minister that backstop not on table

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation members on the picket line outside St James’s Hospital in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Latest public pay row is the most important battle of Paschal Donohoe’s ministerial career

British prime minister Theresa May  giving a speech on Brexit in Belfast on Tuesday. Photograph: EPA/Aidan Crawley

British prime minister says during Belfast visit promise to avoid hard border is ‘unshakeable’

Artist’s impressions  of proposed new National Children’s Hospital at St James Hospital campus.

Taoiseach yields to concerns around oversight layers and acceptance of responsibility

Revenue from the new taxes would enable the Government to fund “a five-year plan for eradicating poverty in Ireland”, the group says. Photograph: Alan Betson

Social Justice Ireland’s annual report says Ireland’s economic model not fit for purpose

 Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid appears on BBC’s  Andrew Marr Show where he suggested technology could be used to avoid a hard border in Ireland. Photograph: Reuters

Taoiseach frustrated UK is revisiting things already rejected and which will not work

The critical decision Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will face will be whether to offer an amendment to the  backstop to help Theresa May. Photograph: Tom Honan

Pat Leahy: The Government is going to have to decide whether to help Theresa May

Leo Varadkar will “outline the work under way in Ireland and the supports that may be needed given the potential impact of a hard Brexit in Ireland”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Few significant public developments likely until votes in the Commons on February 14th

Nurses were the most trusted profession. File image: iStock

Only 10% of those surveyed trust social media influencers

 Britain’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt leaves Downing Street. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

Corbyn says an extension may be required due to government’s ‘failure to negotiate’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: told Theresa May it was unusual to go back on an agreement she had made. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: Taoiseach tells British PM it was unusual to go back on an agreement she had made

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. British prime minister Theresa May offered no new ideas on how to avoid a hard Border in a telephone call with him on Wednesday night. Photograph: Tom Honan

Europe reaffirms backing for State ahead of visit to discuss no-deal Brexit preparations

Striking nurses and midwives on the picket line at Sligo Regional Hospital. Photograph: Brian Farrell

Despite widespread public support, there’s little hope of a resolution before next week’s planned stoppages

British prime minister Theresa May  addresses MPs following the results of voting on amendments put forward by MPs over the Government’s Brexit deal, in the House of Commons, London, on Tuesday. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire

PM wants to secure ‘legally binding changes’ to withdrawal agreement

Where next? Theresa May and Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

Gaffes creep in as realisation dawns that Ireland may soon face uncomfortable choice

British prime minister Theresa May arriving at Westminster on Monday. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Logjam continues as Conservative Brexiteers say latest proposal does not go far enough

Any successful amendments will not have the force of law, but will carry heavy political weight as a signal to Downing Street and Brussels of what kind of Brexit MPs are likely to approve. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Four main strategies are being proposed - some more attractive to Ireland than others

President Michael D Higgins addresses the audience at Dublin’s Mansion House on Monday for the centenary commemoration  marking  the first meeting of the Dáil, in 1919. Photograph: Maxwells/PA Wire

Opposition groups not looking like serious contenders after Mansion House performances

Leo Varadkar on the closing day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, where British ministers sought to increase the pressure on Dublin to water down the backstop. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Varadkar insists it is the British who have the responsibility to compromise over backstop

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during an interview in Davos. “We should never forget that Brexit is a problem that was created by Britain.” Photograph: Francis MacGuire/Reuters

Thoughts turn to backstop as device not principle and Border function as May lacks deal

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys meeting  EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager in Dublin yesterday as preparations for Brexit intensify. Photograph: Maxwells

Some already have laws giving government special powers should UK crash out

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group (ERG),  speaks above a photograph of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, during a meeting of pro-Brexit think tank the Bruges Group in London on Wednesday. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Hiring accelerated to deal with up to 20 million customs forms, a 12-fold increase

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney speaking to the media at Government Buildings on Tuesday. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Inside Politics: reports of disharmony in Cabinet over Shane Ross circulate around Leinster House

European commission’s chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas.  A commission source was adamant that Mr Schinas’s comments merely expressed a “statement of the obvious”. Photograph: Getty Images

Commission’s chief spokesman says ‘you will have a hard border’ when asked a about the effect of a no-deal scenario on Ireland

Tánaiste Simon Coveney again insisted that Ireland would “not accept” a hard border. Photograph: Tom Honan

Did the commission spokesman misspeak about a hard border? That would be very odd

 Minister for Finance  Paschal Donohoe and Tánaiste   Simon Coveney, who is also Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Brexit. Photo: Tom Honan

‘Government will not support the re-emergence of border infrastructure’, says Coveney

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney speaking to the media at Government Buildings. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

Simon Coveney says backstop is the solution to protecting the status quo in Ireland

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: “Dublin cannot blink . . . I will tell the Taoiseach that he must stand firm in the face of British pressure.”  Photograph: John Thys/AFP

In event of no-deal Brexit, arrangements at ports will remain unaltered for nine months

Temple Street Children’s University Hospital. Photograph: Eric Luke

Temple Street head medical social worker calls spike in presentations ‘shameful’

President Michael D. Higgins speaking at the commemoration in the round room at the Mansion House in Dublin of the centenary of the first Dáil. Photograph: Maxwells/PA Wire.

President says 1919 gathering an act of courage that provoked ‘arrogant’ British response

I get the sense  Boris and Co believe the world sees them as boldly striking out on their own, showing those old British qualities of independence, bravery and brio. Actually they look like a crowd of incompetents who can’t make up their minds about anything

The wreckers in the Conservative Party are willing to destroy everything in their path in pursuit of a Brexit with an uncertain ou(...)

Holding out on the backstop risks bringing about the very thing it is designed to avoid: a no-deal and a hard border. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A device that was meant to facilitate progress has instead become a barrier to it

‘It will take time, but Border controls would be the consequence of a no-deal scenario’

Liam Fox admits Britain may not be able to replace any of the EU’s trade deals ahead of March 29th

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: she said   if the Government allowed the backstop to be renegotiated “this Government will not be forgiven”

‘We have no idea, to put it bluntly, what if any money will be available to us in the event of a no-deal Brexit’

Tánaiste Simon Coveney: “All Government departments must give full priority to activating their plans for a no-deal or disorderly Brexit”

Brexit preparations at the Department of Transport are described as ‘all over the place’

Dublin sources expect Theresa  May to survive Wednesday’s confidence vote. Photograph:  Reuters TV

Article 50 process likely to be paused to allow parliament give its view and EU to respond

British prime minister Theresa May surrounded by ministerial colleagues during the Brexit debate and subsequent vote. Photograph: PA

Dublin calls on the UK to outline its next steps after House of Commons rejects deal

Everyone is expecting defeat for Theresa May’s in the Commons Brexit vote. Photograph: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Inside Politics: Theresa May’s authority and credibility likely to be diminished further after Commons defeat

Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton (left) and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Mr Bruton has described climate change as ‘the defining issue of this century’ Photographs: Karen Morgan/Tom Honan

Taoiseach, Minister for Climate Action promise plan to reverse increasing emissions

Pro and anti-Brexit demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament in London before Tuesday’s  vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.  Photograph:  Stefan Rousseau/ PA Wire

Prime minister admits letter from Juncker and Tusk does not address MPs’ concerns

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar insists that ports and airports will be ‘Brexit ready’.

Specific updates on medicines and transport issues will be issued to Ministers

Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton said the Government aimed to deliver a network of charging points for electric cars across the country. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Window to address to climate action rapidly closing, Richard Bruton tells party colleagues

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin is very more cautious about any merger with the SDLP.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Brexit and its associated discontents may put FF off marching northwards

A vacuum created by the lack of authority now characteristic of Theresa  May and Jeremy Corbyn is being filled by coalitions of MPs, who this week demonstrated that the House of Commons  is committed to block a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: UK Parliament/Mark Duffy/PA Wire.

European Commission clarifications unlikely to sway minds of DUP

Intel already has planning permission for a new 90,000sq m facility adjacent to its existing site in Leixlip, Co Kildare

Preparatory work seen as prelude to increasing capacity at Co Kildare plant

Senior Government figures remain adamant  they will not concede to the nurses’ demands, citing the upfront cost and the belief it would spell the end of the public sector pay agreement. Photograph: Getty Images

Psychiatric nurses’ union says it will join wave of strikes by nurses next month

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stands for the national anthem during his official visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Wednesday. Photograph: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri

Taoiseach says weekend strike would have affected far fewer patients

The Department of Public Expenditure has   insisted the health service is able to recruit and retain nurses and midwives

INMO announces six days of work stoppages in January and February over pay issues

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said acceding to the nurses’ pay demands would “take us back to the bad old days of unsustainable and unaffordable pay rises”. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Finance says acceding demands would ‘take us back to the bad old days’

A plaque marking the site of the Soloheadbeg ambush in Co Tipperary. The incident on January 21st, 1919, involved the first shots fired in the War of Independence. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy

President not to attend Soloheadbeg event to mark IRA attack on Royal Irish Constabulary

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May on the BBC’s “The Andrew Marr Show”: said she would work to secure further assurances from EU leaders on the backstop to assuage members of her Conservative Party and the DUP. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/Handout

DUP calls backstop ‘poison’ amid efforts to end Brexit impasse over likely duration

 Minister Finance  Paschal Donohoe: Brexit might actually help him.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Some tough choices are now inevitable

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ambiguously ruled out any possibility of inviting Sinn Féin to form a government with Fine Gael. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

It suited Micheál Martin, and the national interest, to keep Leo Varadkar in power

Minister for Finance Donohoe knows that if he concedes the nurses’ claims, other unions will pile in the door with their own pay demands. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

External threats loom against backdrop of bullish news about exchequer finances

Leo Varadkar: Health and housing are the running public policy sores for the Government.   Photograph: Tom Honan/PA Wire

Some in Fianna Fáil believe the longer Varadkar is in office, the more he will be damaged


Change in circumstances could trigger election next year, says Taoiseach

St James’s Hospital, site of new children’s hospital.  Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Construction costs have risen, now estimated annual operating costs spiral upwards

‘Paschal Donohoe looks around the world and frets about the pressures on centrist politics but at home, his arguments hold increasing sway.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

The State’s continued rejection of radical politics was one of the year’s main trends

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it was unacceptable that social media companies would not take down some of the posts about the eviction in Co Roscommon. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Leo Varadkar calls for social media firms to remove some comments on incident in Falsk

The tax bill relates to the sale by Elan of its interests in multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri in 2013 to Biogen for $3.25bn and also a share of future royalties

Claim relates to a row over the amount of tax paid on the sale of a stake in a major drug

Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: ‘What is certain to me is in order to avoid a hard border you must have alignment on customs and regulations,’ Mr Varadkar said. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

We don’t think a no-deal Brexit is a probability, but it’s a possibility, Leo Varadkar says

 Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said avoiding a hard border after a no-deal exit would be “a very difficult thing to do”. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Government document sets out threat to Ireland in no-deal Brexit scenario

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil  other unions had indicated to the Government that if the nurses’ claim was agreed, they would immediately lodge their related pay claims. File photograph:  Cyril Byrne

Department of Public Expenditure says average pay for nurses is €57,000

Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive Seán  FitzPatrick

Government says creditors to be paid in full from the proceeds of the bank’s liquidation

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn plans to table a motion of no confidence in Thersa May. Photograph: EPA/MARIO CRUZ

Inside Politics: Labour leader’s motion of no confidence threatens to further fray PM’s authority

Minister for Health Simon Harris told the group developing the new hospital it must make every effort to mitigate the increased cost. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Cabinet to review capital budgets in Government departments as hospital costs rise

David McCourt and former minister for education Denis Naughten.  Photograph: Andrew Downes/Xposure

No Cabinet decision until new year in project that has been beset by controversy

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: needs a non-Brexit election. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Micheál Martin has backed extension of Government deal due to fear of a Brexit election

Theresa May took exception to Jean-Claude Juncker’s comments. Their exchange was captured on camera. “You called me nebulous!” she complained

Such was the level of support for the Irish backstop that Juncker wore a green tie

Leo  Varadkar stressed the EU’s wish to help Mrs May, but added: “That is contingent on her understanding that there are limitations.” Photogaph:  John Thys / AFP/Getty Images

We can’t have guarantees and assurances that contradict agreed treaty – Taoiseach

Minister for Health Simon Harris:  to bring a memo to Cabinet next week on new cost estimates for the facility at  St James’s Hospital in Dublin.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Cost estimates for facility at St James’s Hospital spiralling from 2012’s €404m

 European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker  and president of the European Council Donald Tusk at a press conference at the end of first day at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

‘We don’t want the UK to think there can be any form of renegotiation whatsoever,’ says Juncker

European Union leaders at a two-day summit on the Brexit negotiations. Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouws

Long meeting with May reiterates stance of not reopening withdrawal treaty for UK

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker with Britain’s prime minister Theresa May at a European summit aimed at discussing the Brexit deal, the long-term budget and the single market. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

The Irish know what they are talking about when it comes to declarations and clarifications

Micheál  Martin said  the situation has “to a certain extent gone out of control – I mean the British prime minister couldn’t put the vote to parliament, 20 British ministers have resigned, there’s been three Brexit secretaries, there’s been two foreign ministers.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

FF leader says it would be ‘highly reckless and irresponsible’ to have an election now

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrives for a European Summit  in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

Taoiseach outlines option to avoid no-deal outcome and says EU wants to help May

British prime minister Theresa May arrives for a meeting at an EU summit in Brussels. Photograph: AP Photo/Alastair Grant

PM tells European leaders she can get exit deal through parliament with ‘right assurances’

Prime Minister Theresa May walks back to Number 10 after making a statement on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Irish sources say victory for British prime minister could prompt North backstop concessions from EU leaders

British prime minister Theresa May and  European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Photograph: Reuters/Yves Herman

Juncker says there is ‘no room whatsoever’ for renegotiation of the withdrawal treaty

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney 	with students at Loreto Letterkenny: “All Government departments must give full priority to activating their plans for a no-deal or disorderly Brexit.”  Photograph: Julien Behal

Varadkar says Ireland will not make plans public until appropriate to do so

Lisbon treaty posters in Dorset Street, Dublin in 2008: initial objections centred on neutrality. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Nice and Lisbon treaties came with declarations to placate many of Ireland’s concerns

A protest outside the Dáil demanding the right to free and safe legal abortion. Photograph: James Forde

Legislation’s passage could be delayed due to the number of Amendments tabled

A view of a Ukip ‘Brexit Betrayal’ march in London, Britain, on Sunday. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

British PM speaks to Leo Varadkar by phone ahead of vote in the House of Commons

James Menton, chairman of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group, Minister for Health Simon Harris and Dr Rhona Mahony at the site of the new National Maternity Hospital in March 2017. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Healthcare group seeks to allay fears over future of the NMH after protest in Dublin

Paschal Donohoe. Ultimately politicians will give voters what they demand, whether that is wise or not.

Pat Leahy: Public myopia and our political culture are obstacles to economic prudence

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