“I can confirm that, notwithstanding newspaper reports, that no deal has yet been done between the EU and the UK,” Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on Wednesday.
He was responding to a Dáil question on a report in the British media that a customs deal has been reached between the EU and UK.
The reaction was one of ”hold your horses” in Dublin and Brussels.
As our Political Editor Pat Leahy writes, “unhelpful”, “incorrect”, “premature” – and other, less printable descriptions – was the response from senior officials.
Talks have been going on for months between the two sides as they attempt to agree changes to the way the Northern Ireland protocol operates that overcome unionist objections to the current regime but still satisfy EU requirements to protect the single market.
If the DUP agrees the deal, it is hoped that this would enable the powersharing institutions – currently being boycotted by the DUP and therefore in cold storage – to be revived, restoring self-government to Northern Ireland.
The hope is that this can be achieved in the coming weeks, which would clear the way for the powersharing institutions at Stormont to be up and running again by the time of the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement in early April.
On a side note whether or not the institutions in the North are operational is seen as a “key factor” in determining whether the marking of the anniversary would be a “celebration or a commemoration” according to Department of Foreign Affairs officials in a newly released briefing paper for the new Minister, Tánaiste Micheál Martin.
Both sides in the talks between the EU and UK have said publicly that progress is being made, and relations have improved since British prime minister Rishi Sunak has taken office, but complex matters have yet to be agreed.
And there is no guarantee that the DUP will back any resulting deal.
Leahy outlines some of the remaining issues in his analysis.
Golfers fume about Dublin Airport’s new runway
Spare a thought for the golfers of north county Dublin who can’t get a moment’s peace on the fairways for the noise of rumbling jet engines.
As Mark Hilliard reports golf clubs have complained of intolerable noise and fumes from planes departing Dublin Airport’s controversial new runway, prompting many players to consider abandoning their memberships.
Since its opening last August, the north runway has provoked anger in surrounding communities because of loud engine noise from aircraft flying overhead.
It has become a political issue in the area too with various TDs and councillors raising concern over the impact on residents.
DAA, which runs the airport, has apologised for the situation and said revised standard instrument departures due later this month will alter routes.
Health Editor Paul Cullen reveals the findings of a report that shows how the overlapping ambulance services in Dublin provided by the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade are leaving the public at risk.
A former adviser to ex-health minister Mary Harney weighs in on the controversy over the legal strategy on nursing home charges. Jennifer Bray has the story here.
Jack Horgan-Jones reports that a shortfall of 600 refugee beds has been predicted in the next four weeks.
Meanwhile, Conor Lally reports on how the Garda public order unit was deployed to an anti-immigrant protest in Finglas last night due to fears of violence.
Also, Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik spoke to Hugh Linehan and Pat Leahy on this week’s Inside Politics podcast about her efforts to revive the party’s fortunes since taking over early last year. You can listen here.
Tánaiste Micheál Martin takes questions in the Dáil with his Minister for Defence hat on from 9am.
Minister for Education Norma Foley is next up at 10.30am.
Leaders’ Questions is at noon.
There will be an address to a joint sitting of both Houses of the Oireachtas from European Parliament president Roberta Metsola at 2pm. Europe Correspondent Naomi O’Leary interviewed Metsola ahead of her address.
Government business and Topical Issues start at 3.28pm and 5.28pm respectively.
There will be a debate on the Committee on Autism’s Report on the Summer Programme 2023 from 6.16pm.
The Seanad will consider the Family Courts Bill 2022 at 11.45am.
The Public Accounts Committee will hear from representatives of the Health Service Executive on issues including disability services, emergency care, waiting lists and GP services from 9.30am.
The Committee on Housing is to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of the Marine Protected Areas Bill 2023. Representatives from the Irish Environmental Network and Wind Energy Ireland will offer their views at 9.30am.
Public awareness of living with a disability will be examined by the Committee on Disability Matters, also at 9.30am.
Click the links for the full Dáil, Seanad and Committee schedules. To ensure you continue to receive Inside Politics, add the email address you receive the newsletter from to your safe senders list.