The political week in 5 points

Taoiseach Enda Kenny revealed Pope Francis will visit Ireland in August 2018, with deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness claiming he will cross the border. The Vatican is yet to confirm the visit. In a press release, the DUP confirmed First Minister Arlene Foster would meet the Pope as he visited as head of state.

DUP MLA Trevor Clarke admitted he did not know heterosexual people could contract HIV until a charity, Positive Life, outlined the facts to him. Mr Clarke proposed a motion at the Assembly to “promote awareness and prevention” of HIV and for increased support for the work of Positive Life. Speaking to The Belfast Telegraph ahead of playing a concert here, Sir Elton John said the comments came as “no surprise”.

The Liberal Democrats defeated ex-Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith in a by-election, overturning the incumbent’s majority of 23,015 in the Richmond Park constituency. Mr Goldsmith resigned from the Tories and as an MP after the government backed plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport, but the Lib Dems switched the focus of the campaign to Brexit. Party leader Tim Farron said the Lib Dems are “back in the big time”.

Following a motion passed by members of the party’s Dublin Central constituency branch, Fianna Fáil is to invite former leader and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to re-join the party. Mr Ahern resigned from the party in 2012 after a report into alleged planning corruption.

On Sunday, Italians went to the polls to vote on a referendum on plans to reform the country’s constitution including to streamline parliament. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is campaigning for a Yes vote, and has said he will resign if he loses. Populist parties have joined forces to campaign for a No vote. Elsewhere in Europe, in a re-run of last month’s Austrian presidential election the independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen, a former leader of the Green Party, defeated the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer.

About Connor Daly

Connor is Editor of Northern Slant. His interests include politics, human rights, current affairs and communications.