Arts and Entertainment Roddy Doyle and Roy Keane as 'The Commitments' author Doyle has signed a deal to work with Keane to write the footballer's autobiography

Roddy Doyle, author of "The Commitments", has signed a deal to work with Roy Keane on the controversial ex-footballer’s latest autobiography.

Spotlight turns on headhunters

Recruitment consultants are the kingmakers of the business world – largely hidden hands who pluck here and place there. Post financial crisis, they find themselves in some awkward situations. Richard Northedge reports

Irish bank shares soar despite economic woe

But opposition angry over bad loans scheme

Ireland pays £48bn to rescue five banks from toxic debts

Five High street banks in Ireland are to be paid £48bn by a state agency to cover their toxic debts in the biggest financial rescue in the country's history. Bonds issued by the National Assets Management Agency (Nama) will provide the struggling banks with £7bn more than the current £41bn value of their toxic debts.

GMAC – Woolies' lender – puts UK book up for sale

GMAC Commercial Finance, the lender that helped to pull the plug on Woolworths when it collapsed last year, is quitting the British market as GMAC Financial Services, its parent company, looks to sell off its lending book.

ATM restriction hits poorest

Some four million of Britain's most vulnerable people have effectively been shut out of the ATM network by the Government, it has emerged.

Market Report: Lloyds support comes from an unlikely ally

It was a rare chance for bosses at Lloyds Banking Group to break out the champers yesterday after analysts made a rare "buy" recommendation on the stock. Surprisingly the support came from RBS, perhaps signalling the part-nationalised banks are keen to stick together in these troubled times. Ian Smillie, analyst at RBS, said Lloyds offers a "compelling restructuring opportunity" and more than doubled his price target from 60p to 150p. "Margin expansion, cost control and normalising bad debts are key to a rise in return on funded assets to 1.1 per cent," he added. Lloyds rose 2 per cent to close at 98.72p.

ING drops fund for investors in infrastructure

Ambitious scheme launched last year fails to attract sufficient critical mass in volatile market

Allied Irish sees an end to the pain but reports big losses

Allied Irish Bank plunged into the red yesterday thanks to soaring bad loans and its home market's stricken economy.

Wealth Check: How do I make the most of my mortgage cuts?

A marketing consultant wants to take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates but isn't sure which way to turn. Harriet Meyer has some suggestions

Mortgage lenders snub government scheme

Just six banks have signed up to the government's mortgage relief plan, it emerged yesterday, as Barclays, HSBC, Santander and Nationwide refused to back the scheme designed to support homeowners who have lost their jobs.

Celtic tiger relegated to Europe's financial second division

The strains within the eurozone seem set to grow as Ireland had its credit rating downgraded by Standard & Poor's yesterday. It is the fourth member of the single currency group to be thus treated in recent months.

Celtic Tiger tamed as economy collapses

The Celtic Tiger's unwelcome status as among the European economies hardest hit by the global downturn was confirmed yesterday with the publication of exceptionally depressed data on the Irish economy.

Now for something completely different... John Cleese and Jumping Jack on our notes

Quantitative easing no longer means literally printing cash; 97 per cent of the money in circulation is neither coins nor notes. But the Bank of England keeps a list of faces to feature just in case it needs to produce new notes.

Gang escapes with £6m after family’s ‘tiger kidnap’ ordeal

Employee forced to hand over bags of cash from Bank of Ireland in Dublin

Millions stolen in Ireland 'tiger kidnapping'

Police say a Bank of Ireland employee has stolen millions of euros from his own branch after a gang took his family hostage and threatened to kill them unless he cooperated.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

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Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

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Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

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The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

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We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
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From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

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A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

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