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These were the 15 'biggest things' to happen in 2017

Here’s the list, according to Irish people.

Kevin Cunningham

2017 WAS SOME year – packed with highs and lows. But what were the biggest things to happen over the last 12 months?

To find out, research firm Ireland Thinks identified and surveyed Irish people.

We asked them an open-ended question: What did they feel was the ‘biggest thing’ that happened in 2017?

So here follows a countdown of the top 20 ‘biggest things’ that happened, according to a nationally representative survey of 1,144 Irish citizens.

1. Brexit (29.9% of people)

Review of the Year 2017 Theresa May pictured in Wolverhampton in May. Source: Steve Parsons

It’s no surprise to see Brexit top of the list – it’s been a year where the British exit from Europe has dominated many headlines. And as the negotiations continue, this won’t be changing anytime soon.

2. Trump’s inauguration and first year in charge (22.1%)

Review of the Year 2017 Source: Niall Carson

Another one that isn’t surprising – Trump himself dominated the headlines and social media throughout 2017. And when he didn’t like the headlines, he let us know.

3. Homelessness crisis (9.8%)

Homeless in Ireland Source: PA Wire/PA Images

The level of homelessness in Ireland has been a constant concern this year – and an issue that the Irish government has been much criticised over.

4. Hurricane Ophelia (and US leaving climate change agreement) (6.6%)

ESB CREWS 758A7473_90527284 Source: Eamonn Farrell

The amount of damage Ophelia inflicted on the country was significant – though Met Éireann did warn us we were in for a severe weather event. And on a related topic, the issue of the US leaving the Paris climate change agreement was of much concern to people.

5. Varadkar as Taoiseach (4.9%)

56 Bliain na Gaeilge launch_90532607

Leo Varadkar became Taoiseach, succeeding Enda Kenny. And after setting up his own communications unit, it was clear that he was going to dominate headlines whenever he could.

6. All Ireland GAA (4.9%)

90431189_90431189 ayo fans decorate their house on Griffith Avenue in Dublin ahead of the Dublin Vs Mayo - All Ireland Senior Final replay in Croke Park. Source: Sam Boal

By far the most popular sporting event according to those surveyed was: Galway winning in the hurling and Mayo losing in football.

7. Debate on abortion (3.8%)

8th 403_90532575 The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment. Source: Sam Boal

This, of course, was due to the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment set to be held next year, and the meetings of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

8. Election that wasn’t, Francis Fitzgerald resigning and the Garda controversies (3.0%)

19/6/2016. Paternity Leave Bill. L to R. Taniste a

An issue that ran throughout the entire year, starting with the whistleblower scandal. What people remember most is how it ended (or has it really ended?) with the election that wasn’t – and the resignation from Cabinet of Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

9. Terrorist attacks (2.8%)

Review of the Year 2017 Source: Dominic Lipinski

The London and Manchester bombings featured heavily here, as people remembered these attacks. The shootings in Las Vegas were also remembered.

10. North Korea escalation (2.5%)

North Korea Sanctions Kim Jong Un Source: AP/Press Association Images

The escalation of tensions between North Korea and the USA took a few twists and turns this year, but thankfully didn’t quite reach the conclusion some feared.

11. Fire in Grenfell Tower (1.6%)

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Review of the Year 2017 Source: Natalie Oxford

The fire in Grenfell Tower due to cladding issues was one of this year’s most shocking news stories.

12. Same-sex marriages taking place (1.1%)

Same-sex marriages are still recognised as being a big event, two years after the referendum.

13. Health crisis (0.9%)

File Photo File Photo There has been an incident at the Poolbeg Incinerator. 11 people were taken to St Vincents hospital. End.. Source: Sam Boal

The ongoing health crisis remains in focus for some, particularly the scandals around waiting lists.

14. Tracker mortgages scandal (0.8%)

24/10/2017 Bankers Called To Minister For Finance over Tracker Mortgage Controversies Ulster Bank Chief Executive Gerry Mallon arriving the Department of Finance after being called there over the tracker mortgage issues.

The tracker mortgages scandal captured lots of people’s attention this year, as bankers were brought before the Department of Finance to explain how it all went wrong.

15. Ireland out of World Cup (0.8%)

90313359_90313359 Ireland fans George Downes, Ray Downes, Anto Bermingham and Davy Keogh of the Ballybrack Seagulls supporters group return home from Austria after the national team's 1-0 defeat. Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Enough said.

Other events mentioned more than once but which didn’t quite make the top 15 include (3.6%):

  • Syrian crisis
  • Robert Mugabe deposed
  • Ryanair scandals
  • The death of Martin McGuinness
  • The Catalonian independence referendum
  • Myanmar refugee crisis
  • The opening of the National Gallery
  • The new Cross City Luas line
  • Khloe Kardashian’s pregnancy

Other sporting events that were mentioned but didn’t make the top 15 (1.0%):

  • Katie Taylor’s fight
  • McGregor’s fight
  • Women’s rugby
  • Champions League final
  • Cheltenham
  • Celtic getting beaten

Dr Kevin Cunningham is a Lecturer at DIT and managing director of Ireland Thinks.

About the author:

Kevin Cunningham

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