Evening top 5: Main parties avoiding election talk; Coveney rejects backstop time limit; Huge lead for Higgins

The top stories this evening on Newstalk

Varadkar and Martin aiming to avoid election with Brexit in the balance

The Taoiseach has assured Fianna Fáil that his party wants to avoid any General Election while Brexit remains in the balance.

It comes after the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin wrote to Leo Varadkar calling for a public agreement that neither side would topple the Government before the terms of the UKs withdrawal from the EU are agreed.

This evening a spokesperson for the Mr Varadkar confirmed that Fine Gael is keen to avoid an election at such a delicate time for the negotiations.

He said securing a legal guarantee within the UKs Withdrawal Agreement that there can be no return to a hard border remains the Government’s overriding priority.

DUP does not speak for Northern Ireland on Brexit - Coveney

The Tánaiste has moved to remind the public that the Democratic Unionist Party does not speak for Northern Ireland.

In an interview with Sky News this evening, Simon Coveney, noted that there was an “imbalance” being created in commentary around the DUP’s “blood red lines” on Brexit.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has warned that her party will not accept any deal that sees new regulatory differences between Northern Ireland and Britain.

Minister Coveney said he remains confident a deal can be secured – and noted that the DUP only "represents a minority of people in Northern Ireland."

Harris calls for apology from opposition for demanding Fitzgerald's "head on a plate"

The Minister for Health has demanded an apology from the leaders of Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil for ‘hounding’ Frances Fitzgerald out of office.

The then-Justice Minister resigned her position last November to avoid “an unwelcome and potentially destabilising general election” while Brexit talks were entering a critical phase.

It followed weeks of recriminations in the Dáil with opposition parties insisting her position had become untenable.

She handed in her notice hours before a vote of no confidence that was set to see both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil vote against her – thus bringing down the Government.

Facebook announces details of personal information exposed in major data breach

Social media giant Facebook has announced details of the personal information relating to millions of users that was exposed by a data breach in recent weeks.

In a blog post, the company said it has been “working around the clock” to investigate the security issue uncovered two weeks ago.

It said it has now established that 30 million users were had their personal data exposed – 20 million fewer than originally thought.

Guy Rosen, vice president or product management at the company said the attackers were able to access different levels of data for different groups among the exposed accounts.

Poll shows Michael D Higgins with substantial lead ahead of Presidential election

70% of people are backing Michael D Higgins for re-election as President, according to a new opinion poll.

The Paddy Power / Red C survey of a thousand people was conducted between October 3rd and 10th.

President Higgins is leading on 70% of first preference votes, followed by Seán Gallagher on 14%.

The poll shows Senator Joan Freeman on 6% and businessman Gavin Duffy on 4%.