Arts and Entertainment

A light-hearted play about Christianity written almost 20 years ago is at the centre of an “astonishing” censorship row after performances were cancelled by councillors in Northern Ireland who deemed it “blasphemous”.

Ireland beaten by Scotland at Murrayfield

Scotland struck late through Joe Ansbro to launch their build-up to the World Cup with an uninspiring win over Ireland at Murrayfield.

Kidney expects 'shadow' Ireland team to give all

Declan Kidney has told his team not to keep anything in reserve in the World Cup warm-up match against Scotland at Murrayfield today. "When you play a Test match, there's no holding back," Ireland's head coach said. "You either go for it or you don't. If you operate at 80 or 90 per cent, you increase your chances of picking up a knock."

David Prosser: We can still win our money back on the black horse bank

Outlook If the Government was forced to "mark to market" its positions on Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland – the accounting requirement that regulators have imposed upon the banks when it comes to their own assets – the public finances would currently be in the region of £25bn less healthy. The taxpayer paid around £45bn for its stakes in Lloyds and RBS – 41 per cent and 83 per cent respectively – but the holdings combined are worth just £20bn today.

Lloyds sees profits plunge

Part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group today insisted that its EU-imposed sale of 632 branches was on track as it unveiled a huge loss in the first half of the year.

Before World Cup odyssey, a few home truths on pitch

Warm-up games will hold lots of clues for hopes in New Zealand

Britain at greatest risk of terrorism

Britain is now at greater risk from terrorist attacks than any other Western nation, according to research.

All change for Ireland as Poundland sets up shop

It's the one place on the high street where you never have to ask: "How much does this cost?" Whether it's a pregnancy test, a pair of reading glasses, a dozen batteries, a camping knife or a bottle of bleach, everything in Poundland will set you back just that – a pound.

90th anniversary of Shackleton’s final expedition

This year marks the 90th anniversary of Ernest Shackleton’s final voyage to Antarctica. The Irish explorer was a key figure in the Heroic Age of Polar exploration, and his death in 1921 marked the end of this period of discovery.

Poundland to expand into eurozone

Bargain chain Poundland is to expand into the eurozone after today announcing plans for a number of new stores, starting in debt-ridden Ireland.

Dyson delighted to clean up in Ireland

England's Simon Dyson completed a month to remember by winning the Irish Open in Killarney yesterday. The 33-year-old from York took the first prize of over £221,000, a fortnight after finishing ninth in The Open – an event he went into as fifth reserve less than a week before it started.

Sebastian Barry: Troubles in the family

The Booker-longlisted author Sebastian Barry tells Leyla Sanai how his own ancestors' bloody history inspires his novels about Ireland's violent past

McIlroy and McDowell left to fly Irish flag after Clarke misses cut

There will be no Darren Clarke or Padraig Harrington for the huge crowds to cheer on in the final two rounds of the Irish Open here, but Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell plan to fill the void.

On Canaan's Side, By Sebastian Barry

At the close of this novel Lilly Bere, an 89-year-old Irish-American, sits alone in her little house on Long Island after the suicide of her soldier grandson, Bill. He has come back, traumatised, from the first Gulf War. Lilly thinks back to a Dublin childhood. Her family then – two sisters, brother and policeman father - feel closer than the growling storms of the Hamptons shore outside. "There is never a day goes by that we don't drink a strange cup of tea together, in some peculiar parlour-room at the back of my mind."

Breast cancer screening has not cut death rate, says study

Breast cancer screening has had little impact on falling death rates from the disease, new research indicates.

Scandal of abuse at Irish tycoons' care homes

Inspectors left 'appalled' by substandard conditions
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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

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

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
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

The 12 ways of Christmas

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...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick