Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: he must contend with a stronger opponent as the clock ticks towards byelections that will mean the end of his flimsy Dáil majority. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach must regain initiative as he tackles Brexit, public pay, and end of Government

Sources say the report contains a detailed roadmap for removing private patients from public hospitals. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Publication of report on implementing the Sláintecare plan has been shelved until autumn

Transition to a better designed and more efficient health service will take time and effort, patience and political will

Inside Politics: Latest revelations feed into erosion of Fine Gael claim to fiscal responsibility

The writs for the polls needed to fill the vacancies created by the election of TDs Frances Fitzgerald, Billy Kelleher, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly to the European Parliament must be moved by January 2nd. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Voting to fill vacancies left by TDs elected to Europe may be moved forward

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who warns it would be a ‘terrible political miscalculation’ for anyone in London to think they will automatically get a better Brexit deal after Westminster’s failure to ratify the withdrawal agreement. File photograph: John Thys/Reuters

Expert report expresses North’s concerns over impact of EU tariffs on food exports to Republic

Prof Seamus Coffey, chair of the Fiscal Advisory Council: not the most popular person around Government Buildings these days.  Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Government rattled by criticism of reckless spending, but shouldn’t shoot the messenger

Rockall: there is a serious dispute, and there is a possibility of flashpoints on the high seas. Photograph: Irish Naval Service

UK has always claimed sovereignty over islet, but claim is disputed by Ireland

There are fears in Government that a soon to be announced package of pay improvements for the Defence Forces will not meet the expectations. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Proposed package arising from pay commission report to go to Cabinet in near future

Rockall, the tiny disputed island some 400km off the Co Donegal coast.

Scotland believes fishing by Irish boats within a 22km zone around Rockall illegal

Scottish fisheries minister Fergus Ewing has said his government’s fisheries patrols would “invite” Irish fishing boats to “cease and desist” from what he said was “illegal” fishing around Rockall.

Fergus Ewing says patrols will invite vessels to ‘cease and desist’ from ‘illegal’ fishing

Taoiseach  Leo Varadkar: The disconnect in the public mind between Fine Gael’s economic performance and the Government’s management of it is the missing link.  Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP

Voters do not believe Varadkar’s party is central to continued economic recovery

File photograph of Irish Naval Vessel L.É. Róisín on a routine maritime security operations patrol off Rockall. Photograph:Defence Forces

Scottish minister in letter to Government says that it will deploy vessels to protect rights

 Lynn Boylan  (right) with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald during the Dublin  count at the RDS following  the European elections.  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Lynn Boylan urges party discussion on question of entering government

US troops at Shannon Airport call home shortly after arriving in 2006. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Ross permitted more than 1,000 military overflights and landings in 2018

US troops at Shannon Airport in 2006. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Some 25 flights carrying explosives from US to Afghanistan went through State since 2014

Gabriel Makhlouf is facing an inquiry during his final weeks as a senior official in the New Zealand finance ministry. Photograph: Bloomberg.

Gabriel Makhlouf facing an inquiry during last weeks in New Zealand finance ministry

Gabriel Makhlouf ‘believes that at all times he acted in good faith’. Photograph: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg via Getty

Gabriel Makhlouf accused of misleading New Zealand authorities

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Frances Fitzgerald and Alan Farrell at  a Dublin count centre. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

A snap election is now unlikely, and other things we learnt from the votes

Fianna Fáil’s  Barry Andrews speaking to media during the European count in the RDS, Dublin. Photograph: Collins

Ireland’s two extra MEPs will have to wait until Britain leaves EU

 Labour Party leader  Jeremy Corbyn is welcomed to  Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin by  President Michael D Higgins.

UK opposition leader earlier met President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin

Fine Gael MEP candidate Sean Kelly has been elected and Independents4Change candidate Mick Wallace is almost certainly home. Photograph: Michelle Devane/PA Wire

Inside Politics: Angela Kerins wins her case in the Supreme Court against the PAC

Angela Kerins was the subject of an in-depth inquiry by the PAC in 2014 about the finances of Rehab, including her own remuneration. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Working group to report in autumn in wake of Supreme Court ruling

Jeremy Corbyn visits Ictu. Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Labour leader says change of commission could open up possibilities for new deal

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe conceded that the cost of the broadband plan would affect the Government’s net fiscal position in the future. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Paschal Donohoe says any cheaper option would not bring plan to all rural households

Manfred Weber: Irish sources suggest French president Emmanuel Macron’s opposition will block his attempt to become the next European Commission president. Photograph: Robert Ghement/EPA

‘The process is just beginning tonight. Nobody will get any job this evening’

Green Party candidate Ciarán Cuffe topped the poll in  the Dublin European constituency. Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The Green Party can improve on European and local election results

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier: set for Government’s support in part because he has “done right by Ireland” during the Brexit negotiations. Photograph: Costas Baltas

EU leaders to meet in Brussels to discuss who should fill key EU roles

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Farmleigh House during her visit to Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

SNP takes three of six EU seats, as leader says Brexit could hasten independence

 A number of  newly elected Green Party councillors from the Dublin local authorities with party leader Eamon Ryan. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Fianna Fáil will strengthen its position as the largest party of local government

 Hazel Chu, Green Party candidate for Pembroke with her mother Stella Choi,and her daughter Alex at the Dublin count centre in the RDS Dublin.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Climate change is of clear concern and Fianna Fáil should feel encouraged by results

Eamon Ryan at the local and European election count in the RDS, Dublin. Photograph:  Collins

Taoiseach says FG under-performed against expectations in local elections

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: there is “no need for an election” if the Government can continue to get its agenda through the Oireachtas. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Green leader Eamon Ryan to work with all parties on climate-friendly goals and policies

Sinn Féin leader  Mary Lou McDonald at the count centre in the RDS. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Some hard thinking and hard choices await Mary Lou McDonald

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan speaks to the media as  counting begins in the Local and European Elections and divorce referendum at the RDS in Dublin. Photograph: PA

Analysis: FG and FF have been spinning furiously but there’s no spinning out of this

Sorting votes at the Dublin count centre for European election at the RDS. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Varadkar refuses to rule out early general election while Green wave sweeps through locals

The ballot boxes will be opened at 9am on Saturday but results of the local and European elections may not be known until early next week. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Keep up to speed with our ultimate guide to the European, local and referendum votes

In an advertisement in the Mayo News, Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring is depicted driving a truck whose cargo is Fine Gael local election candidates and bags of money.

Pressure on Government to make unwise budgetary decisions will be unrelenting

Green Party candidate Ciarán Cuffe canvasses for the European elections on Baggot Street Bridge, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Unprecedented backing puts Greens in line to secure seats in all European constituencies

Tánaiste Simon Coveney (right) said the EU position on Brexit would not change with a new prime minister, suggesting that the stated aim of Boris Johnson (left), to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement would put him on a collision course with the EU. File photograph: Jack Taylor/AFP/Getty Images.

Officials believe a new PM determined to deliver no-deal exit would be difficult to stop

A dog named Lucky waits for its owner to cast their vote in the polling station on Inishbofin on Thursday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Polls opened at 7am for local and European elections and divorce referendum

Presiding officer Carmel McBride and Garda Adrian McGettigan carry a ballot box from the polling station on the island of Inishbofin, Co Donegal. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Big parties seeking to manage expectations of their results as turnout expected to be low

Most officials and political sources in Dublin expect Boris Johnson to win any Tory leadership race if Theresa May stands aside. Photograph: Gareth Harmer/National Lottery Community Fund/PA Wire.

Mood darkening in Dublin with Johnson considered likely to succeed May

It has emerged that the costs of the National Broadband Plan will stay on the State balance sheet

Sinn Féin TD accuses Government of ‘giving with one hand and taking with the other’

The full cost of the National Broadband Plan will be included on the State’s balance sheet. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Government accused of ‘privatising profits and socialising costs’ of public infrastructure

‘Grace’ was sent to a foster home in the southeast when she was a child and remained there for 20 years, despite concerns being raised on a number of occasions about her welfare. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Investigation into foster care of intellectually disabled woman granted second extension

Weekend polls brought mixed news for all parties and candidates. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Inside Politics: Cabinet will discuss Brexit in Dublin today as Theresa May presents new plan in Westminster

Over the weekend, Catholic bishops said the referendum’s objective ‘is not to support marriage, rather to liberalise divorce’. File photograph: Getty

Analysis for 2000-2017 reveals county comes out top from national total of almost 4,000

To apply for a divorce, couples must be living apart for four of the five previous years and the upcoming referendum will ask voters if they wish to remove this condition or keep it in the constitution. Photograph: iStock

Dublin previously had highest rate of divorce applications in country from 2010 to 2014

The Dublin MEP seat – pursued by Ciarán Cuffe of the Green Party – will be a litmus test of the extent to which voters are concerned about climate change and the environment. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

As Friday looms, party gears shift to extreme pragmatism. And low turnout is inevitable

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will stress need for Irish businesses to obtain customs numbers to continue trading with the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  Photograph: David Young

Pessimism rises Euro elections may topple May and lead to hardline Brexiteer as PM

 Forensic officers inspect the remains of the van used in a car bomb outside Derry Court House on January 20th last. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

Minister for Justice to seek extension of Special Powers Acts at today’s meeting

 The results of the upcoming elections will reverberate across the political landscape, potentially changing the course of politics and certainly leaving none of the parties unaffected. Photograph: Getty Images

There are precedents of results in local and European elections signalling a transformation in Irish politics

Seamus Mallon: In the event of unity a separate Northern government may have to be maintained in an Irish confederation to take account of unionist concerns.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Vote could deliver ‘unworkable majority for unity’, says former NI deputy first minister

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  and senior Ministers have for months been talking privately about the decline in support for Fine Gael in rural Ireland. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Analysis: Party aims to reverse dip in polls by showing concern for rural communities

The Aontú political party is ‘operating on fresh air’ but is already making a place for itself in Irish politics, its founder Peadar Tóibín TD has said. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Ex-SF TD criticises former party for asking London to legislate on abortion

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar:  ‘We appreciate and understand that the beef price is very low and the cost of production is now exceeding the price that farmers can get from the factories.’ Photograph: Collins

Package worth €100m agreed for Irish beef farmers ‘hammered’ by Brexit uncertainty

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking to reporters at  Inspirefest  in Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin. Photograph:  Collins

US president set to use Doonbeg as base during European trip

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week at press conference on broadband plan. Photograph: Tom Honan

With two weeks to elections timing of major spend in rural Ireland good for Fine Gael

Photograph: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will join the New Zealand PM, President Macron and several other world leaders, as well as representatives of major technology companies, to formally adopt the Christchurch Call to Action. Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

Gathering in Paris for declaration to act against terrorist and violent extremist content

The Government will be ‘riding shotgun’ on the National Broadband Plan to ensure that costs are controlled, the Minister for Communications Richard Bruton has told an Oireachtas committee. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

Bruton insists final €3bn State investment as cheap as could be given project’s scale

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton: ‘The State’s risk is absolutely capped. I think this is a good deal from the point of view of the taxpayer.’ File photograph: Tom Honan

Granahan McCourt consortium says it will invest initial €220m in rural project

The Public Service Pay Commission is likely to propose increases in military service allowances for Army personnel  and to patrol duty allowances for Naval Service members, sources said. Photograph: Alan Betson

Top-ups to take-home income likely to be made in form of increased allowances

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton at the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in the Druids Glen Hotel, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

FF to press Ministers on whether the decision on contract with private firm is reversible

Cllr Duncan Smith (left) Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin and Cllr Dermot Lacey during the launch of The Labour Party’s manifesto for the local elections in Buswells Hotel, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Breakdown of latest Irish Times poll numbers indicates growing support for both parties in Dublin

 After a brief Icarian period in late 2017 and early last year, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has definitively fallen to Earth. Photograph: Tom Honan

Only party for whom Irish Times poll news is universally bad is Sinn Féin

If approved, the referendum will amend the Constitution to remove the requirement that couples must be living apart for four of the previous five years before they can be granted a divorce.

Seventy-seven per cent of poll respondents said they would vote Yes in referendum

Satisfaction with Leo Varadkar has fallen by seven points to 36%, the lowest level since he became Taoiseach in 2017.

Gap in backing for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil smallest in 2½ years while Sinn Féin also slips

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: will find Micheál Martin throwing the children’s hospital, broadband and unchecked budget overruns elsewhere at him. Photograph: Francois Lenoir

Broadband rollout is latest extravagant project unveiled ahead of next election

The poll figures for Midlands North West

The poll figures suggest a ferocious dogfight for the last two seats in the Dublin constituency

In Dublin, Fine Gael’s Frances Fitzgerald is on course to top the poll at 22%, followed by Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews on 18%.

Fianna Fáil to mount challenge to elect MEPs in Dublin, South and Midlands North West

A storm of criticism greeted the Government’s National Broadband Plan on Wednesday as official documents revealed the extent of objections to the project by senior civil servants. File photograph: Getty

Private entity to own network at end of 25-year contract despite €3bn State investment

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform memo lists a series of  projects that could be cancelled or delayed to pay for the broadband plan

Cabinet approved plan despite huge opposition from officials

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: broadband project was the equivalent of rural electrification. Photograph: iStock.

Inside Politics: Government approves decision to award preferred bidder status to consortium led by US businessman David McCourt

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar   has announced a preferred bidder for the largest single contract in the history of the State on “a very significant day for our country”.  Photograph: Tom Honan

‘We must pay the price of progress now or stay trapped in the past forever,’ says Varadkar

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton says the bidder expects to get to 80 per cent take-up after five years. Some sources say this is   unrealistic. Photograph:  Michael Smith/Getty

Most inaccessible and most expensive to reach rural homes least likely to use service

The decision was  made after a lengthy cabinet discussion today. File photograph: Getty Images

The value of the contract has been capped at just under €3 billion

National Broadband Ireland, the company that has been  named preferred bidder for the contract, will not be permitted to refuse to connect any home, no matter how remote. File photograph: Karl Hussey/Fennell Photography

Q&A: Value of initiative to bring coverage to 100% of homes has been hotly contested

Senior sources say it will be necessary for the two largest parties to demonstrate they want to make a revived Stormont work. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Sources express hope rather than optimism about breakthrough in coming weeks

Denis Naughten, then minister for communications, announcing details of the National Broadband Plan in 2017. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Government bracing for criticism after estimated cost rose from €500m to €3bn

The Government says it will  legislate for a time limit of two years. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

‘Any referendum can be a difficult endeavour’

In a public campaign to sell the broadband scheme Ministers will compare it to rural electrification. File photograph: Getty Images

Department of Public Expenditure unable to confirm if Paschal Donohoe backs its advice

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe:  has scheduled a series of bilateral meetings with Ministers in an attempt to rein in expenditure and hold departments to their budgets.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Government estimates measure would cost more than €600 million

DUP leader Arlene Foster at Co Tyrone count centre on Saturday. A deal to relaunch the powersharing institutions in 2018 was abandoned when she faced a party revolt on meeting the Sinn Féin demands. Photograph: Cate McCurry/PA Wire

Dublin and London hope the ongoing deadlock can be resolved over next three weeks

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking after a special Cabinet meeting at Cork City Hall  last week. On Saturday he acknowledged his error over the “deeply disturbing” mortuary controversy. Photograph: Michelle Devane/PA Wire

Some Fine Gael sources are privately alarmed by the Taoiseach’s handling of the affair

The current Dáil has about 20 members of small parties or Independents that would, I think, be members of the same broad centre-left party in most countries

A parliamentary bloc of 20-25 social democratic TDs would be at the centre of a bidding war between Martin and Varadkar, and could(...)

Lobbying for higher pay for nurses: Phil Ní Sheaghdha, general secretary of the INMO with nurses Catherine Sheridan, (left) and Eilish Fitzgerald,  at INMO meeting in February. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Analysis: Election-minded politicians are people pleasers – and it’s alarming civil servants

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: he is to hold special bilateral meetings with Ministers running big spending departments in an attempt to rein in expenditure

Alarm in Government after Ministers make spending commitments in health, education

Alliance Party’s leader Naomi Long – and European candidate – named  most popular politician in the North in a recent poll: Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

As Brexit chaos continues North’s politicians pitch to be MEPs in unexpected contest

Peter Casey: The runner-up in the presidential election is standing here as an Independent candidate. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Fine Gael’s Mairéad McGuinness and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan both likely to be returned

Gabriel Makhlouf is a former top UK civil servant.

A number of domestic candidates had sought position

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and DUP leader Arlene Foster:  One of the reasons Sinn Féin  wants ‘a win’ on the Irish language issue  is because it’s so hard for the DUP to swallow.  Photograph:  Brian Lawless/ PA Wire

The party has a trinity of demands it now refers to as the ‘equality agenda’

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan and Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald:  The party believes the British government should legislate at Westminster for abortion, same-sex marriage and an Irish language act for the North if the DUP refuses to agree. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Mary Lou McDonald calls for ‘plan B’ in case talks to restore powersharing fail

Brian Crowley in Cork where he announced that he would not be standing for re-election as MEP. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Winner of fifth seat has to wait until after Brexit before entering EU parliament

In most European countries, several of the Dublin constituency candidates would be in the same party. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Dublin candidate elected fourth will have to wait until UK exits EU to take Brussels seat

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker says UK’s membership of the EU was based on ‘business, not values’. Photograph: EPA

European Commission president says UK’s membership based on ‘business, not values’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: his choice of time for a general election may be this June or February  2020. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Potential June vote looms as Euros gauge public attitude and UK’s future unfolds

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe says he has received a ‘lot of different views’ on the €3 billion National Broadband Plan that is set to be announced in the coming weeks. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

US has been lobbying allies to ban Huawei equipment from telecoms infrastructure

Fianna Fáil TD, Timmy Dooley: “The tender process  the State put in place to identify a bidder that would provide a service and value for money for the State has absolutely failed.” Photograph: iStock

Government plans to go ahead with € 3bn broadband plan despite cost warnings

Ministers and senior officials fear the costs the broadband plan – originally €500 million but now expected to require €3 billion from taxpayers – would explode into a public and political controversy.

Rollout to proceed despite fears of public outrage at price increase

Ireland has some of the most effective laws for limiting campaign expenditure in the western world, according to a senior Fianna Fáil figure. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Posters are an important part of our electoral and democratic process, says Kinsella

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