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

Seán Lemass and Éamon de Valera: There were serious doubts whether Ireland would be judged economically fit for EEC membership.   Photograph: Paddy Whelan

In reversal of Brexit scenario, State concern was Irish exclusion but UK acceptance in EEC

John F Kennedy’s 1963 visit to Ireland

Letter shows the US president was invited to Ireland soon after his inauguration

Otto Skorzeny: bought a farm in Co Kildare in 1959 and wanted to become a permanent resident here

Papers reveal exchanges between officials and ministers divided over Nazi Otto Skorzeny

Conor Cruise O’Brien in May 1968, when he was editor-in-chief of the ‘Observer’ newspaper. Photograph: Evening Standard/Getty Images

Disastrous intervention in Congo led to former special representative being disowned and criticised

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald:  her “extreme, uncompromising and bullying” manner is useless in Brexit negotiations, says Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Delicate compromise not bullying is key to securing agreement on UK withdrawal

Peter Casey ‘showed during and after the election that he doesn’t know the first thing about politics’. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Stephen Collins: Political maverick is likely to be forgotten quickly but lessons must be learned

In the RTÉ/Red C poll Peter Casey easily outscored the other presidential election candidates on “the ability to stand up for ordinary people”. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Late surge in support tapped into segment of Irish electorate prepared to rebel regularly

Theresa May’s crab-like movement towards a deal represents the best chance of a benign outcome. Her fall would trigger  chaos in British politics and make the prospect of a no-deal Brexit even more likely. Photograph: EPA

Stephen Collins: Taoiseach’s taunting is hindering May’s chances of getting a good deal

The question became why Fitzgerald, as minister for justice, had not intervened to try and stop this non-existent aggressive stance towards Sgt Maurice McCabe.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Once the opposition and media set off down a false trail her resignation was inevitable

Eamon Ryan insisted the Irish people are ready, willing and able to do their bit on climate change, and he could well be right. Picture Nick Bradshaw

Stephen Collins: Government puts self-interest over national interest on carbon tax

Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan: on the night of the bank guarantee the  options were grim. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Main political parties have paid a high price for doing the right thing

“A majority of RIC men were Catholics like their fellow countrymen and they probably had the same range of political opinions.”

No formal acknowledgement of sacrifice made by RIC and DMP men

While the mood music from Brussels in recent weeks has been good, it is still too early to say whether Theresa May will get the EU to agree to a deal based on the Chequers proposals. Photograph:   Frank Augstein/Pool via Reuters

Stephen Collins: Both sides are reluctant to accept assurances without precise legal backing

Far from demonstrating the poverty of rural Ireland, the decline in the use of post offices in villages and small towns reflects the fact that so many people living in the countryside are affluent enough to travel to big urban centres or modern supermarkets on the outskirts of towns to do their shopping. File photograph:  Colin Keegan/Collins

Painting changes in lifestyle as rural neglect could lead to wrong policy decisions

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe launching  Ireland’s Corporate Tax Roadmap at Government Buildings yesterday. The brutal political reality facing Leo Varadkar is that once the budget is out of the way, he will continue in office for only as long as the Opposition decides. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Stephen Collins: Taoiseach knows he is vulnerable once the budget is passed

The response of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris to the eruption of the CervicalCheck controversy has been coloured by Michael Noonan’s fate during the Hepatitis C scandal.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Opportunistic politicians, the media and medical negligence solicitors putting scheme at risk

President Michael D Higgins acknowledges the crowd at Croke Park last weekend. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Stephen Collins: President must balance decorum of office against campaigning

Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Everything is at stake for FG and FF leaders as confidence-and-supply nears its end

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar knows how to remain calm when all about him are consumed by the heat of political battle. File photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Stephen Collins: Ireland needs to remain calm while preparing for the worst

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British prime minister Theresa May on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels last month. Photograph: Yves Herman/AP

Varadkar will face strong pressure if he has to compromise on border backstop

New Garda Commissioner Drew Harris: Maybe what Sinn Féin fears is that he knows too much about the IRA and its crimes. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Many who aspire to united Ireland raced to undermine new Garda Commissioner

Romanian president Klaus Iohannis:  One of the big stumbling blocks to tourism development is the poor infrastructure. Roads are like those in Ireland before EU money. Photograph: Jacek Turczyk

Romania needs EU investment to develop tourism and its natural resources

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall walk on Derrynane beach in Co Kerry during their visit to the  Republic. Photograph:  Niall Carson/Getty Images

Prince Charles’s visit comes as Brexit creates rift between Irish and British governments

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May: The crucial thing about her  agreement with Tory moderates this week is that a hard Brexit no longer appears to be a live option.  Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Squaring Border circle remains one of the most intractable elements of negotiations

 Britain’s prime minister Theresa May has managed to steer the UK on a trajectory that will keep it as close as possible to the EU in terms of trade and regulation while holding her party together. Photograph: EPA/Neil Hall

Prime minister could be playing waiting game comparable with Jack Lynch during arms crisis

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: While he was criticised by some Yes campaigners for not adopting a more aggressive approach, the end result proves he has his finger on the pulse of middle Ireland. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Abortion result strengthens Taoiseach’s hand before coming general election

Anti-abortion demonstrators outside Leinster House in 1983. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

The abortion issue has convulsed the country repeatedly since the 1983 referendum

  Minister for Transport Shane Ross: the Judicial Appointments Bill which lays down a new system for appointing judges is his brainchild and was included in the programme for government at his insistence. Photograph: Alan Betson

Alignment with SF on judicial appointments to placate Shane Ross threatens democracy

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris: seeking re-establishment of an independent board to run the Health Service Executive. Abolished by James Reilly in  2011, it contained formidable experts.  Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

State healthcare decisions must be on basis of facts not political advantage or emotion

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath has questioned the basis of Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe’s budget calculations. Photograph: Alan Betson

Politicians struggle to resist temptation of repeating past mistakes despite crash

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator: there is danger the tough line of support for Ireland could leave us badly off if the Brexit talks go wrong. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Government’s EU-backed approach to date correct but not without risk of chaos

Decision time: whether or not the Taoiseach calls an election in a month’s time could define his entire political career. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Stephen Collins: Waiting for his opponents to pull the election trigger looks too risky

 French president Emmanuel Macron: In the era of Brexit and Trump, his election represented an alternative, much more benign vision of the future. Photograph: Patrick Seeger

Important that French president be backed as a bastion of decency and moderation

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (right) and Tánaiste Simon Coveney “have fuelled suspicion and paranoia in the North and the rest of the UK by raising . . . the question of a united Ireland”. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Davis wrong on Sinn Féin influence but Fine Gael must focus on pragmatic Brexit results

Former US president Bill Clinton called on Northern politicians to follow the example of their predecessors and make compromises to allow the power-sharing institutions to be restored. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Belfast Agreement 20 years on: Bill Clinton warns ‘paralysis’ cannot go on indefinitely without endangering agreement

  Bertie Ahern  and  Tony Blair after agreeing  the  peace deal for the North in  1998. Photograph:  PA

Former taoiseach says governments must work hard to bring North’s parties together

 The storms in March threw up  mounds of plastic bottles and other plastic debris  around Dublin Bay. Photograph:   Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Objections from drinks companies and supermarkets should not prevent reform

Tánaiste Simon Coveney: If he doesn’t trust his colleagues in the Dáil not to introduce an even more liberal abortion regime than they are currently committed to, why should the public trust them?

Politicians and journalists have managed to undermine people’s confidence in their integrity

“‘Ireland can count on us – and that isn’t based on any other conditions,’ German chancellor Angela Merkel said after meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and it would be hard to devise a more unambiguous message of support.” Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Trying to use Border to block progress on wider issues would have risked own goal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at a Belfast Agreement 20th-anniversary event held at the Library of Congress in Washington, on Wednesday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Taoiseach and Ministers have not taken enough account of how approach is perceived in North

President Michael D Higgins: refusal to acknowledge contribution of those who sought to achieve independence by peaceful, constitutional methods casts doubt on his ability to represent the different strands of Irishness commemorated in the Decade of Centenaries. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Refusal casts doubt on ability to represent different strands of Irishness

The destructive forces who promoted Brexit in the first place are digging in for a fight. Foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who lied his way through the referendum campaign, is at it again

There is now a better chance than a few months ago that advocates of a soft Brexit will prevail

Since Leo Varadkar took over as Taoiseach from Enda Kenny last May he has taken a more assertive nationalist line in public than his predecessor. And that line is clearly paying off with the public. Photograph: Alan Betson

Real surprise is how closely aligned Government has become with SF

Road sign in front of Parliament Buildings at Stormont: political parties must have a concept of the common good as well as their own self-interest. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne

Stephen Collins: State’s early years avoided tyranny but Sinn Féin stance may pose threat

‘The lopsided development of the country is down to the political cowardice of successive governments who have pandered to the notion of protecting rural Ireland.’ Photograph: Barry Cronin

Stephen Collins: National development plan must not be derailed by political cowardice

Phil Hogan: “Phase one of the talks was like the National League, but the Championship is just about to start. That will be the decider.” Photograph: Getty Images

EU agriculture commissioner says really tough Brexit negotiations have yet to come

Jacob Rees-Mogg: he  and his allies are piling on the pressure to ensure that no mutually acceptable deal between the UK and the EU can be concluded

Like the Ditchers of 100 years ago, right-wing Conservatives are prepared to put the UK’s interests at risk

Mary Lou McDonald: she will have to adopt a more subtle approach if she wants to fulfil her ambition of leading Sinn Féin into government in the Republic for the first time

If party can do deal with DUP it can realistically aspire to be in government in Republic

Leo Varadkar: In his handling of abortion he has shown a political subtlety that has enabled him to keep control of the agenda and avoid serious divisions in Fine Gael. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Taoiseach had clear idea from beginning where he wanted to go on abortion

 Peter Sutherland’s final public role was as adviser to the pope and the UN  general secretary promoting a generous and open approach to migrants.  Photograph: Magali Girardin/EPA

Most profound impact was role he played in creation today’s global economy

Fianna Fáil Rory O’Hanlon, Progressive Democrat TD Geraldine Kennedy and Paddy O’Hanlon, founding member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, at an SDLP conference in Newcastle, Co Down, in  1987. Photograph: Jack McManus

‘It is important we press to have questions disallowed wherever possible,’ official advised

Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey waves to supporters outside Leinster House after his election as taoiseach in 1987. Photograph: Jack Mc Manus

State Papers 1987: Then taoiseach jokingly asked for loan of ‘£2bn or so’ from British PM

Economist and campaigner Raymond Crotty: his Supreme Court case to prevent the government signing the Single European Act led to the landmark decision that the treaty must be put to the Irish people by way of a referendum. Photographer: Jack McManus

Files reveal taoiseach spoke to French president the day after Supreme Court decision

Garret FitzGerald to Margaret Thatcher: “I very much hope our paths will cross again.” Photograph: Photocall

Garret FitzGerald and Charles Haughey both wrote warm letters to the British PM

 New minister for finance Ray MacSharry unveiling his budget on March 31st, 1987

Dukes puts the Fine Gael position on a more formal footing with the ‘Tallaght strategy’

British soldiers at a look-out post near Crossmaglen, south Armagh, in November 1987. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

State papers from 1987 reveal proposal to erect a physical border along the 500km frontier

Taoiseach Charles Haughey at 10 Downing Street, London, with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1980. Photograph: Keystone/Getty Images

Transcript of 1987 meeting provides insight into how taoiseach dealt with prime minister

The  scene following the Enniskillen bomb blast in Co Fermanagh in November 1987  which claimed the lives of 11 people.  Photograph: PA

New books on John Hume a valuable counterweight to false republican narrative

Immediately after the leadership contest was called, a raft of senior Ministers came out backing Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Alan Betson

News review: Irish politics avoids election, but new taoiseach and tánaiste bed in

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