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Dublin: 15 °C Friday 29 August, 2014

Back to work: Here are the stories you missed over Christmas and New Year

Many of us are returning to work for the first time tomorrow following the festive period. Here is a round-up of the news stories you may have missed. You are welcome.

An Indian protester holds a placard during a protest against the gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi in December.
An Indian protester holds a placard during a protest against the gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi in December.
Image: Altaf Qadri/AP/Press Association Images

WHILE SOME OF us were back in work last week and others were working over Christmas and New Year including us here in TheJournal.ie towers there are plenty of you out there who will only be returning to work, school, or college today.

If you’re among them then chances are you may have tuned out of the news while you had your fill of turkey, ham, pudding, sherry and what not over the Christmas and New Year.

Of course we’d like to think that you were constantly checking your phone for the latest updates on TheJournal.ie but we know that may not be the case so here are the news stories you missed over the festive break…

The big stories

The brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student in India on 16 December got worldwide attention and led to protests across India at the brutal treatment of the woman who died in hospital in Singapore just before the turn of the year.

There were calls for a new laws and a new attitude to the treatment of women in the second-most populous country in the world. But the as-yet unidentified woman’s case also struck a chord here in Ireland.

Indian students participate in a protest following the gang rape of a medical student in mid-December which has sparked a countrywide sustained campaign to change society’s views about women. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

The other big story of the Christmas break was the so-called fiscal cliff as politicians in the US wrangled over a deal to avert automatic spending cuts and tax increases that were due to come into effect on 1 January.

We explained it all here but in the end the US did officially go over the cliff although a provisional agreement reached in the early hours of New Year’s Day averted many of the most significant tax increases and kicked the can down the road to February when they’ll do it all again.

The death of Minister of State Shane McEntee just before the Christmas break came as a shock to the political world and the country as a whole. McEntee was laid to rest on Christmas Eve.

The release of the State papers from 1982 brought revelations about the Falklands Warabortion, the impact the IRA bombing campaign had on Guinness, a gift for Charlie Haughey and a strongly-worded letter for the then Taoiseach.

Perhaps surprisingly, there was no mention of the notorious GUBU scandal that rocked the country in ’82.

But the reference to Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis in declassified British documents meant he had to deal with allegations that he was linked to as many as 50 murders carried out by the IRA during the Troubles.

Former taoiseach Charlie Haughey was back in the news again over the Christmas break (Photocall Ireland)

Ireland took over the presidency of the EU with much pomp and ceremony at Dublin Castle but to underline the austere nature of this presidency the government confirmed that politicians and diplomats would be flying Ryanair.

Though this didn’t really soften the blow of Budget 2013 measures which kicked in on 1 January.

However, there was more positive news from the Exchequer figures for 2012 with the deficit falling to under €15 billion last year.

The death of Christopher Warren, who was shot and dropped at the Emergency Department of St James’s Hospital, led to an ongoing garda investigation.

An attempted bomb attack on the car of an off-duty PSNI officer in east Belfast was foiled but the death of a 19-year-old Monaghan man Jason McGovern following two separate assualts in Omagh drew condemnation and an investigation is under way.

The facts and stats

The number of deaths on Irish roads fell to record low of 161 in 2012.

The number of people visiting the country was more or less the same as in 2011.

The number of visa applications rose by six per cent.

Luas journeys were up to nearly 30 million in 2012.

The number of people  travelling on the Luas tram service in Dublin rose last year (Albert Gonzalez/Photocall Ireland)

We learned that 2012 was the busiest year for the Dáil in its history.

The last bondholder payment of 2012 saw nearly €40 million paid out the bondholders in Bank of Ireland bringing to over €20 billion the amount that has been paid out in bondholder payments in 2012, mostly by State-owned banks.

We learned that beer is not a food as it apparently had been in Russia until recently.

And 38.4 is the age at which people in Ireland are at their saddest, apparently.

Rest of the world

The number of deaths in Syria during the country’s civil war is now estimated to be at 60,000, far higher than previously thought and with no sign of the conflict ending.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela was discharged from hospital after a three week stay.

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also hospitalised after the discovery of a blood clot near her brain but she was also discharged in recent days.

There are continued concerns about Venezuela president Hugo Chavez who is being treated for cancer and apparently suffering from ‘respiratory insufficiency’ leading to concerns about his future as the country’s president.

Where’s Hugo? Mystery surrounds the health status of the Venezuelan president with just days to go before his inauguration (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

A priest in Italy caused outrage when he said that women bring sexual and physical violence on themselves by dressing provocatively and neglecting housework.

Also in Italy, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi settled with his ex-wife, agreeing to pay her €3 million per month as part of a separation deal.

A woman was charged with hate crime after she allegedly pushed a man in front of an oncoming New York subway train.

US relations with Russia were hampered by the signing of a bill which banned Americans from adopting Russian children in a retaliatory move for America’s imposition of sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators.

The US Congress re-elected House Speaker John Boehner for another term but not before he got a smackdown from New Jersey governor and fellow Republican Chris Christie.

RIP

As well as the passing of Shane McEntee, there were a number of other people who passed away over the Christmas period including the poet Dennis O’Driscoll and the journalist Arthur Quinlan.

Ireland’s oldest citizen Mary Kate Byrne died at the grand old age of 108.

There was shock at the sudden death of Irish climber Ian McKeever who was struck by lightning on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Ian McKeever with his godson Sean McSharry in an undated photo (Press Association)

Murdered vet Catherine Gowing was laid to rest in her native Offaly.

Elsewhere in the world the famous American general Norman ‘Stormin Norman’ Schwarzkopf passed away while Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson also died.

Any other business

The weather was wet and windy but not cold and snowy.

With that kind of weather perhaps it’s little wonder that it was revealed that the item most likely to be stolen from Irish pharmacies was fake tan.

Fianna Fáil confirmed that the ownership of St Luke’s, Bertie Ahern’s former headquarters, had been transferred back into the ownership of the party.

But there was mystery surrounding the ownership of a phone call from Leinster House which cost a whopping €95.

Seán Quinn was released from prison temporarily over Christmas before he came out altogether on 3 January and said he felt he should not have been there in the first place.

Seán Quinn at a rally in Co Cavan held for his and his family’s benefit last year, prior to him being imprisoned for contempt of court (Photocall Ireland)

Rory McIlroy had to deny rumours that he had got engaged to his tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki but raised the prospect that he won’t compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness resigned as a Westminster MP but in doing so took on the sort of aristocratic job title he wouldn’t usually go for.

Speaking of people who resigned, former junior minister and thorn in Labour’s side Róisín Shortall gave an interview in which she did not rule out a leadership heave against Eamon Gilmore.

And finally, a question: Was this the worst New Year’s Eve live broadcast of all time?

Read: 11 crazes we went wild for in 2012

Read: ‘A logistical, logarithmic progression’ : The year in 46 quotes

Read: 2012: a year in political pictures

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