Tuesday 21 January 2020

'2019 was the year...' - Here are the 12 stories that got us talking most in the last 12 months


Replay joy: Brian Fenton celebrates as Dublin win five-in-a-row. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Replay joy: Brian Fenton celebrates as Dublin win five-in-a-row. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Empathy: The Late Late Toy Show was one of the few highlights for RTÉ this year
Brexit victory: Boris Johnson won a commanding majority in this month’s UK general election
Pioneer: Greta sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to attend a UN summit on zero emissions
Torture: Two teenage boys were sentenced over the murder of Ana Kriégel near her family home in Co Kildare
Repatriated: Lisa Smith. Photo: Tom Conachy
Final days: John Delaney in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying match vs Georgia at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in March
Jealousy: Pat Quirke, who was convicted of murdering Bobby Ryan, AKA Mr Moonlight
'Unsupervised': Maria Bailey TD. Picture by Gerry Mooney
Royal pariah: Prince Andrew did not express regret about his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
Not in our name: Lyra McKee

2019 was the year Brexit started to feel real; it was the year we bade farewell to Gay Byrne, the year of Swing-gate and the year of climate strikes and Greta Thunberg. Kim Bielenberg and John Meagher round up a dozen stories that got us talking most

A year in sport

Record crowd for 'ladies' and five-in-a-row

Fans of Dublin's Gaelic football team must have felt they were in dreamland in September when the county became the first ever to win five consecutive men's All-Ireland finals. They were hot favourites against Kerry but the Kingdom put it up to them. It went to a replay and there was no doubting Dublin's dominance.

Manager Jim Gavin received many of the plaudits and there was some surprise in December when he stepped aside. New manager Dessie Farrell has big shoes to fill. Not everyone was thrilled about the Dubs' stranglehold over Gaelic football, with allegations of "financial doping" tainting their success in the eyes of some.

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In hurling, it was a great year for Tipperary. They may have been comprehensively beaten by defending champions Limerick in the Munster Final, but on All-Ireland day, the Premier County obliterated old enemy Kilkenny.

There were record crowds for both the Ladies' Gaelic football final and the camogie final, with more than 56,000 attending the former - a wretchedly poor game played in awful conditions and won by Dublin.

If there was plenty to cheer about in Gaelic games, rugby fans had little to enjoy in 2019. The year begun with enormous anticipation following the Grand Slam exploits and the defeat of New Zealand the previous season. The Six Nations tournament was a damp squib and pre-World Cup matches in the summer illustrated just how far the country had fallen (Ireland had been ranked number one in the world earlier in the year). But worse was to come. After suffering a shock defeat at the hands of host Japan in the World Cup, Joe Schmidt's men were obliterated by New Zealand in the quarter final. The tournament was eventually won by South Africa, managed by former Munster coach Rassie Erasmus.

And there was disappointment for Leinster in the Champions Cup Final at Newcastle. They relinquished their crown to Saracens.

In soccer, there wasn't a great deal to cheer either. The national team struggled to score in qualifying matches for next year's Euros - and failed to beat Denmark in Dublin in order to achieve automatic qualification. However, their performance on the night was widely hailed as the best in years.

In domestic football, Dundalk demonstrated why they have been the finest club this side of the decade by winning the Airtricity League yet again. And it was a year to remember for Shamrock Rovers, as they lifted the FAI Cup for the first time since 1987.

For Irish football fans, though, it was events off the pitch that dominated headlines (see the entry on John Delaney on page 6).

On a more positive note, Ciara Mageean finished in the 1,500m top 10 in the World Athletics Championships in the controversial setting of Doha. She will be one to watch in next year's Tokyo Olympics.

- JM



Full extent of financial crisis emerges at national broadcaster

Empathy: The Late Late Toy Show was one of the few highlights for RTÉ this year

At the end of November, Ryan Tubridy presided over what many people consider to have been the best-ever Late Late Toy Show. It seemed to perfectly judge the mood of the nation and gave a wide berth to the materialism of yesteryear. And the host's empathy was in evidence in a beautiful interview with eight-year-old Dublin girl Sophia Maher who talked about the bullying she had experienced because she wanted to look different to everyone else. 

It was one of the few occasions in 2019 when RTÉ was in the news for positive reasons. Earlier this month, for instance, Tubridy and the Late Late was under fire for creating a special pub set for a tribute show on Shane MacGowan - but that was in the ha'penny place compared to the nightmare that the national broadcaster never seemed to wake up from this year.

It had long been known that RTÉ was struggling financially, especially with the Government refusing to sanction an increase in the licence fee, as well as seismic changes in the media landscape over the past decade which have resulted in plummeting advertising revenues. But the extent of the problems became apparent when director general Dee Forbes announced a raft of cost-saving measures. There would be pay cuts for all staff and the abolition of digital radio stations while the highest earners - household names all - would have to face a 15pc cut in their salaries. The NUJ chapel in RTÉ later proposed that the top pay should not exceed €208,000 - a move that has, apparently, caused much friction in Montrose.

The death of legendary broadcaster Gay Byrne came around the time of Forbes' proposed cost-cutting - and it served to remind those in RTÉ and the wider public of a time of plenty when Byrne could command 800,000 listeners every morning on his radio show and advertisers were queueing up to spend their money.

It was a challenging time for other areas of the media, too. The Irish print edition of The Times was wound up in May just a couple of years after launching amid much fanfare.

Meanwhile, one of the newer kids on the block, Maximum Media -publisher of Joe.ie and Her.ie - found itself in the firing line after it emerged that it had used so-called "click farms" in order to boost audience figures for some of its podcasts. One of the country's largest media buying agencies said it would look elsewhere and, in an effort to stem the tide, founder Niall McGarry said he was stepping away from the Irish operation.

- JM


UK election

After Theresa's stumbles, Boris  wins with pledge to 'get Brexit done'

Brexit victory: Boris Johnson won a commanding majority in this month’s UK general election

It was a dramatic turnaround for a Conservative Party that had been deeply divided and in disarray over the UK government's botched plans to leave the European Union this year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson emerged victorious in a general election in December as voters rewarded him with a commanding majority and a new mandate to leave the EU at the end of January 2020.

He had earlier been cast as a buffoon, unfit to lead his country, but Johnson's simple promise to "get Brexit done'', and widespread unease with the style and policies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn combined to give the Conservatives their best performance since Margaret Thatcher's victory in 1987.

Earlier in the year, Theresa May had steadfastly tried to win members of parliament over to a withdrawal agreement from the EU.

But she had to rely on the DUP to prop up the government, and in the early months of the year she found it impossible to command the support of the House of Commons.

She appeared to lack any skills as a dealmaker, capable of forging an alliance in parliament.

Britain's departure from the EU was postponed three times during the year, twice during her premiership.

The main sticking point for many Conservative MPs and the DUP was the backstop. This was a guarantee in the withdrawal agreement designed to ensure there would be no border posts or barriers in Ireland after Brexit. If it had been needed, the backstop would have kept the UK in a close trading relationship with the EU, thus avoiding checks.

Parliament's opposition to her deal eventually led to May's resignation and the eventual election of Boris Johnson as party leader. When he arrived in Downing Street, Johnson took a more aggressive, bullish approach to parliament.

Parliament was prorogued, or suspended, for over a month, but the Supreme Court ruled that the prorogation was unlawful.

At times during the year, the shenanigans in Westminster led to uncertainty over the future of the Irish border and what would happen if the UK crashed out of the EU without a deal.

Boris Johnson negotiated a revised deal with the EU. The backstop has been replaced with new customs arrangements. The revised plan effectively creates a customs and regulatory border between Northern Ireland and Britain. Under this convoluted arrangement, some goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain would have to pay EU import tariffs.

These would be refunded if goods remained in Northern Ireland (that is if they are not moved south of the border).

This version of the backstop was anathema to the DUP, who effectively snookered themselves by putting their trust in the Conservatives.

Intent on an election, Boris eventually had no use for the unionists - and the party's support declined in the election. For the first time ever, the election results showed nationalist MPs outnumbering unionists in the six counties.

- KB


Climate change

Greta effect inspires Green wave with best-ever result at elections

Pioneer: Greta sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to attend a UN summit on zero emissions

The 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg was the unlikely inspiration for a youthful movement for action on climate change.

Her high-profile appeals for global measures to tackle the emergency contributed to a resurgence in the Irish Green Party at local and European elections in May.

At the European elections, the Green Party won two seats and 11.4pc of the vote, its best nationwide performance in any election.

Ciarán Cuffe topped the poll in Dublin, and he was joined in the European parliament by Grace O'Sullivan, who was elected in the South constituency.

The Green Party also enjoyed sweeping gains in the local elections, with the number of elected councillors increasing from 12 to 49. They became the second biggest party on Dublin City Council.

Throughout the year, Greta was seldom out of the headlines, because she delivered simple, well-articulated messages through words as well as actions. She told the World Economic Forum in Davos: "I don't want your hope. I don't want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day, and then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is."

In August, she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on a yacht to attend a UN summit on zero emissions. And she sailed in the other direction to Portugal for another UN conference in Madrid.

In the previous year, she was described as a frail and lonely figure when she started a school strike for the climate outside the Swedish parliament building.

But her strike snowballed into an international movement in 2019, with schoolchildren across the world following her example.

In September, thousands of Irish schoolchildren took to the streets as protests were held across Ireland and across the world.

In Dublin, more than 10,000 children and young people gathered in the city centre for a demonstration.

Placard slogans included: "I've seen smarter cabinets in Ikea", "There is no planet B", and "The dinosaurs also thought they had time."

Inevitably, Greta Thunberg's campaign irked climate-change sceptics such as US President Donald Trump. He tweeted: "Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old-fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!"

The pigtailed teenager has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, where people may have difficulties in social interaction. Responding to her critics, Thunberg said on social media: "When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you're winning! I have Asperger's and that means I'm sometimes a bit different from the norm. And - given the right circumstances - being different is a superpower."

Despite these protests and ambitious government targets, measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been slow to materialise. A hike in carbon taxes was announced in the budget, as well as the closure of power stations that use peat to generate electricity.

- KB


Ana Kriégel

Young girl's murder trial throws spotlight on porn and cyberbullying

Torture: Two teenage boys were sentenced over the murder of Ana Kriégel near her family home in Co Kildare

It was among the most distressing court cases in the history of the State - and the Ana Kriégel trial wore on for eight long weeks in the Central Criminal Court.

Ana - a 14-year-old schoolgirl - was tortured and murdered close to her family home in Co Kildare.

The perpetrators were her 13-year-old classmates - who, due to being under 18, can only be identified as Boy A and Boy B.

The details of her death seemed to have been drawn from a horror film.

Ana was lured away from her home by Boy B and brought to an abandoned building where Boy A was waiting.

He proceeded to tie her up and beat her savagely.

Boy A was sentenced to a term of life on the first count of murder and will serve an initial 12 years, followed by a review. The sentence may be extended after the first 12 years served. 

Boy A was also convicted of aggravated sexual assault. A term of 12 years was also imposed for that count, to be served concurrently.

Boy B was sentenced to 15 years for murder, with the sentence to be reviewed after eight years. Both were incarcerated in Oberstown Children Detention Campus and will be transferred to adult prisons when they turn 18. According to Justice Paul McDermott, it was a "murder of the most serious, shocking and disturbing" kind.

During the case, it emerged that Boy A was a voracious consumer of online pornography - much of it of an extreme variety.

It led to something of a national conversation on how porn has become so readily available to children as young as eight.

A previous generation would have to run the gamut of the family computer in order to get their fix, but now - with smartphone use by children among the highest in the EU - a huge selection of hardcore porn is available 24/7 on their phones.

The trial also highlighted the scourge of cyberbullying. Poor Ana Kriégel did not just suffer a horrendous death; it emerged that she was also relentlessly bullied by other children.

Much of the focus of the torment was centred on social media platforms, including Snapchat and Instagram.

In a victim impact statement, her mother Geraldine told the court about the never-ending pain that arrived from the moment the child was murdered on May 14, 2018.

"Life without Ana is no longer a life, nor is it even an existence - it is a misery that we must endure for the rest of our lives."

- JM


Lisa Smith

From Syria to Limerick Prison

Repatriated: Lisa Smith. Photo: Tom Conachy

If the horrors perpetrated by Isis have felt like they happened a world away from Ireland, the actions of this most hated group felt a bit closer to home in 2019.

A former solider in the Irish Army, Lisa Smith was this year taken into custody on suspicion that she was a member of the terror group that came to prominence earlier this decade.Smith has denied these allegations and said she merely wanted to live in the Islamic State region and follow the teachings of the Koran.

The Dundalk native was a member of the Irish Defence Forces before transferring to the Irish Air Corps where she served as a flight attendant on the government jet during the tenure of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

She converted to Islam after the breakdown of her marriage and travelled to Syria in 2015.

She was captured and detained by US forces in northern Syria earlier this year. She was at that point caring for a toddler.

She spoke to reporter Norma Costello from the detention camp she was incarcerated in, claiming to be innocent and wishing to return home.

There was considerable disquiet from some when it emerged the Government would attempt to repatriate Smith and her child.

Despite that, the Government did repatriate her and she was immediately arrested when she landed at Dublin Airport.

After extensive questioning, she was detained for several weeks in Limerick Prison before being granted bail.

- JM


John Delaney

Tennis balls on the pitch as FAI chief finally succumbs to storm

Final days: John Delaney in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying match vs Georgia at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in March

In April, John Delaney of Football Association of Ireland appeared before the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee. He was there to answer questions about a €100,000 bridging loan he had given the association that had come to light following a Sunday Times investigation.

Delaney, who had been CEO but was now in a specially created new position of executive vice-president, was in typically bullish mood as he sat in front of an all-party panel of TDs. And he had little interest in cooperating. "I am not in a position," he said, "to answer any such questions at this time... given that some members of this committee have made highly prejudicial public pronouncements about me personally prior to my attendance here today."

Sinn Féin's Imelda Munster captured the incredulity of those present when she said: "The former CEO has behaved disgracefully today. It's been farcical. The only good thing is that the public out there have witnessed it."

Delaney had already earned the ire of the general public. The previous month, in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Georgia, tennis balls had been thrown on the pitch in protest at the way the FAI was governed.

But it would soon emerge - thanks to tenacious journalism from Mark Tighe and others - that the bridging Ioan was merely the tip of the iceberg when it came to how Delaney ran the organisation.

Not only was Delaney enjoying a salary of €360,000 - more than three times the prize money for winners of the League of Ireland - but the association was also paying his €3,000 monthly rent. Furthermore, some €60,000 was spent on his 50th birthday party, and separately, the same amount was paid to a former girlfriend, too.

The questions kept mounting up, but Delaney tried to ride out the storm - and, in the early days of the revelations, tried to get a court order to stop newspapers publishing details. Eventually, he stepped aside but not before negotiating a generous severance package for himself.

At the beginning of the month, the full extent of the FAI's problems became clear after an independent audit. The organisation is in debt to the tune of at least €55m and will likely not be free of that debt until 2030. Now, employees face an uncertain Christmas with the threat of job losses hanging over them.

It was one of several scandals involving money and people in power. Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy claimed more than €50,000 in annual expenses despite being largely absent in the Dáil for two years. His party colleague, Health Minister Simon Harris, called on him to give the money back. Murphy has remained silent on the matter although he did show up in Leinster House in order to support Eoghan Murphy in the no-confidence vote taken against him.

'Murphygate' came around the time that it emerged that a printer, purchased at great expense for the houses of the Oireachtas, was too big to get through the door. Only in Ireland?

- JM



Maria Bailey faces life on sidelines after 'errors of judgment'

'Unsupervised': Maria Bailey TD. Picture by Gerry Mooney

The Dún Laoghaire Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey found herself embroiled in controversy when the Irish Independent revealed in May that she had filed a personal injury claim over a fall from a swing at Dublin's Dean Hotel in 2015.

The revelation, just days before the local and European elections, caused significant public controversy amidst ongoing criticism of the Government's failure to tackle rising insurance premiums.

Bailey's lawsuit included a claim the hotel was liable for the accident because the swing was 'unsupervised'. Legal papers lodged by the hotel show it had counter argued that she was holding items in both hands at the time of the fall.

It was subsequently revealed that Bailey had taken part in a 10km race three weeks after the swing fall. She had lodged papers on the basis that she had suffered injuries to her head, lower back and hip after falling backward off a swing.

Soon after the story broke, the TD took part in a now infamous radio interview with Sean O'Rourke. It only seemed to inflame the controversy and caused dismay within Fine Gael.

A report by a senior counsel found that Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, who was then a backbench TD, gave initial legal advice to Bailey and helped her colleague with her application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. Bailey was advised she had a "stateable" case.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that there were "inconsistencies" in Bailey's account of events to him and the media that he could not reconcile. He also said she had made "numerous errors of judgment".

Bailey said she regretted taking the case but had acted on legal advice throughout the process. The Taoiseach sacked her as chair of the Oireachtas Housing Committee in July. The matter came to a head in the autumn when party members in Dún Laoghaire voted in favour of an urgent review of the constituency's election candidates.

In November, Fine Gael removed her from the general election ticket in Dún Laoghaire.

The controversy brought personal injuries payouts and claims that there is a pervasive compensation culture to the fore.

Senator Michael McDowell highlighted the controversy surrounding Bailey's personal-injury action when he raised the matter in the Seanad.

McDowell said: "If the Government is serious about driving down the claims culture, we cannot stand idly by when adults lose their seat with two objects, one in each hand, and fall off a swing and then claim that there should have been a supervisor looking after them."

- KB


'Mr Moonlight'

Murderer motivated by 'love and money' gets  life for killing rival

Jealousy: Pat Quirke, who was convicted of murdering Bobby Ryan, AKA Mr Moonlight

After the longest murder trial in the history of the State, the Tipperary farmer Pat Quirke was convicted by a majority jury verdict of 10-2 at the Central Criminal Court.

The prosecution successfully built a case that Quirke killed the popular quarry worker and DJ Bobby Ryan, known as Mr Moonlight, driven by jealousy and greed.

Quirke staged the discovery of Bobby Ryan's body, which had been dumped in a hidden run-off tank on Mary Lowry's farm at Fawnagown.

Lowry was Bobby Ryan's girlfriend. She had previously been in a secret relationship with Quirke, her late husband's brother-in-law.

The trial lasted for 15 weeks and Quirke was handed the mandatory life sentence for murder.

The prosecution alleged Quirke was motivated by "love and money" to kill Bobby Ryan and dump his body.

It said Quirke killed his victim so he could rekindle his affair with Mary Lowry, the widow whose farm he was leasing.

This was denied by Quirke, who attempted to deflect attention on to Mary Lowry when he was interviewed by gardaí.

Lowry had what she described as a "seedy" and "sordid" affair with Quirke between 2008 and 2010 and gave him financial assistance.

But she was in a relationship with Bobby Ryan, a father-of-two, by the time of his disappearance.

The jury had heard that Ryan vanished after leaving Lowry's house at 6.30am on June 3, 2011.

His body was discovered 22 months later by Quirke in an underground tank on the farm, but the prosecution alleged this was a "staged" discovery.

The verdict brought an end to a case which was almost entirely based on circumstantial evidence.

There was no murder weapon, no murder scene was identified and the case was described as being "forensically barren".

However, the prosecution argued there was a lot of circumstantial evidence. Taken in isolation, each piece of evidence may merely have aroused suspicion.

But the prosecution successfully argued that when woven together, the various strands of circumstantial evidence proved Quirke's guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The jury was told Quirke was one of only four people who knew of the existence of the tank where the body was dumped and he had exclusive access to it.

Mary Lowry testified that Quirke looked "hot and bothered" when she had seen him in the farmyard on the morning of Ryan's disappearance.

On April 30, 2013, Quirke claimed to have "discovered" Mr Ryan's remains in the run-off tank. But his behaviour afterwards aroused suspicions.

The phone records confirmed Quirke rang his wife Imelda rather than ringing gardaí after seeing the body in the tank. "I don't think he was shocked or afraid for one moment," prosecution counsel Michael Bowman SC told the jury.

The trial also heard there were internet searches for "human body decomposition" found on a computer taken from Quirke's house in the months before the body was recovered.

- KB



Housing and beef: a year of discontent

There are protests and then there are chaos-causing protests with four-wheel drive tractors that gridlock an entire city. At the end of November when farmers brought their grievance about the low price they were being paid for their beef, everybody knew about it.

Then they targeted the meat depots used by the country's largest supermarkets. And, then, a week before Christmas, they were back on the streets of Dublin to remind the Minster for Agriculture and the general public that they simply weren't being paid the same price per kilo that their Northern Irish counterparts enjoy.

2019 may not have been a year of street protests to rival that of the early 1980s, but there was a great deal of discontent on the ground. And much of it was aimed at a government that appeared to be running on empty for much of the year.

There was fury about hospital waiting lists - which included an Irish Independent front page story from this month about a boy with cancer who has had to wait for chemotherapy treatment - as well as the escalating cost of the National Children's Hospital, which is currently under construction.

Emergency accommodation

But the topic that seemed to be on almost everyone's lips this year was homelessness. More than 10,000 people are in emergency accommodation right now - a figure that has surged in the eight years that Fine Gael have been in power.

The year ended with over 4,000 children who are officially homeless. There were heart-rending accounts of the developmental difficulties experienced by children in such accommodation - everything from a difficulty with chewing thanks to a dependence on soft foods (due to the policy of some hotels not to allow residents to cook in their rooms), inability to walk at the correct age and troubles with nappy weaning.

And homelessness in Ireland got an overseas audience when a five-year-old boy was photographed sitting on a cardboard box on Grafton Street eating a bowl of pasta. He was one of the youngest people served by the Homeless Street Café, which operates in the country's most famous shopping street every Tuesday night. And he and his mother have become frequent visitors to this pop-up soup kitchen. Often, it is the only hot meal he gets to eat that day.

A UN report this year may have suggested that Ireland was the third best country in the world in which to live, but for a growing cohort of our population, the reality could not be further away.



British royals

Epstein scandal leads to  another royal annus horribilis

Royal pariah: Prince Andrew did not express regret about his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein

It has been another annus horribilis for the British royal family, as they continued to attract publicity for the wrong reasons.

While viewers watched the historical drama about Elizabeth's reign in the Netflix series, The Crown, the up-to-date real life soap opera played out in news reports.

It started with Prince Philip's Land Rover crashing into another car near the Sandringham Estate, injuring a motorist - and it all went downhill from there.

Prince Harry and Meghan found themselves targeted by the tabloids, and the year reached an absolute low point with Prince Andrew's calamitous interview with the BBC in November about his dealings with the deceased and disgraced tycoon, Jeffrey Epstein.

Accusations against the prince about having sex with a 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre had been public for many months.

She alleged in a September interview that Epstein enslaved her as a teenager and facilitated sexual encounters between her and the Duke of York. The duke has always denied any form of sexual contact.

These were among the most serious ­allegations ever made against a member of the royal family in modern times, but for much of the year the tabloid press was fixated on the minor peccadilloes of Prince Harry's wife, Meghan.

She was criticised for living an opulent lifestyle, which may be hard to avoid if you become part of the royal family.

This led Prince Harry to come to Meghan's defence. He lambasted the "relentless propaganda" by a "press pack that has vilified her almost daily for the past nine months".

Eventually, the attention switched back to Prince Andrew when he gave his BBC interview with Emily Maitlis.

During the interview, he gave a string of reasons as to why Virginia Giuffre's accusations were false, including the fact that her account of him sweating while dancing at a nightclub could not be true because he suffered from a medical condition which stops him perspiring.

This led one New York tabloid to carry the banner headline on its front page: "HIS ROYAL DRYNESS."

Failing to sympathise with Epstein's victims in his interview, Andrew did not express regret about his friendship with the sex offender. In fact, as he suggested, he found it useful for the connections he made.

Regardless of whether he had a sexual encounter with Virginia Giuffre when she was underage, his continued association with Epstein after the tycoon was convicted of soliciting a minor for prostitution inevitably led to Andrew becoming a royal pariah.

Eventually, he was forced to step back from royal duties after he was effectively dismissed by the queen.

- KB


Lyra McKee

'A brilliant light has gone out'

Not in our name: Lyra McKee

On a Thursday night in April, the 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee was at the centre of a riot on the streets of Derry.

She posted her final Twitter post showing a police vehicle being pelted by petrol bombs with the caption: "Derry tonight. Absolute madness."

She was killed shortly afterwards, shot dead by a gunman firing towards police as trouble flared in the Creggan area. Police said the gunman was a member of the New IRA, a tiny paramilitary group that opposed the Good Friday Agreement.

Reporting from the scene, the journalist Leona O'Neill said: "Bystanders screamed at rioters 'look what you have done' through tears. No one could believe a young woman had been cut down in their streets."

Born in Belfast just a few years before the 1998 accord was struck to end the kind of violence that took her life, Lyra was remembered in an outpouring of tributes as an intelligent, talented writer who brought a human touch to difficult subjects.

McKee wrote and spoke openly about the struggles of growing up gay in a hostile environment. A 2014 blog post - 'A Letter to my 14-Year-Old Self' - received much acclaim and was subsequently turned into a short film.

By that stage, McKee had already been named Sky News Young Journalist of the Year - an award she won in 2006 - and was named as one of the "30 under 30 in media" by Forbes magazine 10 years later.

She wrote for publications both in Northern Ireland and aboard, including the UK's Independent newspaper.

In 2018, McKee had signed a two-book deal with British publisher Faber and Faber. She was writing a book on the disappearance of young people during the Troubles.

In a story published by the Mosaic Science website in 2016 that was widely shared on social media, McKee had explored why in Northern Ireland more people took their own lives in the first 16 years after the so-called Troubles ended than died during them.

"We were the Good Friday Agreement generation, destined to never witness the horrors of war but to reap the spoils of peace," she wrote. "The spoils just never seemed to reach us."

The landmark Free Derry Corner was marked by graffiti to reflect the revulsion felt at the killing of Lyra.

The famous civil rights-era slogan on a gable wall is regularly altered to reflect community sentiment in the Bogside.

A message on the wall said "Not in our name, RIP Lyra" with a heart painted beside it.

Leona O'Neill wrote in her piece in the Irish Independent in the days after the killing: "A brilliant light has gone out and Northern Ireland is a much darker place today without her."

- KB

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