Northern Ireland news

Our journalists pick their favourite stories of 2015

31 December, 2015 16:49

FROM bouncy castles and magic tricks, to sporting heroes and legal history, we look back on the moments we'll take away from 2015.

John Monaghan - news journalist

MLA says 'no conflict of interest' in bouncy castle funding

John Monaghan chose the story of assembly member Adrian Cochrane-Watson who did not declare links when a bouncy castle company he was involved with was awarded almost £11,000 in council funding for loyalist bonfire celebrations.

"This article from November, which was excellently researched and sharply written, shone the spotlight on an elected representative who had not declared an interest and also highlighted where council funding was being spent," he said.

"It had all the key elements of a great story: the July 12 celebrations, bonfires, claims of conflict of interest, council funding and, to top it all off, bouncy castles."

Thomas Hawkins, Irish News sports editor

Michael Conlan writes boxing history for Ireland in Doha

"I have witnessed many brilliantly-talented boxers compete with distinction on the international stage. From right across the four provinces of Ireland, terrific young warriors have fought right through to the gold medal rostrum on virtually everylevel of competition," according to the sports editor.

"But one award had always eluded them. Katie Taylor had blazed a trail for the women of Ireland winning World Championship gold but in the 41-year history of the Men's World Championships, no Irishman had ever attained that distinction. Would an Irishman every stand tall on the world stage? It seemed always just beyond reach.

"That is until Belfast's Michael Conlan blasted out all before him to have his hand raised in world final victory at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena in Doha on an unforgettable Friday evening on October 14 2015.

"There was high drama in the third round of his world war win over Murodjon Akhmadaliev (Uzbekistan) as the 23-year-old west Belfast man hit the canvas.

"But this incredible fighting bantam survived to record a unanimous decision title triumph and Irish boxing history. Conlan crossed the Rubicon that day; Irish boxing will never be the same.

"Roll on Rio..."


Bimpe Archer - news journalist

First female judges appointed to High Court in historic move

"In 2015 there weren't a lot of historic firsts left to us, but this definitely was one.

"The atmosphere in the high court was electric that day as fellow judges, barristers, family and friends packed in to see history being made. 


"It followed an Irish News article earlier in the year highlighting the fact that the north was the only jurisdiction in Ireland and the UK to not have a woman - other than the head of the Prison Service - in any of the senior positions in policing and justice. 

"Change was a long time coming, but it had finally arrived."

Cahair O’Kane - sports journalist

Route one could be right road for Emmet's

"My favourite story of 2015 was a feature on the Ballerin team that reached the All-Ireland club final in 1977. Barney O'Kane and Gerry Keane were players on that team and both had plenty of fond memories of not just that season, but that particular period, which was a successful one for the small Sarsfields club.

"Barney played senior football from 1969 until 2002, an absolutely incredible length of time, while Gerry's career - which included a promising Irish League spell, where he netted 20 goals in his first season with Portadown - was blighted by injury."

Maeve Connolly - deputy digital editor

Orangutan has his mind blown by a magic trick

"What's not to love about an Orangutan being tickled by a magic trick?"

Andy Watters - sports journalist

Martin O'Neill hoping he has heroes, not has-beens

"This is my favourite story from 2015 because the Republic of Ireland's 1-1 draw in this game paved the way for their qualification to next summer's Euro 2016 finals.

"Travelling to Bosnia for the game - the first leg of the play-offs - was an unforgettable experience and the Republic laid down a marker on a smoggy night in Zenica".

Claire Simpson - news journalist

Belfast artist posthumously awarded major prize

Joe McWilliams was one of Ireland's finest painters whose striking  work 'Christian Flautists outside St Patrick's' generated headlines after his death. The artist, who died on October 7 at the age of 76, was posthumously awarded a prestigious prize for the painting at the annual Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition.

The artwork, which depicted loyalist bandsmen marching in circles  outside St Patrick's Catholic church on Donegall Street in Belfast in 2012, sparked controversy over a small detail in one corner.


The Orange Order claimed it showed members wearing white Ku Klux Klan clothing in a "deliberate demonisation" of its cultural heritage, and asked for the 7ft oil canvas to be removed.

But the Royal Ulster Academy defended the right of artists to "unfettered expression".

Aeneas Bonner - deputy news editor

McDonald's Irish burger 'McMor' won't be sold in Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff accused McDonald's of being "partitionist" as a new Irish burger was only available in the south.

"It is not 'mór go leor' because it does not incorporate the six counties. If it's available in Letterkenny then it should be available in Omagh," he said.

Louise Gunn, GAA columnist

Donaghmoyne claim All-Ireland Club title despite two red cards

"The Donaghmoyne team, from Co Monaghan,  must take pride of place at the top of Christmas tree of ladies football for 2015. You have to take your hat off to an incredible club and bunch of players and their brilliant manager Francie Coleman and his management team for their achievement over the past couple of months.

"They possessed a renewed hunger and passion to succeed this year to win their fourth Dolores Tyrell Memorial Cup. They blazed a trail in this year’s provincial and national competitions.


"In Ulster they were too good for the rest while in the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin side Foxrock-Cabinteely they showed huge character, playing 40 of the 60 minutes with just 14 players to book their place in a sixth All-Ireland final.

"In the final against Cork and Munster champions Mourneabbey, Donaghmoyne emerged as champions, winning 0-11 to 0-8."

31 December, 2015 16:49 Northern Ireland news

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