Minister Brennan praises groups that provide emotional and practical support

More than 70,000 people each year receive marriage, child and bereavement counselling from state supported voluntary groups, according to Minister for Social Affairs, Seamus Brennan. He was speaking at the launch of the Family Support Agency's Strategic Plan 2007-2009, which examines the expansion of services for families and communities. By Tom Rowe.

Government unfit for office, opposition unfit to take over

The abject state of Irish politics rarely has been as vivid as in the last week (leading up to 18 January). Fine Gael is still reeling from a ludicrous internal spat regarding what may happen after the election and it will reel even more from the feebleness of its leader on the number of candidates running in constituencies (running too many candidates guarantees the party will fail to take seats it otherwise would win). Labour is in disarray over the issue of possible coalition with Fianna Fáil after the election.

Facilitating McDowell

Michael McDowell continues to repeat assertions that have no basis in fact and rarely is he challenged. In yet another facilitatory interview (this time in the Sunday Tribune, 7 January) Michael McDowell made several controversial, unchallenged claims. By Vincent Browne

Arts council decision 'extraordinary'

Andy Hinds, director of Classic Stage Ireland (CSI), has described a decision by the Arts Council not to fund a CSI production as “extraordinary” and “unacceptable”. CSI applied to the Arts Council for two grants in 2006. The first application was a grant to commission playright Tom Kilroy to do further work on his new play, Christ Deliver Us, a version of the 1890s German classic Spring Awakening by Wedekind. The second application was for part-funding of €90,000 to produce the play in four Dublin theatres in May 2007.

More embarrassment for Fine Gael

The candidature of Mairead McGuinness in Louth and, more particularly, a secret lavish fund-raising function in Dublin's Four Seasons Hotel are likely to cause further embarrassment to Fine Gael and Enda Kenny. By Frank Connolly and Vincent Browne

Stop facilitating Iraq killing

The decision of the American President, George Bush, to intensify the war in Iraq and, thereby, to consign yet further tens of thousands of Iraqis to slaughter and many more to misery, forces decisions on Ireland. In particular, it raises the issue of the continued use of Shannon airport as a facilitation for the American forces' operations in Iraq.

2007: Reasons for pessimism

The next year is likely to be important for Ireland. Two elections take place that will decide much about our politics and possibly our society on both parts of the island for a while.

Nothing learnt from the Haughey revelations

Just after 9am on the morning of Wednesday, 20 December, just 20 hours after the publication of the Moriarty report, which presented the most disturbing insight into the inner workings of Irish politics that we have seen since the state was founded, a newsreader on RTÉ's 2FM said breezily that the Moriarty tribunal report story was over – that day's story was the opening of the Port Tunnel. The 9am RTÉ Radio One news that day did not even mention the report.