2012 at a glance


January:An Italian cruise-ship captain achieves international notoriety when the ship he is in command of, the Costa Concordia, runs on to rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio. A total of 32 passengers die and Capt Francesco Schettino is pilloried for abandoning ship before a rescue could be conducted.

Seán Quinn, who was formerly Ireland’s richest man, accuses IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, of having a vendetta against him after it moves to have his Northern Irish bankruptcy overturned. Quinn is later declared bankrupt by the High Court in Dublin.

In Cork the close-knit fishing community of Union Hall is left grieving when the Tit Bonhomme sinks in stormy seas with the loss of five of the six crew members. President Michael D Higgins later says the story of the Tit Bonhomme enveloped the people of Ireland, its crew and the people of Union Hall.


It is reported the Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South Central, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, used more than €50,000 worth of printer cartridges from the Dáil in a two-year period. Ó Snodaigh defends his use of the ink, saying it was for printing party leaflets.

Public figures such as Alex Ferguson, Cillian Murphy and Paul McGrath support former Vita Cortex workers, of whom 32 are sitting-in in a campaign for redundancy entitlements at the former foam-packaging factory. The sit-in continues until May.

The EU and IMF provide Greece with a second financial package, of €130 billion. Under the agreement, Greece’s private creditors will take more losses. The bailout package hopes to cut its national debt to 120 per cent of GDP by 2020.


The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland upholds a complaint made by former presidential candidate Seán Gallagher concerning the Frontline presidential debate broadcast on RTÉ television.

The Encyclopedia Britannica goes out of print after 244 years. Future editions of the encyclopaedia will be available exclusively online.

The Mahon Tribunal finds former taoiseach Bertie Ahern failed to truthfully account for a number of financial transactions in the 1990s. Ahern resigns from Fianna Fáil before the party can oust him, as does Pádraig Flynn, who the tribunal found had corruptly sought and received a payment from the developer Tom Gilmartin in 1989.

Reports suggest that about 50 per cent of households, or 800,000 nationwide, sign up for the obligatory household charge by the March 31st deadline.

The results of Census 2011 reveal an increasingly diverse Ireland with 766,770 residents born outside the country, 25 per cent more than in 2006, and 514,068 who speak a foreign language at home. The number of divorced people, 87,770, is a 150 per cent rise on the 2002 figure.


The Government dismisses suggestions senior Ministers are sending out “mixed messages” about the State’s funding in the event of a No vote in the fiscal treaty referendum.

The Garda­ calls for tighter controls for criminals on the sex offenders’ register to enable gardaí to monitor them more closely. The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) puts forward ideas for a tighter regime to keep track of offenders who have been released from prison but remain on the register of sex offenders.

During his trial for killing 77 people in Norway in 2011, Anders Behring Breivik (left) says he would do it again. Breivik’s trial ends in June and, in August, he is classed as sane and sentenced to 21 years in prison, though he is likely to spend the rest of his life in jail.


Cardinal Seán Brady successfully resists intense pressure to resign after a BBC television programme alleges he failed to act in 1975 when a sex abuse survivor provided him with a list of children being abused by Fr Brendan Smyth.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland fines RTÉ €200,000 after a Prime Time Investigates programme defamed Fr Kevin Reynolds. Reporter Aoife Kavanagh later resigns; others involved in the production change duties or retire.

Occupy Galway becomes the last Occupy camp in the country to be dismantled by the Garda. The international movement had begun the previous year but slowly lost momentum. Similar demonstrations in Dublin and Cork had already been broken up by the time the handful of Galway protestors were moved on.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, welcomes the Irish endorsement of the European Fiscal Stability Treaty, calling it “good news for Ireland and good news for Europe”.


Thousands of people turn up to welcome Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (right) to Dublin. During her half-day visit to the capital, Suu Kyi formally signs the Roll of Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin in Grand Canal Square.

The Wexford Independent TD Mick Wallace resigns from the technical group of TDs following the failure of his construction firm, MJ Wallace Ltd, to make full tax returns on apartment sales. Wallace makes a €2.1 million settlement with the Revenue Commissioners.

Although the Irish soccer team fails to go beyond group stages in Euro 2012, Irish fans are recognised with a special tribute for being the best supporters during the competition. The award is dedicated to fan James Nolan who drowned while at the tournament in Poznan.

The Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness (above right), shakes hands with Queen Elizabeth during her two-day visit to Northern Ireland. Despite Sinn Féin protests during her visit in 2011, McGuinness now welcomes her with “fáilte romhat”.


The international science community hails the announcement by CERN physicists of the likely discovery of the Higgs boson particle – the last missing particle in the Standard Model, a theory that seeks to explain all the forces of nature.

Event promoter MCD defends its handling of a Swedish House Mafia concert in the Phoenix Park (right), which saw two fans die of suspected drug overdoses, six stabbed and 40 treated in hospital. The Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, says security was inadequate.

The UN special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, admits that the international community’s efforts to find a political resolution to the country’s conflict have failed. In August he resigns.

The 2012 Olympic Games kick off in London and run until August 12th, and are followed by the Paralympics. A sprawling Olympic village in the city’s east end plays host to thousands of athletes and spectators during a particularly successful year for Irish boxing.


An estimated 20,000 people turn out to welcome Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor home to Bray. Similar homecomings welcome Ireland’s other Olympians.

Three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot are sentenced to two years in jail for their protest against Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a church in February. Hundreds of supporters outside the Moscow court cry “shame” as the verdict becomes known.

Cardinal Seán Brady suggests another referendum on abortion is possibly the only solution to the issue. His comments come as Catholic bishops and priests plan a full-scale campaign against abortion.

Former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews resigns from the party after being unmasked as an anonymous tweeter who posted highly critical comments about his leader Micheál Martin and other party figures.


A crude Youtube film, Innocence of Muslims, shot in Hollywood, leads to attacks on American diplomatic missions, including in Libya where US ambassador J Christopher Stevens is among the casualties.

In Dublin masked gunmen fire a volley of shots over the coffin of the murdered Real IRA member Alan Ryan.

The Irish Daily Star provokes the ire of its UK-based joint owner after it publishes photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless. The chairman of Northern and Shell, Richard Desmond, threatens to close the paper. The pictures originally appeared in a French magazine.

Junior health minister Róisín Shortall resigns her position citing a “lack of support for the reforms in the programme for Government and the values that underpin it”.


Taoiseach Enda Kenny makes the cover of Time magazine with accompanying headline declaring: “The Celtic Comeback”. Later in the month, Kenny is announced as the winner of a prestigious “European of the Year” award.

A motion to introduce same-sex marriage in the North is narrowly defeated in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Despite the result, equality campaigners hail the closeness of the vote as evidence of changed times.

Allegations of sexual assault by the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile come to light. The BBC director general, George Entwistle, resigns over the controversy.

Hurricane Sandy kills more than 70 people in the Caribbean and 109 people in the US. Damage caused by the storm is likely to cost more than $50 billion to repair.


The US president Barack Obama sees off his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in a long and vitriolic race for the White House.

Two days ahead of the children’s referendum, the Supreme Court finds that the Government’s information campaign is biased and thus breaches the 1995 McKenna judgement. The plebiscite still goes ahead, about one-third of the electorate turns out and the amendment is endorsed by an underwhelming majority of 58 per cent.

News of the death of Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital spreads around the world and reopens the bitterly divisive abortion debate at home.

Israel and Hamas agree a ceasefire following a week-long escalation in hostilities in Southern Israel and the Gaza Strip. A week later the UN General Assembly grants Palestine non-member observer status. Israel responds by extending illegal settlement building in the West Bank.


Minister for Finance Michael Noonan presents Ireland’s sixth austerity budget. Budget 2013 cuts child benefit by €10, reduces a grant for carers by €325, increases third level fees by €250 a year and abolishes unvouched expenses for TDs. Protests are held outside the Dáil during the day.

Kate Middleton and Prince William, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, announce they are expecting a child, who will be third in line to the throne. The news is announced after Middleton is taken to the King Edward VII hospital in central London, suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a very acute form of morning sickness.

In Connecticut, Adam Lanza shoots his mother and goes to Sandy Hook elementary school, where he shoots 20 first-graders, six of their teachers, and himself.

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