Looking Back On 2011 by Annette J Dunlea
The highlight of 2011 was for me The Queen of England visiting Ireland where the Cork people impressed her with their hospitality.She gave the royal seal of approval to Cork walking and chatting in the Old English Market and shaking hands in the Grand Parade with the school children.Prof. John A Murphy entertained her with old Irish tales and presented her with a silk shawl.She later declared Cork was the highlight of her Irish tour.It was a momentous moment for Anglo Irish relations where the Queen personalised the English monarchy and won Irish hearts.Ireland once again hit international news with the visit of Barack Obama and who told us is feidir linn.He visited his old roots in Moneygall and was received by our President in the Aras.An open aired concert was held in his honour in Dublin.Austerity cuts were never far from the headlines and it culminated in a two day budget.The Fianna Fail government collapsed after accepting the EU/IMF bailout.The furious public voted them out of power.The huge payouts continued: banks and the credit unions.Amazingly, the Irish beat the British at cricket.Here are a list of some other things that stood out for me in the year.In January the Civil Partnership Act came into effect allowing civil partnerships where heterosexual and homosexual cohabiting couples have the same rights.Met Éireann confirmed that December 2010 was the coldest on record, with a temperature of -17.5°C recorded in Straide, County Mayo, on Christmas Day.The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, resigned his position as leader of the Fianna Fáil party.The Green Party withdrew from the coalition government, making an immediate general election necessary.In late Jan 2011 Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin was elected party leader of Fianna Fail while Brian Cowen continued as taoiseach.On 26th January the British prime minister, David Cameron announced that Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams has resigned from the British parliament by nominal appointment as Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.On 28th January a fireball exploded in the Irish atmosphere. Astronomy Ireland appealed to the public to report sightings.
On February 2011 it was announced that the Sunday Tribune newspaper has gone into receivership following the decision of Independent News & Media to stop funding it.The Taoiseach dissolved the Dáil and went to Áras an Uachtaráin where the President signed a proclamation of dissolution. The Minister for Local Government made an order appointing 25th February as polling day. The Clerk of the Dáil issues a writ to the constituency returning officers to initiate a general election, allowing posters of the candidates to be officially displayed.On 11th February the Eurosong 2011 competition was held in Dublin.A Russian agent was expelled from Ireland because of his role in the forgery of Irish passports for use in the "Illegals Program" spy ring in the United States. A Garda investigation discovered that members of the Russian espionage agency, the SVR, were involved in the forgeries.Alexander Smirnov, the first secretary in the Russian embassy's consular section, was ordered to leave Ireland.A small plane carrying ten passengers and two crew crashes while landing in fog at Cork Airport. Six people are killed.On 25th February the Irish general election was held. There were party reverses and gains on a historic scale with support for the outgoing government parties Fianna Fáil and the Green Party collapsing.On Feb 22nd there was an earthquake measuring 6.3 in magnitude strikes Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 181 people.In the Irish general election, the Fianna Fáil-led government suffered the worst defeat of a sitting government since the formation of the Irish state in 1921.
2nd March 2011 marked the day that Ireland beat England by 3 wickets in Bangalore at the World Cup with a Kevin O'Brien hitting the fastest World Cup century off only 50 balls!On 9th March the members of the 31st Dáil convened for the first time and elected Enda Kenny as Taoiseach by a vote of 117–27.On Mar 11th there was an earthquake measuring 9.0 in magnitude strikes 130 km east of Sendai, Japan, triggering a tsunami killing thousands of people. This event also triggered the second largest nuclear accident in history.A reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant melted and exploded and released radioactivity into the atmosphere a day after Japan's earthquake.
On 12th April Irish author Sebastian Barry was inducted into the Hennessy Literary Awards Hall of Fame by the president, Mary McAleese. A gunman murdered five people, injured eleven, and committed suicide in a mall in the Netherlands.Fidel Castro resigned from the Communist Party of Cuba's central committee after 45 years of holding the title.The Wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Kate Middleton attracted international attention and was closely followed by the Irish.Kate Middleton like Princess Diana became a fashion icon.
The highlight of the year happened in May with a royal visit.The 17th May – 20th May marked the State visit by Queen Elizabeth II, the first by a monarch of the United Kingdom to the Republic of Ireland since its formation.It was followed by a visit by President of the United States Barack Obama to Dublin.On 21st May 2011 the 2011 Heineken Cup Final was won by Leinster over the Northampton Saints.On 26th May Irish author John Banville won the Kafka Prize for literature.On May 1st Pope John Paul II was beatified by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI.Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the September 11 attacks and the FBI's most wanted man was killed by the United States special forces in Abbottabad.
Bewteen 30th June – 3rd July the Tall Ships' Races began in Waterford. Half a million people attended the festival.In Christchurch, New Zealand was hit by another strong earthquake measuring magnitude 6.3.Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched in the final mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle program.British tabloid News of the World published its last edition after 168 years in the wake of a major phone hacking scandal.
In July the VAT rate was lowered from 13.5% to 9% for a range of services connected to the hospitality and tourism sectors. On 13th July came the publication of the horrific Cloyne Report of the investigation of child clerical abuse. The investigating commission stated that the greatest failure by the diocese was the failure to report all abuse cases to the Gardaí.There followed on 20th July the Taoiseach's historic speech by Enda Kenny, in the Dáil to the Cloyne Report strongly attacking the Vatican and the Catholic Church. It captured the sheer horror and anger of the Irish populace.Norway was the victim of twin terror attacks, the first being a bomb blast which targeted government buildings in central Oslo, the second being a massacre at a youth camp on the island of Utøya.
In August David Norris withdrew from the Irish presidential election but resumed his candidacy in the following month. Svalbard was a rogue Polar Bear who attacked and killed a British schoolboy.In September there was the first Irish case of death by spontaneous combustion was recorded in Galway.A plane crash in Russia killed 43 people, including nearly the entire roster of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Kontinental Hockey League team.Occupy Wall Street movement began in Zucotti Park, New York City.On Sep 20th the United States ended its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, allowing gay men and women to serve openly for the first time.
On 24th October Ireland was struck by flash floods including heavy torrential rain in Dublin which was known as Monster Rain with up to 90mm of rain falling during six hours in the evening.On 27th October the Irish presidential election and three constitutional referendums were held.In October a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake stroke Van Province, Turkey, killing 582 people and injuring thousands.On Oct 31st the world population reaches 7 billion inhabitants according to the United Nations.
On 11th November 2011 Michael D. Higgins took office as President of Ireland. On 22 November Fine Gael's Darren Scully resigns as Mayor of Naas after commenting on live radio about the "aggressive attitude" of "black Africans".In November Prime Time Investigates was axed as Director-General of RTÉ Noel Curran describes the broadcasting of "Mission to Prey" as "one of the gravest editorial mistakes ever made" at RTÉ.On 26 November thousands of people marched against austerity in Dublin.On 30th November Audits of child protection practices conducted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church are published by six dioceses, with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raphoe, coming in for most criticism.On Nov 12th Silvio Berlusconi resigned as Prime Minister of Italy due to the European sovereign debt crisis.
On 1st December Tommy Broughan TD was expelled from the Labour Party after voting to reject a government amendment to extend the bank guarantee for another year.1st December also marks the day that Roscrea District Court solicitors stage a walkout over the courthouse's closure.2011 was a year long celebration of craft in Ireland.Ireland has been ranked the most charitable country in Europe and the second most charitable nation in the world, according to a new survey.The K Club Kildare has just been awarded with the title of ‘AA Ireland Hotel of the Year’ for 2010/2011.UCC was selected as University of the Year 2011-2012.Barry, managing director of the Barry Group, which is behind franchises such as BuyLo and Costcutter, has been named MSL Cork Business Person of the Year 2011.What a year once wonders what will 2012 bring, whatever it is I hope it is a good year for you all.
Causes Annette Dunlea Supports
The National Council of The Blind, Ireland