2012: A look back at the year

So 2012 is almost over. The Daily Shift’s Roisin Peddle takes a look at the year that was… 

Barack and Michelle Obama: The most retweeted picture in history

Barack and Michelle Obama: The most retweeted picture in history

So 2012 was not the year the world ended, unless something dramatic happens in the next day and a half. This came as a disappointment to many believers in an ancient Mayan prophecy, which stated the world would end on December 21.

Still, 2012 had its fair share of thrills and spills. Sporting wise, it was a disappointing year for Irish soccer, with the less said about Euro 2012 the better. Galway hearts were broken (eventually) by Kilkenny in the All-Ireland hurling final, and Jimmy won matches for Donegal. However, the sporting summer was dominated by the London 2012 Olympics. Even the most curmudgeonly could not resist the charm and wonder of the magnificent opening ceremony, and after last year’s riots, the UK’s capital rehabilitated its image. For Ireland, Katie Taylor’s gold medal was the real highlight of 2012.

Across the Atlantic, there were tense times for Democrats and Republicans as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney battled for the White House. Despite Obama’s poor performance in the opening debate, the result on election night was never in doubt. The picture of Barack Obama hugging his wife Michelle, with the simple caption “Four more years” became the most retweeted tweet in history.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Obama, however. The US faced a battering from Superstorm Sandy, and more recently, vicious snowstorms lashed a large part of the country. Gun control is firmly on the agenda in the US. The shocking shootings of cinemagoers in Aurora in the summer was compounded by the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School earlier this month. Obama must also save the US from tumbling down a “fiscal cliff” which could put the world in recession yet again.

Katie Taylor wins at the 2012 Olympics (via Wikimedia Commons)

Katie Taylor wins at the 2012 Olympics (via Wikimedia Commons)

Was 2012 the year that things started to look up for the Irish economy? There was some cautious optimism, as some retailers said it was their best Christmas in several years. But personal debt, unemployment and emigration is still high, and the Eurozone threatens crisis at any moment. Celtic Tiger chickens came home to roost for former billionaire businessman Sean Quinn, who was jailed for contempt of court in the ongoing Quinn v Anglo saga.

Politically, the Coalition began to show cracks. The antics of Health Minister James Reilly, who found himself in Stubbs’ Gazette as well as in trouble for locating primary care centres in his constituency, proved too much for Roisin Shortall, who resigned her post as Junior Health Minister in September. The hairshirt budget proved controversial as well, with Labour Party Chairman Colm Keaveney voting against the social welfare bill.

It was Labour’s 100th birthday this year and they took over the NUI Galway campus to celebrate it. This drew protesters from far and wide, not least students, who accused the party of reneging on their election promise not to raise college fees. In Fine Gael, Environment Minister Phil Hogan lurched from one controversy to another, and Enda Kenny found himself on the cover of Playboy- er, I mean, Time magazine.

A decade of centenaries began this year with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking in April. A flotilla of documentaries, books and TV dramas ensued and James Cameron’s 1997 epic hit the big screen again, this time in 3D.

This happened in 2012 (via geekosystem)

This happened in 2012 (via geekosystem)

James Bond marked his fiftieth anniversary with the fantastic Skyfall, and Peter Jackson’s Hobbit made a three-hour unexpected journey. In the land of celebrity, The X-Factor began its decline, and Rihanna and Chris Brown were on and off more times than a light switch.

Shadows from the past re-emerged as hundreds of allegations of child sex abuse against the late BBC DJ Jimmy Savile surfaced. The BBC painted itself in a horrendous light as it was revealed that many of the allegations were hushed up and ignored by station chiefs, and a planned Newsnight special on the issue was scrapped. The BBC then went onto repeat untrue allegations against a former Tory minister, Lord McAlpine. The UK media’s annus horribilis was crowned by the Leveson Inquiry, which found that hacking and other immoral practices were rife in the industry.

Lord McAlpine has threatened to sue those who tweeted allegations against him, a case which may have huge ramifications for internet users. It was the year where the dark side of social media became apparent. Four young girls’ deaths by suicide shocked the nation. Erin Gallagher (13) from Donegal took her own life following cyberbullying, as did 15-year-old Ciara Pugsley from Leitrim and 12-year-old Lara Burns-Gibbs from Kildare. Erin Gallagher’s sister Shannon (15) took her own life this month. Internet abuse was also thought to be a factor in the death of junior Government minister, Shane McEntee (56) just before Christmas. An investigation into the role of social media in Irish society is underway.

A prank phone call by two Australian DJs led to the suicide of a nurse at a hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for severe morning sickness. The viral nature of the call has led to questions about how far things can go for a laugh in the internet age.

It was also a monumental year for the rights of women across the globe. Rape and sexual assault became focus of international attention, with the shocking and fatal gang rape of a young Indian woman leading to protests against sexual violence on the streets of New Delhi. Meanwhile, leading conservatives in America argued about whether women could “shut down their bodies” while being raped, thereby preventing pregnancies. Mitt Romney tried to prove his feminist credentials with his “binders of women”.

It was back to the old days in Ireland. Despite the X-Case verdict 20 years ago, abortion has not been legislated for. The horrific death of Savita Halappanavar brought the abortion issue to the fore again. It promises to be one of the most divisive tests of the Coalition in 2013.

The Michaela McAreavey murder trial in Mauritius descended into distasteful farce, and her killer has not yet been brought to justice. The murders of Irishwomen Nicola Furlong and Jill Meagher abroad shocked the country.

This year we lost Larry Hagman, and presumably the revived Dallas, writer Maeve Binchy, Kerry GAA legend Páidi Ó’Sé, disco queen Donna Summer, Bee Gee Robin Gibb, promising Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence, Monkee Davy Jones, crooner Andy Williams, actor David Kelly, superstar hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, Cosmo pioneer Helen Gurley Brown, journalist Mary Raftery, writer Con Houlihan, man on the moon Neil Armstrong and diva Whitney Houston.

It wasn’t all bad news in 2012. Felix Baumgartner jumped from space, a monkey wandered around Ikea in a wonderful sheepskin jacket, and it was the year of Nidge and Darren in Love/Hate. We lol’d at memes, shouted “Ah here, leave it out!” at every opportunity and danced Gagnam-style.

Good luck ’12, roll on ’13. Or do I mean 131 and 132?

*Lead image via Twitter

So 2012 is almost over. The Daily Shift’s Roisin Peddle takes a look at the year that was… 

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