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

 Labour Party leader Alan Kelly: described the coalition plan as uncosted and purely aspirational with no mention of timelines. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Stephen Collins: Smaller parties are right to be sceptical of blank cheque offered in document

The Labour Party and its new leader Alan Kelly are in a quandary in relation to the formation of a new government. File photograph: Eric Luke

Social Democrats and Greens have deliberately ruled themselves out of coalition

Something else that has been highlighted by the emergency is the quality of our health service and the commitment and bravery of the people who work in it. Photograph: Alan Betson

Continuing national solidarity will be needed for economic recovery in wake of Covid-19

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: the fact he and his Ministers have shown great leadership skills over Covid-19 has bought them time but they cannot continue indefinitely.  Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Momentous decisions already made to fight Covid-19 but another coalition partner vital

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  during a visit to the National Virus Reference Laboratory in  Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Level of trust inspired by the Taoiseach on Tuesday night will be needed for what is ahead

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: his announcement of  dramatic measures which will impact on the lives of every citizen has left him and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin with no excuse to engage in any further delay in forming a government. Photograph:  Gareth Chaney/Collins

Greens must decide if they are serious about being in Government

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  in Dublin, before the general election. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Stephen Collins: Sinn Féin’s rallies show the need for other parties to get on with forming government

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. ‘The big winners this time were Sinn Féin, the party most vociferous in its attacks on all aspects of government policy.’ Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

One in three voters bought idea that Ireland is a hellhole in need of radical left policies

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: has shown political grit by refusing to row back on his rejection of Sinn Féin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Some 70% did not vote for hard left - parties must hold nerve at critical juncture

Labour leader Brendan Howlin with party colleagues following his announcement that he would not contest the forthcoming leadership competition. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Labour leader leaves party in better shape than when he took over leadership

Significant differences across the age groups evident on issues

Health, housing and homelessness were by far the most important issues for voters. Only 1 per cent said Brexit was the most important issue for them.

Voters rated housing and health as by far the most important issues by far for them

Data from the Ipsos MRBI exit poll commissioned by the Irish Times, RTÉ and UCD.

Fine Gael won only 15.5% of the votes among the youngest 18-24 age group

At least half the ballot papers cast on Saturday will not be counted beyond the number one. File photograph: Collins

PR-STV, or single transferable vote, is one of most flexible, subtle systems in the world

‘The evasive response of Mary Lou McDonald to questions about the brutal slaying of Paul Quinn put the spotlight on the fundamental reason why Sinn Féin cannot be regarded like any other political party.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Stephen Collins: SF’s strategy shares traits with that of Europe’s far-right parties

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney: must let voters know in no uncertain terms the dangers of a hard Brexit have not gone away. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Health and housing focus may obscure looming threats of Brexit and economics

Seamus Mallon and Charles Haughey during the Fianna Fáil ard fheis in the RDS, Dublin, in November 1995. Photograph: Frank Miller

Former Seanad member fell out with Charles Haughey, had a blazing row with Garret Fitzgerald and felt let down by Bertie Ahern

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: party members could turn on him and back Simon Coveney as leader. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

SF-leaning wing of FF may get rid of Martin, while threats loom for Taoiseach

Election posters for  Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar  and  Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin are seen on a lamppost on Merrion Square in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Stephen Collins: Performance of Greens and Labour will be key to outcome of this election

The bulk of salmon in this country, both smoked and fresh, is imported salmon, which is inferior to the Irish organic product. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Most consumers are unaware the salmon they eat is all farmed, as is sea bass and trout

Phil Hogan: “Dublin, London and Brussels need to be inclusive and careful in addressing the sensitivities of all stakeholders in Northern Ireland.” Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty

Preserving the integrity of the single market remains EU trade commissioner’s top priority

 European commissioner for trade Phil Hogan, at the Merrion Hotel, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

EU commissioner believes British PM will abandon promise not to extend

Salmon farming is a booming industry worldwide but it has actually declined in Ireland over the past decade. Photograph: Getty Images

A staggering level of official incompetence combined with scaremongering has seen Ireland fall far behind Norway and Scotland

A  view of Stormont as cross-party talks to restore the Northern Ireland powersharing government begin, in Belfast. File photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Election proves voters primarily care about getting Northern Ireland working again

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: managed to achieve broad political consensus by framing his 2020 budget on the basis of a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Avoidance of profligacy a fine template for dealing with future corporate tax fall

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Fine Gael won 20.7 per cent of the votes cast in the recent byelections, a drop of one point on its general election performance in the four constituencies. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dramatic increase in support for Greens and significant recovery by Labour

Micheál Martin: He  deserves commendation for not seeking party advantage, which is always the temptation for an opposition leader. Instead he has put the country’s interests first, just as he has done throughout the Brexit saga.  Photograph: Getty Images

Irish nationalism has realised that co-operation rather than conflict is a far better route

The system’s acceptance of insurance fraud is encouraging increased incidents of exaggerated claims and providing ‘an income supplement to the morally challenged’. Photograph: iStock

Utterly disproportionate awards for often trivial injuries have become the norm

Brendan Howlin’s blistering attack on Leo Varadkar at Labour’s party conference was the clearest signal yet that his preference is for a coalition deal with Fianna Fáil after the next election. Photograph: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Party which emerges largest from next election more likely to call shots in coalition

A photograph of a man appearing to read out the latest death threat against the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings. Photograph: Courtesy of the Irish News

Light touch policing has left Cavan-Fermanagh Border in thrall to republican criminals

There are two fundamental obstacles in the way of a united Ireland:  the question of national identity and the question of  how a united Ireland could ever be funded. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

It is essential the Government is clear in rejecting Sinn Féin’s Border poll demand

London street art depicting  British prime minister Boris Johnson and some ministers as the Beatles and Johnson with US president Donald Trump. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga

Bluster made British slow to perceive that EU solidarity bolstered Ireland with power

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and  British prime minister Boris Johnson  during a press conference on the Brexit deal in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: EPA

UK departure saga from EU shows that political compromise a virtue rather than a vice

  Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe:  almost every lobby group and NGO in the country  called for  spending  increases in Budget 2020. Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA

Fine Gael colleagues disappointed over absence of new measures to reduce income tax

British prime minister Boris Johnson’s speech at the Conservative party conference in Manchester was aimed at a British audience not the EU. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Taking emotion out of Brexit proposals, or at least minimising it, will be vital on all sides

 Behind all the passion, principle and political conflict that has brought the UK to its current impasse, there lies some crude political calculations about how the Brexit issue can best be used for political advantage. Photograph: Getty Images

Parnell never reduced Commons to sorry state Tory diehards have dragged it into

A photograph made available by the PSNI shows the scene where an improvised explosive device was discovered during a search operation in the Creggan area of Derry.

Violence in Derry and Border areas a symptom of wider political failure

EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan: Ireland has a far greater interest than any other EU country in a deal that allows trade between the UK and the EU move as freely as possible. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Irishman as trade commissioner has vested interest in easing EU-UK trade

UK prime minister Boris Johnson ‘continues to insist against all the evidence that there is a good chance that leaders attending the next EU summit will agree to abandon the Border backstop and give him a good deal’. Photograph: Julian Simmonds/Getty Images

Expectation that EU will cave in and give Boris Johnson what he wants remains far-fetched

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan “avoids attracting unnecessary attention by foolish publicity stunts or rushing into comment about issues which have nothing to do with his brief”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Justice does a difficult job well and avoids attracting unnecessary attention

British soldiers patrol in Derry on August 15th, 1969, after being deployed to end the Battle of the Bogside. Photograph: Independent News and Media/Getty Images

Then taoiseach’s courage and political skill avoided a disastrous civil war

“The team around Boris Johnson is boasting of his willingness to cling to office even if the House of Commons passes a motion of no confidence in his leadership.” Photograph: Julian Simmonds/Getty Images

Boris Johnson has made it easier for EU leaders to refuse to budge on Brexit deal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the launch on Thursday of the  redevelopment of the former Smithwick’s brewery site in Kilkenny. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Preparing for the worst will mean no tax cuts and tighter departmental budgets

 Prime minister Boris Johnson at  his first cabinet meeting in  Downing Street. The depressing lesson of history is that it is the patriotic hard-line that is always the easy political option even if it has disastrous consequences for the people of the country involved. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Stephen Collins: Doesn’t matter now what Taoiseach or Tánaiste say about the backstop

Farmers protest outside the Dáil in early July when the Mercosur agreement was announced – under it, the EU agreed to accept 99,000 tonnes of South American beef each year. Photograph: Alan Betson

Uninformed decision on free trade bodes badly for serious looming challenges

A feature of the whole Brexit debacle is the way political rhetoric has propelled all of the main actors into adopting positions that are almost certain to have the opposite effect to the one pursued. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Government and Opposition will have to weigh carefully where national interest lies

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels. Photograph: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/Reuters

Irish strategy was to press Barnier’s claims if the opportunity arose

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter: his combative style and intellect didn’t endear him to many fellow Dáil deputies and the legal profession also had it in for him. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Frenzied reporting helped ensure the former minister was wrongly hounded from office

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe ‘is facing the biggest challenge of his political career’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fine Gael’s reputation hinges on taking measures needed to get spending under control

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan TD with local election candidates at the launch of the Green Party’s local election manifesto in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times

Parties coalescing around Fianna Fáil the most likely outcome after general election

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. The party’s local election vote of 5.6 per cent resulted in a  haul of 49 councillors. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Left-wing alliance could have major say in formation of next government

“Sinn Féin may find the backhanded compliment from [Nigel] Farage unwelcome but it is not the first time the two forces have found common ground.” Photographs: EPA/Getty

No surprise Brexit Party using clips of Mary Lou McDonald speeches at rallies

Queen Silvia of Sweden and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Photograph:  Michael Campanella/WireImage/Getty Images

Swedish ambassador said visit aims to cement relationship between the two countries

TDs of all stripes have supported objections to wind turbines in various parts of the country while backing the continued destruction of our bogs. Photograph: Ben Curtis/PA

Dáil’s hypocrisy on climate change will only add to corrosive cynicism about politics

Sinn Féin has campaigned for a No vote in every EU referendum in the history of this State. The party did back Remain in the UK referendum, but that probably had as much to do with the fact that the DUP was on the other side as anything else

Micheál Martin was right to call out Sinn Féin and a number of Independent candidates as being inherently anti-European

State policies to ensure a relatively fair income distribution have undoubtedly helped to create the success story of modern Ireland. File photograph: David Sleator

Much maligned middle classes deserve credit for progressive tax and welfare system

Some judges have indicated their opposition to the prospect of a substantial reduction in the scale of awards being proposed by the Kearns report.

Judges and lawyers are in denial about compensation culture now out of control

The dilemma facing Emmanuel Macron is that a long extension to the UK departure date will provide an opportunity for further subversion. At the very least it will allow the British political system to engage in endless prevarication. Photograph:  Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

Emmanuel Macron fears subversion of EU just as his predecessor Charles de Gaulle did

A pro-Brexit campaigner demonstrates near the House of Commons. About half of the Conservative Party’s MPs would appear to prefer a no-deal Brexit to the softer one that is likely to emerge from the contacts between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Photograph: Getty Images

Deep split in Theresa May’s party now the biggest obstacle to soft Brexit

“Across the continent a variety of anti-EU parties are on their way to winning more than a third of the seats in the new parliament.” Photograph: Jean-Francois Badias/AP Photo

European Parliament already faces increase of populist forces in next assembly

Members of the Brehon Law Society marching in the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Return to antique rhetoric suggests unionists have no right to live on this island

British prime minister Theresa May in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Stephen Collins: Failure to come together at time of national peril reveals rot in UK politics

Former British prime minister Herbert Asquith wrote in 1914: ‘I have rarely felt more hopeless in any practical affair: an impasse with unspeakable consequences upon a matter which to English eyes seems inconceivably small and to Irish eyes immeasurably big. Isn’t it a real tragedy.’ File photograph: Edward Gooch/Getty Images

EU gives Government cover to compromise on Border issue long overlooked in London

Barbed exchanges in the Dáil between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin have become more frequent in recent months. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Experiment in ‘new politics’ has demonstrably failed

Éamon de Valera and members of his cabinet on December 29th,  1937. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Stephen Collins: Irish leader’s 1927 formula offers a way forward for the UK and EU

Minister for Health Simon Harris. ‘The appalled reaction of the public to the attempted intimidation appeared to have a moderating impact on political debate.’ Photograph: Tom Honan

Appalled reaction to protest outside Simon Harris’s home may offer ray of hope

Senator Frances Black, who championed the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Stephen Collins: The legislation is political posturing that will have costly consequences

Anti-Brexit stickers on a woman’s suitcase in London.  Photograph: Toby Melville

Stephen Collins: Government must maintain a cool head to counter Britain’s delusion

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: drew fallacious comparisons between deprivation in 1919 and the problems facing the State today. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Party dismisses concerns about electoral fraud, rights abuses and corruption

British Labour  leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Stephen Collins: The British party’s left-wing has long had a cynical attitude to Ireland

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has shown himself to be a good friend of Ireland throughout the complex Brexit saga. Photograph: Virginia Mayo/AP

May presents Ireland with chance to bolster a union burdened by populism and Brexit

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin following the renewal of the confidence-and-supply arrangement between his party and Fine Gael. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

European model of left versus right politics is currently in meltdown

John Major in Dublin this week. The fundamentally decent side of British democracy was represented when the former British prime minister travelled to Longford to deliver the Albert Reynolds memorial lecture and also spoke in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan

British public opinion helped persuade UK government to grant our independence

Understandable popular resentment at higher fuel prices has been exploited by an unholy alliance of right and left-wing extremists who went on a rampage in Paris and other French cities which left four people dead, hundreds badly injured and millions of euro worth of property destroyed. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA

Protests over fuel price rises in France provide a salutary lesson for political leaders

 Conservative MP and chair of the European Research Group  Jacob Rees-Mogg: hopefully good relations between Ireland and the UK will relegate him to the margins of history. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas

Irish sneering at UK’s nervous breakdown is offensive and counter-productive

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the  Fine Gael ardfheis. Since he  took over as leader the party has opened up a significant lead over Fianna Fáil in a succession of opinion polls.  Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Returning to the tax-cutting agenda does not appear at first to make sense unless there has been a change of public mood since 201(...)

Theresa May, like Michael Collins, was given an impossible negotiating task. Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

UK prime minister must also sell her deal to a divided cabinet and parliament

Former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev with the hammer and sickle symbol behind him. Photograph: Express

Russian president had furious row with Freddie Boland at UN in October 1960

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