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2016 in Review, Top 10 News and Sports Stories

Here we look back at the top 10 news and sports stories of 2016, most of which have been covered by us here at the UCC express, you can check out our news, features and sports articles from the past year on our website at uccexpress.ie, or in our archives on issuu.com/uccexpress


In June of this year the United Kingdom, by a margin of 52-48%, voted by referendum to leave the European Union. David Cameron, upon the announcement of the result, resigned as PM of the UK, with Theresa May eventually succeeding him. May would later announce that the government intended to invoke article 50 of the treaty on the European Union and initiate the formal procedure for the leaving the EU by the end of 2017. This would put the UK on a course to fully leave the EU by 2019 if no negotiated agreement is reached. May has promised a bill to remove the European Communities Act 1972 from the statute book and to incorporate existing EU laws into UK domestic law. The terms of withdrawal have not yet been negotiated; in the meantime, the UK remains a full member of the European Union.

Refugee Crisis:

The European migrant crisis, or European refugee crisis as it is known, began is 2015 when increasing numbers of refugees and migrants began making the journey to the EU to seek asylum, either through crossing the Mediterranean Sea or by traveling through South-east Europe. Most of the refugees are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, fleeing war and persecution. In particular, the Syrian civil war, an ongoing conflict since 2011, has produced almost half of the refugees or migrants. The sheer numbers of migrants crossing into Europe have led to a backlash in many EU countries over migrant quotas and the surrounding issues of responsibility. This has led to the rise or re-emergence of the more nationalist political groups and parties particularly in Germany, Austria and France. As of May of this year the death toll had exceeded over 2,500, the majority of these coming from the dangerous attempts at crossing the Mediterranean Sea, but since then this figure has rose drastically and now stands at almost 5,000.

Summer Olympics 2016:

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games were held in August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over 11,000 athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees, including first time entrants Kosovo, South Sudan and the Refugee Olympic team, took part. Rio became the first South American City to host the summer Olympics, and the 2016 Games were also the first games to be held in a Portuguese-speaking country, and the first to be held entirely within the host country’s winter. The US topped the medal table for the 5th time in 6 summer games with 46 gold medals (with the most overall with 121) including their 1000th Olympic gold medal. Great Britain finished in 2nd while China came in 3rd, with the hosts winning 7 gold medals, the most at any summer games for Brazil, finishing in 13th place overall. Fiji, Jordan, Kosovo, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Tajikistan, Ivory Coast and Vietnam each won their first gold medals, as did the group of Independent Olympic Athletes (from Kuwait).

The games, however, were somewhat marred by several notable controversies and concerns, such as the outbreak of the zika virus and concerns over crime, security and political and economic crises. In addition to these several incidents plagued the games, including: organisational problems with anthems and flags, doping scandals, unsportsmanlike crowds, judging during the boxing competitions, a controversy surrounding whether a not a current in the pool benefitted some swimmers, the Lochgate scandal and the illegal resale of hundreds of tickets allocated to the Irish Olympic committee.


Rosetta Probe and Philae:

Rosetta was a space probe built by the European Space Agency launched on 2 March 2004. Along with Philae, its lander module, Rosetta performed a detailed study of comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko. During its journey to the comet, the spacecraft flew by Mars and the asteroids 21 Lutetia and 2867 Šteins. On 6 August 2014, the spacecraft reached the comet and performed a series of manoeuvres to be captured in its orbit. On 12 November, its lander module Philae performed the first successful landing on a comet, though its battery power ran out two days later due to it landing in an unsuitable location for the recharging of its solar batteries. Communications with Philae were briefly restored in June and July 2015, but due to diminishing solar power, Rosetta’s communications module with the lander was turned off on 27 July 2016. On 30 September 2016, the Rosetta spacecraft ended its mission by landing on the comet in its Ma’at region. The mission managed several historic firsts, such as getting a spacecraft into orbit around a comet and the unprecedented landing of a probe on the surface. A handful of previous spacecraft had snapped pictures and collected data as they flew past their targets. That data will reveal information on the side walls of the comet, crucial to understanding how they are formed, plus on large 100-metre (300 foot) wide pits, which scientists believe are key to how the comet releases gas and dust as it is warmed by the sun. Data collected by Rosetta and Philae is already helping scientists better understand how the Earth and other planets formed. For example, scientists now believe that asteroids, not comets were primarily responsible for delivering water to Earth and other planets in the inner solar system, possibly setting the stage for life.

1916 commemorations:

2016 marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, one of the defining moments of the struggle for Irish independence.  The rising saw days of fighting on the streets of Dublin with hundreds of casualties on both sides. Those who lost their lives were honoured earlier this year in April with commemorations in Dublin, including a wreath laying at Dublin Castle on Easter Sunday, a ceremony in the Garden of Remembrance, a street parade and the Easter Rising Centenary Visitor Facility being opened at the General Post Office. The ambition of Ireland 2016 is that people everywhere, in Ireland and overseas, will discover more about 1916 and that period in our history, by participating in events held all around the country and abroad, and by gaining access to newly available online historical and cultural material about 1916.

Euro 2016: The 2016 UEFA European Championships were held in France from 10 June to 10 July. For the first time, the European Championship final tournament was contested by 24 teams, having been expanded from the 16-team format. Portugal won the tournament for the first time, following a 1–0 victory after extra time over the host team, France. The Republic of Ireland qualified for their second European Championships in a row by defeating Bosnia & Herzegovina in a two-legged play off in November of 2015. There were a number of surprises and upsets throughout the tournament; countries like Wales, Hungary and Iceland outperformed expectations, while teams like Austria, England and Spain underperformed and exited early.  Hooliganism was a problem at the Championships, with English fans clashing with police on June 10th, and again on the 11th, where violent clashes erupted in the streets of the same city before and after the Group B match between England and Russia. In contrast, the Irish fans were welcomed and embraced, becoming a social media sensation with their exploits in France. The Irish team themselves didn’t let the fans down, managing to progress from a very difficult group with a late winner against Italy before falling to the hosts in a tight-fought Final 16 match in Lyon. Following the attacks on Paris on 13 November 2015, there were concerns about the safety of players and tourists, however the strong security presence ensured the tournament passed off safely.

Irish General Election:  The Irish General Election took place on 26th February. Despite losing 26 seats from their win in 2011, Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael party, with their manifesto titled “Let’s keep the recovery going,” remained the largest party in the Dáil. Fianna Fáil bounced back from their worst ever election result in 2011, winning 44 seats, an increase of 24 seats. Sinn Féin, who had been fluctuating around 12-20% in the polls throughout the campaign, had their most successful election to date, winning 23 seats, becoming the third largest party in the Dáil. The biggest casualty of the election was the Labour Party, under Tánaiste Joan Burton, which had been the junior party in coalition government with Fine Gael. After winning 37 seats in 2011, the party suffered its worst election in history, losing 30 seats and falling to less than 7% of the total vote. There was mixed fortunes for the newer, smaller parties on Election Day; the Social Democrats maintained the three seats their leaders had won for other political parties in the previous general election, while the Renua party of Lucinda Creighton failed to return any candidates. The Greens recovered from their complete decimation, electing two TDs, while the AAA-PBP increased their number of TDs from 4 to 6. The proportion of women in the Dáil is now at 22 percent, up from 15% in 2011. On March 10th, Enda Kenny formally resigned as Taoiseach, staying on as a caretaker until a new government was formed. The most obvious agreement to reach a majority was a coalition with “the Old Enemy” Fianna Fail, and talks continued throughout April. Finally an agreement was finally reached for a Fine Gael-led minority government, supported issue-by-issue by Michael Martin’s Fianna Fáil party, on 29 April; 63 days after the election. The Dáil formally re-elected Deputy Kenny as Taoiseach on 6 May, becoming the first Taoiseach from Fine Gael to win re-election.

Trump: The 2016 US presidential election came to a surprising end on the 9th of November with victory for Republican Candidate Donald J Trump. The former real estate tycoon and reality TV star defied all the odds, polls, pundits and experts by winning the state of Wisconsin, thus clinching the presidency ahead of the heavily favourited Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The surprise victory for Donald Trump marked an end to a very divisive, polarizing and often bitter campaign unlike any in recent memory. In the end, Trump’s nationalist, anti-globalist, anti-political correctness message appealed to a disenfranchised disillusion “silent majority” who, in turn, propelled him to the White House. On Election night Trump managed to win the key swing states of Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, as well as the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, to finish on 306 Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232. Mr Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President on the 20th of January in Washington DC, despite having lost the overall popular vote. Mike Pence of Indiana will be his Vice President.

Zika Virus: Beginning in April 2015 in Brazil, the Zika Virus epidemic of South and Central America rose to prominence in 2016. In February the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ as evidence grew that Zika can cause birth defects as well as neurological problems. While Zika infections in adults can result in Guillain–Barré syndrome, the real risk was coming from the transmission of the virus from an infected pregnant woman to her foetus, which can cause microcephaly and other severe brain anomalies. The main clinical symptoms in symptomatic patients were fever, conjunctivitis, joint and rash. The virus is spread mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is commonly found throughout the tropical and subtropical Americas. It can also be spread by the Aedes albopictus mosquito, which is distributed as far north as the American border with Canada. A number of countries issued travel warnings throughout the year, while other countries took the unusual step of advising their citizens to delay pregnancy until more is known about the virus. In November 2016 WHO announced the end of the Zika epidemic.

Celebrity Deaths: 2016 has been heralded as the worst year to be a celebrity of any note, as the year has thus-far claimed several well-beloved figures. The deaths started, many would say, with the passing of Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, who actually passed away in late 2015. Lemmy was followed by revolutionary glam-rocker David Bowie, and Die Hard & Harry Potter star Alan Rickman. We’ve compiled a (non-exhaustive) list of beloved actors, musicians and stars who sadly passed on in 2016: David Bowie (musician, actor; Labyrinth), Alan Rickman (actor; Die Hard, Harry Potter series), Phife Dawg (musician; A Tribe Called Quest), Keith Emerson (musician; Emerson, Lake & Palmer), George Martin (music producer; The Beatles), Dan Haggerty (actor; Grizzly Adams), Abe Vigoda (actor; Barney Miller, The Godfather), Glenn Frey (musician; The Eagles), George Kennedy (actor; Cool Hand Luke, the Naked Gun series), Nancy Reagan (actor, First Lady of the United States), Garry Shandling (actor, comedian), Merle Haggard (musician), Doris Roberts (actor; Everybody Loves Raymond), Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, (WWF wrestler, adult film actress), Prince (musician), Gordie Howe (ice-hockey player), Muhammad Ali (gold-medallist & professional boxer), Anton Yelchin (actor; JJ Abrams Star Trek series), Kenny Baker (actor; Star Wars), Gene Wilder (actor; The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka), Arnold Palmer (golfer), Anthony Foley (rugby player & coach), Leonard Cohen (musician), Robert Vaughn (actor), Ron Glass (actor; Barney Miller, Firefly), Fidel Castro (politician; leader of Cuba). We at the UCC Express would like to apologise for anyone we missed in this list, and sincerely hope that no one be added to this list (especially Angela Lansbury).

European Terrorist attacks:  Europe was hit by a number of violent radical Islamic terrorist attacks in 2016. Carrying on from the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan killings in Paris in 2015 that left over 150 dead, Belgium, Germany, France and other European countries were again were victims of terrorist attacks. The first major incident occurred on March 22 of this year, where co-ordinated suicide bombings on the Brussels airport in Zaventem and at the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels killed 32 people and injured hundreds. The perpetrators were closely linked to the group that carried out attacks in Paris some four months earlier. The Islamic State group took credit for the Brussels attacks, and threatened other countries taking part in the anti-IS coalition. France suffered another spate of attacks in 2016, the most notable occurring on Bastille Day in Nice, where a French citizen ploughed a 19 tonne cargo truck into a crowd celebrating the holiday.  84 people were killed and hundreds more were injured. On 16 July, two agencies linked to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed the responsibility for the attack. France’s neighbour, Germany, has also suffered a number of isolated attacks in the past year, most notably on July 22 when an 18-year-old German-Iranian gunman, apparently acting alone, opened fire in a busy shopping mall in Munich. In late July, three suspected Islamic State group suicide bombers targeted the international terminal of Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, killing at least 36 people and wounding many others.