Taoiseach Micheál Martin delivered a compelling argument in the Dáil during the week about why it was time to bring the long-running controversy over the maternity hospital to a close. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Stephen Collins: Coherent messaging from Coalition is vital as it faces hard decisions

 Boris  Johnson’s willingness to break his word is hardly a great surprise, given his political and personal record. Photograph: Oli Scarff  WPA Pool/Getty Images

Consequences for UK and Ireland of setting aside of entire Brexit trade deal will be profound

There are currently 39 Dáil constituencies and the Constitution provides that there must be at least one TD for every 20,000-30,000 of the population.

State’s excessive number of TDs may contribute to clientelist nature of politics

Emmanuel Macron addresses voters in front of the Eiffel Tower after beating Marine Le Pen for a second five-year term as president of France. Photograph: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Nebulous concept of neutrality could be challenged by any expansion of EU defence

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Negative voices perversely allowed to dominate discourse in Irish public life

Protesters outside the Russian embassy in Dublin with signs and Ukrainian flags following the news that four senior officials at the embassy had been asked to leave the State. Photograph: Damien Storan/PA Wire

Embassy in Dublin houses sophisticated spy network that threatens our security


Government merits praise for crises-era decisions and must be unapologetic


Despite common front over Ukraine crisis, UK and EU still poles apart on NI protocol

France’s president Emmanuel Macron greets Taoiseach Micheál Martin at the Palace of Versailles, prior to the EU leaders summit to discuss the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty

Government must lead discussion on neutrality in an open and frank manner

Mary Lou McDonald: her  attempt to erase the record of Sinn Féin’s long-time support for Putin by suddenly adopting a pro-Ukraine pose should be treated as the opportunistic move it is.   Photograph: Getty Images

Party’s attempt to jump on the bandwagon of popular revulsion is a cynical manoeuvre

Taoiseach Micheál Martin meets people attending a demonstration outside Leinster House in Dublin to protest at the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Stephen Collins: The sheer hypocrisy of Nato’s Irish critics is stunning

What is not justified, and will certainly be counter-productive, is a system of blanket payments to everybody, regardless of income as typified by the €200 subsidy to all households for rising energy costs. Photograph: iStock

State handouts to compensate everybody for inflation is akin to pouring petrol on flames

 Phil Hogan: Former EU trade commissioner’s removal from a key role in Brussels was a national own goal. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Government needs to develop backbone to block opponents and media baying for blood

British prime minister Boris Johnson may have something to learn from Haughey when it comes to managing conflicting aspirations and surviving what look like impossible odds. Photograph: Peter Byrne/WPA Pool/Getty

Despite many flaws, British PM may be around far longer than his critics suspect

‘Sinn Féin’s policies across a range of areas are clearly hostile to the younger generation and pander instead to the interests of well-off older people.’ File photograph: Getty

Despite its appeal to the young, many of its policies benefit older property owners

Since the day a century ago when Michael Collins and his colleagues took over the reins of power this State has never strayed from the democratic path. File photograph: Getty

We in the Republic need to remember the past without allowing it to poison the present

A camera lens focuses on the door of 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, as Boris Johnson faces calls to resign. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

The prime minister’s fate now lies in the hands of senior civil servant Sue Gray

UK prime minister Boris Johnson listens to Liz Truss as they take part in a panel event, March 2020. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/WPA Pool/Getty

Liz Truss, a leading contender to replace Johnson, may well seek confrontation

Loyalists protesting against the Northern Ireland protocol. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty

Most people in Republic remain blithely indifferent to the British identity of unionists

Despite the evidence of Ireland’s transformation into a wealthy and tolerant society, it seems  a lot of people would prefer to wallow in the self-pitying notion that we remain “the most distressful country that ever yet was seen”. Photograph: Getty Images

Deep hostility to acknowledging as a society we have done well in recent decades

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly has  made a determined effort to articulate a distinctive image as a social democratic alternative to the governing coalition and the nationalist aims of Sinn Féin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Voters tired of Coalition but who do not see Sinn Féin as viable option may look to Labour

Some 80 per cent of voters are not prepared to run the risk of electricity blackouts which are a real possibility if all carbon-based sources of electricity generation are banned.

Ambitious and worthy carbon targets will not be met without national agreement

Boris Johnson has stepped back from his widely reported intention of triggering article 16 as the first step towards outright repudiation of the NI protocol. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor Handout

No knowing what the UK prime minister will do next after his erratic behaviour to date

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald speaking during the party’s ardfheis. Photograph: Damien Storan/PA Wire

Party looks likely to win most seats, but government formation is rarely that simple

Flamanville pressurised water nuclear reactor in northwest France. Photograph: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty

Environmentalists must move away from dogmatic stance against nuclear power

President Michael D Higgins has made ‘ethical remembering’ a theme of a series of events organised by his office to reflect on events of the past. File photograph: The Irish Times

President’s decision on partition event has breathed new life into a narrow nationalism

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: The benefits of the wave of investment since the 1990s cannot be underestimated, even if they are taken for granted by most people. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

It is a foundation stone of Ireland’s rise from one of the poorest countries in Europe

Olaf Scholz about to cast his ballot at a polling station  during general elections in Germany last weekend. Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Germans have realised strength of centrist politics as we are on verge of abandoning it

Mervyn Taylor with his wife, Marilyn Taylor, after she won the Bisto Book of the Year award 1999/2000 for her children’s book Faraway Home. Photograph: Alan Betson

Divorce referendum was probably the high point of Labour minister’s political career

Michael D Higgins:  the immediate  question for the Government is how it should respond to the President’s decision. Photograph: Maxwells/PA Wire

Principle of consent forgotten in furore over President's refusal to attend Armagh service

Alan Kelly: the  Labour Party’s stance in the confidence motion    looked even sillier in light of the fact that Ivana Bacik was one of the guests at the infamous Zappone event in the Merrion Hotel. Photograph: Alan Betson

Stephen Collins: Both parties missed chance to differentiate themselves from Sinn Féin

The storm around Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and his heir apparent Simon Coveney over their handling of the Katherine Zappone appointment has drained attention from matters of State. File photograph: The Irish Times

While political and fiscal problems loom, our elected repesentatives are distracted

Cllr Mícheál MacDonncha’s behaviour raises disturbing questions about how Sinn Féin in government would handle the Garda. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Stephen Collins: MacDonncha stance on dead gardaí event speaks volumes

The Americans resisted British pressure to extend the timeframe for US withdrawal from Kabul airport. Photograph: Getty

We have a seat on the security council but Kabul exit shows we can’t look after our own

Micheál Martin now looks far more comfortable in the role of Taoiseach than he did this time last year. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Taoiseach had successful year in office particularly in relation to handling of Covid-19

File image of Des O’Malley at a PD conference in Co Clare. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

On the day of his funeral a reminder of O’Malley’s defence of democratic institutions

Des O’Malley: ‘There is a choice of a kind that can only be answered by saying that I stand by the Republic.’ File photograph: The Irish Times

One-time party loyalist and then PD leader obliged FF to shelve ‘core value’: no coalition

 Newly-elected Labour TD Ivana Bacik  in the Dáil. Dublin Bay South was the right opportunity at the right time and she took it. She should have a safe seat there at the next election. Photograph:  PA

Instead of chasing SF populism, Labour needs to articulate vision for Republic

One intriguing feature of The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI Dublin Bay South constituency  poll was that it showed Sinn Féin winning far few transfers than other leading candidates. File photograph: PA

Voters cannot transfer to another candidate of the same party, so where will they go?

Economists and housing policy experts may differ on the best solutions to the current problem but all are agreed on one thing: an increase in supply is critical. Photograph: Paulo Nunes dos Santos

Two-faced Sinn Féin calls for construction while blocking building projects

The long-term impact of Covid on society cannot be ignored. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Locking down our society indefinitely to protect the fearful is not an option

Leo Varadkar: the timing of his speech to the Fine Gael Ardfheis expressing his desire for a united Ireland was as mystifying as it was reckless. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA

All Tánaiste has done is stoke fears and give Johnson another excuse to break his word

US president Joe Biden and UK prime minister Boris Johnson at a hotel near near St Ives in England on Thursday, ahead of the G7 summit. Photograph: Toby Melville/Getty Images

UK prime minister ready to use every available trick to wriggle out of international deal

The cyberattack on our health system is a wake-up call that we live in a dangerous world and cannot afford to be without allies. File photograph: The Irish Times

Polls show majority of voters in favour of closer EU defence and security arrangements

A Garda speaks with a passenger at a checkpoint at the departure gates in Terminal 1 at  Dublin Airport on Monday. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Semi-totalitarian powers justified as emergency response have now been normalised

Taoiseach Micheál Martin arrives at the EU Social Summit in Porto, Portugal on May 7th. Photograph: Jose Coelho/Pool/EPA

The Irish public’s support for the EU should not be taken for granted, but reinforced

Leo Varadkar: failure to win the Dublin Bay South byelection could have serious implications for his leadership of Fine Gael. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

High stakes for all the major political parties in Fine Gael heartland constituency

Queen Elizabeth shakes hands with then Northern Ireland deputy first minister Martin McGuinness watched by then first minister Peter Robinson (centre) at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Photograph:  Pacemaker Press/ PA

British monarch’s contribution to peace process has been undermined by Brexit

Mary Lou McDonald: The Abú database apparently cross-references facts from the electoral register with information about voters gleaned from Facebook. Sinn Féin is being investigated for potential breaches of data law. Photograph: Alan Betson

Sinn Féin remains IRA mouthpiece and is untroubled by its ‘sinister’ database

La Defense in Paris: “There are good grounds for believing that the EU’s slow and steady pace may enable it to draw level with the UK and the US.”

Stephen Collins: Member states emerging from Covid crisis more bonded than US and UK

The future of the Coalition depends on getting the vaccine rollout back on track so  the promised easing of restrictions next month can take place as scheduled. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Stephen Collins: tricky tax and spending decisions loom

‘If history is any precedent all talk of a united Ireland by politicians in the Republic should be taken with a large dose of salt.’ Photograph: Presseye

Demand for an early vote is further encouragement to those bent on creating mayhem

Ursula von der Leyen:  let annoyance cloud her judgement and  proposed a course of action that would have done more harm than good in the long term to the people and institutions she is mandated to protect. Photographer: Martin Bertrand/Pool/Bloomberg

Ireland right to oppose vaccine export ban promoted by European Commission president

The biggest and most obvious challenge to the Government is how it deals with the Covid pandemic and the related issue of the vaccine rollout. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Guillaume/Getty Images

Coalition also facing internal pressures which could have destabilising impact

The  Commission has unanimously agreed to support Rusbridger’s continued membership. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Episode could undermine Future of the Media Commission and its likely recommendations

British prime minister Boris Johnson: Doubts are growing again whether the EU can trust a government led by him to honour treaty obligations. Photograph: Scott Heppell/PA

Latest breach of trust by British government over protocol has potential to destroy trade deal with EU

Taoiseach Micheál Martin addresses the nation at Government Buildings on Tuesday. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

Stephen Collins: Response to Covid strategy is starting to strain Government relations

European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen has taken a pasting from politicians and media. Photograph: EPA/ARIS OIKONOMOU/Pool

Attacks on EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen are short-sighted

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

One of the big lessons of recent history is that SF devours those who do business with it

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen: Her  protocol screw-up indicates Irish concerns can be pushed to one side when the struggle between great powers becomes intense. Photograph:  Kenzo Tribouillard

Pragmatics of NI protocol forced to top of political agenda in Brussels and London

People returning from holidays abroad displaying no embarrassment at breaking travel guidelines has caused considerable anger. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Mistakes made and costs incurred but HSE has outperformed NHS

Joe Biden’s  plea to American politicians to “stop the shouting and lower the temperature” could well be applied to Dáil Éireann where aggressive grandstanding by Opposition TDs like Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and Richard Boyd Barrett have become the norm.  Photograph:  Getty Images

Trump playbook has taken firm root in Irish politics and his values look set to prevail here

‘The future of the Coalition hinges on how well it handles the rollout of the Covid vaccine in the coming months.’ File photograph: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg

Stephen Collins: Coalition needs to prove it has a plan for final phase of Covid-19 battle

 President Higgins and his wife Sabina at Áras an Uachtaráin:  his recent address  urging an inclusive approach to commemoration was a vitally important contribution to public life. Photograph: Maxwells Dublin

Nationalist Ireland must choose between two competing visions of the future

Whether or not there is a trade deal the consequences of Brexit will be serious for Ireland but going on our ability to make our way in the world in recent decades we need not be too apprehensive about the future. Photograph: Aaron Chown/Getty Images

Brexit saga shows Ireland can play a part in grown up world of international politics

Warrenpoint in August 1979 when 18 British soldiers were killed in an IRA ambush. The republican narrative claims such violence was not only justified, but succeeds activities of an earlier era. File photograph: Pacemaker

There is an increasingly one-sided presentation of the struggle for independence

US president-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address in Wilmington, Delaware. Photograph: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty

US president-elect has done a great service by beating Trump and will be firm on Brexit

Dr TK Whitaker: A conversation between him and Albert Borschette, the Luxembourg permanent representative to the EEC, is revealed in the latest volume of Irish foreign policy papers from October 1961 to April 1965.   Photograph: Tom Lawlor

RIA historic documents: Monnet questioned if Ireland could face demands of free trade

The remains of Roger Casement were exhumed and returned to Dublin  in 1965.

Irish diplomat gave account of London dig after ‘49 years in a waterlogged grave’

Micheál Martin:  courageous leadership will be needed from the Taoiseach and his Ministers for any post-lockdown strategy. Photograph: Getty Images

Experts engaging in PR campaign to keep strict lockdown in place for December

Séamus Woulfe: ‘Did nothing involving impropriety such as would justify calls for his resignation from office.’   Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Judiciary that protested political interference in the Polish judicial system now requires political intervention to rid themselve(...)

Blueshirts: Eoin O’Duffy inspects a guard of honour in 1933. Photograph: Keystone/Gamma via Getty

Claiming continuity with Michael Collins helps Fine Gael forget its troubling origins

‘Trump’s attempt to pre-empt the outcome and then to cast doubts on the legitimacy of the process has created an appalling vista for the US.’ Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg

Stephen Collins: Trump’s threat to electoral process has implications for entire world

The future of the UK fishing industry depends on a deal even if that reality is taking time to sink in. File photograph: Getty

If fishing symbolises emotional appeal of Brexit, it also exposes the contradictions

People in Grafton Street in Dublin during the first day of the Level 5 restrictions in the city.  The shutting down of almost all retail business, apart from supermarkets, will have a devastating impact on employment and mental health, even though there is little evidence that shopping is a major spreader of Covid-19. Photograph: Damien Eagers/PA

Government badly needs to find alternative strategy to lockdowns

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. The striking thing about their spending plans was that they went far beyond a range of measures designed to protect people from the fallout from Covid-19. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Coalition must show its actions are based on fairness and the budget is a good start

Coalition leaders Eamon Ryan, Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Having said no to Nphet once, it will be easier to do so next time the need arises

Minister for Education Norma Foley: Coalition must work together to resolve the Leaving Cert problem, as greater Covid and Brexit challenges wait around the corner. Photograph: PA

If Government weathers Leaving Cert error storm, this could be turning point

Lorries at Dover due to industrial action in Calais: Until very recently, there appeared to be a naive expectation that Irish lorries would be able to skip Brexit-created queues. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

Stephen Collins: Amid Brexit, Irish trucks need extra ferries to transit goods to and from continent

Micheál Martin: the Government is struggling to deal with two contradictory imperatives. One is to protect public health and the other is to avoid economic disaster. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Major improvement in Irish test and tracing system remains a priority

Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson: His adoption of Trumpian disruptive negotiating tactics has already backfired by undermining the prospects of a transatlantic trade deal. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau

Micheál Martin’s measured tone will win support in Brussels and Washington

Frances Fitzgerald: It would be some irony if the last prominent victim of a political witch hunt was to take over the vacancy that has arisen from the latest excursion into self-destructive behaviour by the Irish political system. Photograph: Eric Luke

Stephen Collins: Indecision on new EU commissioner stems from basic miscalculation

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar should have been able to take a broader perspective but instead he led the chorus demanding that Phil Hogan should go.  Photograph: Fran Veale

Government casts more doubt on ability to lead amid Covid-19 and Brexit challenges

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: The lesson this week for the Government is  potential problems and inconsistencies need to be ironed out in advance of Cabinet meetings. Photograph:  Julien Behal/PA

Social cohesion needed to tackle Covid-19 so Coalition must be exemplar of unity

John Hume was the inspiration behind the Sunningdale Agreement, the Anglo-Irish Agreement  and the Belfast Agreement.

Politician had self-belief to repeat same message for decades until eventually it was accepted by almost everybody

New Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill. Coalition TDs should follow her example and take on the Opposition in a robust fashion. Photograph: Tom Honan

The way it caved in on relatively minor issues like stopping the PUP and ministerial pay does not augur well

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and French president Emmanuel Macron at the EU summit in Brussels. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq/AP

The State has left Hanseatic League allies high and dry on bloc’s Covid-19 response

Taoiseach Micheál Martin arrives at Stormont Castle in Belfast on Thursday to meet Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP

Fianna Fáil leader must take advantage of the Apple tax decision to reboot as Taoiseach

Micheál Martin: will have a difficult enough job contending with the political fallout from the daily grind of events.  Photograph: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

New Government has an opportunity to build on trust public has shown over recent months

The behaviour of mourners at the Storey funeral was simply another demonstration by republicans of their belief that they are above the law. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Episode should alert the wider electorate to what a vote for the party means

The Daniel O’Connell statue on O’Connell Street, Dublin. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

Stephen Collins: Ireland can take pride in its statue of towering anti-slavery figure

Micheál Martin:  will finally achieve his ambition of becoming taoiseach but at a time when his party Fianna Fáil is sinking in the polls.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Coalition’s ability to govern effectively will depend on high level of trust between party leaders

Green Party  leader Eamon Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin at a press conference last February. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Trust and discipline key to capacity of next government for decisive action

Social Media

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael not at the races in online war of words

Leo Varadkar: has made a number of comments indicating that he would like to speed up the current plan for a return to normality. Photograph: Photocall Ireland/PA

Stephen Collins: State will be plunged into worst of all worlds if action is not taken

 Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters: Of their case, Mr Justice Charles Meenan said: “Unsubstantiated opinions, speeches, empty rhetoric and a bogus historical parallel are not a substitute for facts.”  Photograph: Alan Betson

Covid-19 corrals Irish politics and journalism towards science and solutions

Paschal Donohoe: brought a reality check to the talks on government formation by laying out some very pertinent  facts. Photograph: Ireland/PA Wire

Politicians need to be frank about scale of the economic crisis ahead

 There have been suggestions that Eamon Ryan and Catherine Martin are playing a “good cop, bad cop” routine to extract maximum concessions from the two bigger parties. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Whatever is agreed between negotiating teams will have to be ratified by party members

Party leaders Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar have shown a greater degree of realism in their response to Green leader Eamon Ryan’s 17 key demands for opening coalition talks. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

It would be a positive development if the Greens decide to enter government

Éamon de Valera: it is often forgotten that he failed to win an overall majority on three occasions. Photograph: Colman Doyle

Some of the State’s most successful administrations have been propped up by Independents

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