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Year in Review

The year in photos: Images that tell the story of 2021 in Ireland

This year was full of Covid news, sporting success and Wally the walrus.

2021 IS ALMOST finished – like 2020, it seemed to somehow both drag on forever and also be over in a flash.

The Covid-19 pandemic once again dominated the news agenda but it wasn’t the only topic making headlines.

There was also joy for Ireland at the Olympics, protests over various redress schemes, and Wally the walrus captured our attention.

Here’s a roundup of some of the photos that told the story of Ireland in 2021.

Addressing the nation

First up, below is an image the country got very used to seeing during the year – Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressing the nation on the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

Here the Fianna Fáil leader is photographed on those well-known steps outside Government Buildings in Dublin on 16 November.

NO FEE TAOISEACH ADDRESS THE NATION JB9 Julien Behal Photography / Julien Behal Photography / /

During this speech, Martin said the latest Covid surge was “different” because of the success of the country’s vaccination programme, without which we would be in a “full-scale lockdown”.

Earlier that day the Cabinet agreed that pubs, restaurants and nightclubs should have an earlier closing time of midnight. The move to limit the opening hours of hospitality came less than a month after nightclubs had reopened following a 19-month closure.

A month later, the Taoiseach was back on those steps – announcing tougher restrictions.

On 17 December, Martin informed the country that the following week would see pubs, restaurants and other venues close at 8pm.

Cabinet also agreed that the number of spectators attending outdoor or sporting events should be limited to 50% capacity or a maximum of 5,000 people. In terms of indoor events, numbers were limited to 50% capacity or a maximum of 1,000 people.

Cabinet also decided that a maximum of 100 people could attend wedding receptions, which must end at midnight.

Mandatory hotel quarantine

Earlier this year, mandatory hotel quarantine was introduced for people arriving in Ireland from dozens of other countries

arrivals 843 Photo: Sam Boal / Photo: Sam Boal / /

In this photo, taken on 15 April, a member of the Irish Defence Forces escorts passengers from Dublin Airport to awaiting buses to be transferred to hotels for mandatory quarantine.

Olympic joy

In happier news, Kellie Harrington won the gold medal for Ireland in the Boxing Women’s Light Final Bout (57-60kg) at the Tokyo Olympics at the Kokugikan Arena on 8 August, defeating Beatriz Ferreira from Brazil.

tokyo-kanto-japan-8th-aug-2021-kellie-anne-harrington-irl-wins-the-gold-medal-defeating-beatriz-ferreira-bra-in-the-boxing-womens-light-57-60kg-final-bout-during-the-tokyo-2020-olympics-at Paul Kitagaki Jr / ZUMA Press Wire/Alamy Stock Photo Paul Kitagaki Jr / ZUMA Press Wire/Alamy Stock Photo / ZUMA Press Wire/Alamy Stock Photo

Above is a great image capturing the moment Harrington found out she had won. While she was celebrating in Tokyo, her family were overjoyed back in Dublin.

The below image shows (from left to right) her father Christy Harrington, mother Yvonne Harrington and brother Christopher Harrington celebrating outside the family home in the north inner city.

Harrington got a hero’s welcome when she returned to Dublin on 10 August.

the-family-of-irish-boxer-kellie-harrington-left-to-right-father-christy-harrington-mother-yvonne-harrington-and-brother-christopher-harrington-celebrate-outside-the-family-home-in-dublin-after-ke PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

Mica protests 

After years of campaigning, and fresh protests in 2021, the Government announced a support package for people whose homes are affected by mica, a defective building material that has caused the foundations to crack.

In one demonstration, on 30 September, protesters gathered outside Leinster House. The below image shows eight-year-old Savannah Diver, daughter of mica activist Paddy Diver, holding a mica-affected building block taken from a home in Donegal.

mica 522 Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

The redress package, announced by Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien on 30 November, will be capped at €420,000 per home and cover an estimated 7,500 homes, at a total cost of €2.2 billion.

Homeowners will be entitled to €145 per square foot on the first 1,000 feet of their property, with the figure dropping to €110 per square foot for the second 1,000 feet and €100 per foot for the remainder.

Campaigners and opposition politicians have criticised this sliding scale, saying homeowners will be forced to find up to €65,000 to make up for shortfalls in the scheme.

Below are images from a protest on 8 October of this year, where people demanded 100% redress for all those affected by the mica crisis. Protestors marched from the Garden of Remembrance to the Custom House in Dublin.

2489 Mica Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

2537 Mica Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

Mother and Baby Homes

Another much-discussed redress plan was the long-awaited scheme for survivors of Mother and Baby Homes and similar institutions.

The scheme was finally announced by the Government on 16 November, 10 months after the publication of the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes on 12 January.

The findings contained in this report, including an apparent lack of evidence of forced adoption, incarceration and discrimination – despite testimony contradicting this, were heavily criticised by survivors, campaigners and legal experts.

an-image-of-a-nun-concealing-a-skeleton-is-projected-onto-sean-ross-abbey-south-of-roscrea-in-county-tipperary-ireland-on-st-brigidos-day-for-the-herstory-light-show-when-landmarks-across-ireland PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

Above is an image of a nun concealing a skeleton that was projected onto Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea in County Tipperary as part of the Herstory Light Show on St Brigid’s Day, 1 February.

Below is a photograph of Maria Arbuckle, a survivor of St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, speaking at a protest against the redress scheme outside Leinster House on 23 November.

Mother and baby 003 Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

Some of the major sticking points for survivors include the fact that payments are linked to the amount of time a mother spent in an institution, and that children who spent fewer than six months in an institution are excluded from the scheme despite the ongoing impact and trauma it has on many people’s lives.

As reported by The Journal in November, Arbuckle reunited with her son in March – just before his 40th birthday. He now plans to take legal action against the State over his exclusion from the redress scheme.

NPHET briefings

Members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are now household names in Ireland.

NPHET brief 005 Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

Another image that remained very familiar this year was of a certain three men sitting at a table: Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group; Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health; and Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health.

The above NPHET trio were pictured on 22 April at the latest Covid-19 press briefing in the Department of Health. At this point, high-level restrictions were still in place.

On this particular date, 617 new cases of the virus and 10 further deaths (across the previous four months) were confirmed.

By-election blues

Former University College Dublin professor Dolores Cahill was refused entry into the RDS count centre for the Dublin Bay South by-election on 9 July.

Cahill was running as an independent candidate in the election but was refused entry by gardaí because she would not wear a face mask.

Byelection Count 018 Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

Cahill’s interaction with gardaí was filmed and widely shared online. She attempted to make a citizen’s arrest of Sergeant Hugh Shovlin, who refuted a number of misleading claims she made.

Cahill obtained 169 first-preference votes before being eliminated on the third count in the race which was won by Labour’s Ivana Bacik.

Byelection Count 013 Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

In her election leaflet, Cahill made a number of misleading claims about Covid-19 vaccines and deaths associated with vaccine clinical trials.

In December, Facebook shut down Cahill’s account because she repeatedly spread misinformation about Covid-19.

Wally the walrus

The arrival of an Arctic walrus off the coast of West Cork in August drew flocks of onlookers to the area, keen to catch sight of the animal that usually resides in much colder climates.

Below is a photo of Wally, as he was nicknamed, in Crookhaven on 18 August.

crookhaven-west-cork-ireland-18th-aug-2021-the-arctic-walrus-which-people-have-named-wally-has-been-spotted-again-in-west-cork-this-time-in-crookhaven-the-walrus-is-drawing-a-big-crowd-of-onl The Arctic Walrus, which people named Wally, pictured in Crookhaven in West Cork in August Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

While most people watched Wally from the shore, some went to greater lengths to get up close and personal with the animal, by pulling up boats beside him.

In one instance, Pádraig Whooley, Sightings Officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, said he even saw a woman hop onto a boat where the tusked marine mammal was resting.

“I think what happened was, she saw that, all of a sudden, it wasn’t the cute, quizzical-looking, comical face of Wally the Walrus. It was a big mammal that was the size of a bull,” Whooley said.

Whooley urged people to behave responsibly and stay well away from the walrus.

“If the animal is visible from the shore, watch him from the shore. Leave the boats behind. You’re potentially just making a bad situation more difficult for the animal. And you’re also putting yourself at risk,” he said.

In September, Wally was apparently making his way back to the Arctic after being reportedly spotted in Iceland following his holiday in Europe.

What are some of the standout images of the year, in your opinion? Let us know in the comments.

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