That was the year that was: 2013 in review

via sensenetworks

via sensenetworks

As we hurtle to the midpoint of the tens, Roisin Peddle looks back at yet another stranger-than-fiction year.

2013 got off to a dark start with the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohue last January during a robbery on a credit union in Jenkinstown, Co Louth. Det Gda Donohue was the 87th member of the Gardaí to die in the line of duty since the foundation of the state and was given a state funeral. His killers remain at large.

On a brighter note, 2013 was the year of The Gathering, a tourism initiative designed to attract the vast Irish diaspora back to the oul sod. Despite criticism from Michael O’Leary, Gabriel Byrne and others, the figures say The Gathering was a success, with a 7% rise in the number of visitors to these shores, including a 14% rise in American tourists.

The economy was finally predicted to turn that corner it’s been snaking around since 2009, and indeed we exited the bailout earlier this month. However, if the government expected fireworks and champagne from the Irish public, they were sorely disappointed. While there are slight indications of improvement, for the majority of Irish citizens it’s still the same old, same old, with high unemployment and emigration.

After a bitterly cold spring, many of us were loath to put away our winter coats, reasoning that our rainy season would bring much of the same. But 2013 had a glorious surprise in store for us; a scorching summer. Barbecues sold out, cider and sausage manufacturers could hardly believe their luck, and for several weeks blue skies and summer haze reigned.

Things heated up in the Dáil too. Although the lengthy debate on The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill concerned a serious and controversial topic, namely abortion, that didn’t stop our TDs racking up a bar bill of €1440 and one Fine Gael TD getting overexcited. Cork East TD Tom Barry was caught on camera dragging his colleague Aine Collins onto his lap. Lapgate stirred debate on the role of the Dáil Bar and how female politicians are treated in Ireland.

The bill eventually passed, and in another historic moment for the women of Ireland, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny apologised on behalf of the state to the survivors of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries.

It was all change in the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI took the world completely by surprise by resigning in February. He was the first Pope in centuries to do so, and was swiftly replaced by the genial and media-friendly Pope Francis. The Argentinian is proving himself more liberal and popular with the media, asking Catholics to concentrate on compassion and mercy.

What should have been a enjoyable day for the citizens of Boston in the US ended in horror and tragedy as two brothers set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed and over 200 injured. Following the culprits’ hijacking of a getaway vehicle and a chase through the Watertown area, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed. His brother Dzhokhar remains in custody.

Famous Paralympian Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day. His trial begins in March 2014.

War rages on in Syria with no sign of respite. A horrific factory collapse in Bangladesh brought the focus sharply on the real cost of cheap clothing. And North Korea periodically threatened nuclear war, not that many noticed.

Sales of burgers and ready meals plummeted early in the year after retailers and other manufacturers were caught putting horsemeat in beef products. This sparked rafts of corny jokes. Even Tesco themselves got in the act, albeit unintentionally, with this Twitter gem:

via Twitter

via Twitter

It also turned out that your crazy neighbour who won’t use a mobile phone because the government are spying on him? Well, Edward Snowden, a former US National Security Agency contractor, took to the Guardian to reveal that the agency had spied on its own citizens as well as world leaders, including Angela Merkel. Snowden is currently holed up in Russia, after applying for asylum in a number of countries, including Ireland.

In the UK, a prince was born to the Duke and Duchess and Cambridge. Prince George Alexander Louis warmed the hearts of royal watchers. It was a turbulent year for another British icon. Nigella Lawson’s marriage came under public scrutiny as pictures emerged of her husband, Charles Saatchi, grabbing her throat outside a London restaurant. Saatchi and Lawson separated. Worse was to come for the domestic goddess. At the trial of her two former PAs for fraud, allegations  emerged that Lawson was a drug user.

It was the year we lost one of the world’s true icons in Nelson Mandela. Little seemed to change in Northern Ireland, still reeling from the flags protests and renewed dissident activity. All in all, 2013 was a seminal year in the news, with shocks and spills galore.


As we hurtle to the midpoint of the tens, Roisin Peddle looks back at yet another stranger-than-fiction year.

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