Andy McSmith's Diary: A shocking glimpse of what it took to win peace

Today being the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland, it seems as good excuse to revive anecdotes about the slightly made Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam, who did so much to make it possible while slowly dying of a malignant brain tumour.

Terence Blacker: Elizabethans we would rather forget about

The first Elizabethans had Shakespeare, we had Harold Pinter; they had Sir Walter Raleigh, we have Fred Goodwin; they had Francis Drake, we have Simon Cowell

Pyjama photo forces Netanyahu into U-turn on Gaza flotilla inquiry

Israel is expected to broaden the powers of an internal inquiry into the botched raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May in the wake of a barrage of claims that its investigation lacks any credibility. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, appeared to cave in to domestic pressure after the committee was mocked in the Israeli media as a whitewash designed to defend the assault on 31 May that resulted in the death of nine Turkish nationals. A photograph of one 93-year-old panellist in his pyjamas looking at documents drew particular derision.

Peter Robinson: You’re on your own now and it’s going to be a difficult journey

There can be no doubt that the formidable Peter and Iris Robinson double act is finished in political terms.

Conference Diary: Do as I say...

"If I'm appointed Justice Secretary in the next Conservative administration I will end Jack Straw's serial selective and cynical trailing of government policy in the media," the shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve pledged yesterday... in a speech selectively trailed by his personal spin doctor the night before it was delivered.

How pride is overcoming prejudice in Belfast

From the school you attend to the team you support – in Belfast, life is still divided along sectarian lines. But not for everyone... On the city's gay scene, Anna Leach discovers how pride is overcoming prejudice

Twelve good folk and true... or Brown's dirty dozen?

The unionists and maverick MPs who swung the vote on 42-day terror detention Labour's way

Bertie Ahern: The teflon Taoiseach who came unstuck

Bertie Ahern was untouched by the sort of scandal that has traditionally dogged Irish politics. But his mysterious financial affairs caught up with him when his secretary was forced into the spotlight. By David McKittrick

Mark Ramprakash: What I've Learnt This Week

1. A trip to Ireland to face a bogey side can bring 15 unusual minutes of fame

David McKittrick: There may soon be only one Unionist party

Paisley's party will probably be the only Unionist show in town, with devolution dependent on its assent
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran