We continue to count down the 100 most significant moments in the decade. You can submit your choices for most memorable moments in our comments section below.
40 IRELAND’S LARGEST RESTAURANT
This year saw the opening of Ireland's largest restaurant, the Bengal Brasserie, on Belfast's Lisburn Road. It is regarded as a sign of Northern Ireland's emerging confidence in the post-conflict era that it should be host to the biggest restaurant on the island, with 164 seats at any one time, especially when other parts of the island are experiencing a fall in consumer confidence. The restaurant represents a £2m investment.
39 GAA BAN ON POLICE DROPPED
In November 2001, the GAA dropped one of its most controversial rules, the ban on police or members of the British Army playing gaelic games. Rule 21 was abolished at a special congress in Dublin by a three to one majority. Given the heritage of the Troubles, not surprisingly five out of the six Northern Ireland counties voted to retain the ban. The move was welcomed by Michael McGimpsey, then the Minister for Sport in the power
sharing Executive in Northern Ireland who described it as “another step toward building an all-inclusive society in Northern Ireland”. The move was welcomed by politicians north and south of the border and also by the Catholic Church which has lobbied for its abolition. It was seen as a positive move in helping the recruitment of young Catholic men to the police force. After the abolition of Rule 21 the PSNI formed its own gaelic football team which played the Gardai and New York police.
38 A LANDMARK YEAR FOR PAISLEY
2008 proved a landmark year in the life of the Rev Ian Paisley. In January he stood down from the post of Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church and later in the year he resigned from the posts of First Minister and leader of the DUP. He led the DUP for nearly 40 years and was seen by many people as the driving force behind the party. His long time deputy Peter Robinson was elected to both the leadership of the DUP and to the post of First Minister after Dr Paisley's resignation. Although Dr Paisley retained his North Antrim seat as both MLA and MP, 2008 was the year when his political influence waned. For more than 40 years he had been the voice of dissident unionism, yet he will probably be remembered as the man who finally brokered a deal with his greatest enemies, Sinn Fein, enabling the return of a power-sharing adminstration to Northern Ireland.
37 ULSTER’S FIRST SEXTUPLETS BORN
Tyrone woman Nuala Conway became a mum in 4.5 million on May 22 this year when she gave birth to sextuplets in Belfast's Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital. The babies, all conceived naturally to Nuala and her husband Austin, were the first sextuplets born in Northern Ireland. Eight weeks later tragedy struck the family when the last born of the sextuplets, Kerrie, died suddenly and unexpectedly.
36 STONE TRIES TO STORM ASSEMBLY
One of Northern Ireland's most notorious terrorists, Michael Stone, tried to storm Stormont in November 2006. He was trapped in the revolving door at the building’s entrance and overpowered by security officers. In 2008 he was jailed for 16 years for the escapade. He was found guilty of attempting to kill Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at the Assembly as well as possession of nail bombs, a garotte, three knives and an axe.
35 HISTORIC IRISH CRICKET VICTORY
In March 2007 Ireland produced one of the biggest shocks ever in cricket history by defeating Pakistan in the sport's world cup in the West Indies. The Irish team beat Pakistan by three wickets sending them tumbling out of the competition. The star of the game was Irish wicket keeper Niall O'Brien who hit 72 runs out of a total of 128. At the time Pakistan were ranked fourth in the world.
34 MONTY’S PASS WINS NATIONAL
In April 2003 Monty's Pass landed some monster bets when it strolled to victory in the Grand National by 12 lengths. Owned by legendary Bangor punter Mike Futter, who owned a string of bingo halls, the horse was backed at all prices from the original SP of 66/1, eventually winning at 12/1. Futter was later said to have won nearly £1m in bets on the horse bought for a mere €35,000 in the Republic.
33 £400M SHOPPING CENTRE OPENS
Victoria Square shopping complex in the heart of Belfast is one of the most expensive property developments ever undertaken in Northern Ireland. It cost £400m and is anchored by department store House of Fraser. It also includes residential and leisure facilities as well as high end shopping. The complex (above) opened in March 2008 just as the recession began to bite and it has seen a number of tenants close since then. It was designed to mimic traditional streets rather than the normal enclosed mall and is regarded as one of the most impressive retail complexes in the United Kingdom. Its dome gives views over the city and is an attraction in itself. Around 3,000 workers were involved in the construction of the complex and another 3,000 are employed in the retail outlets and services associated with the centre.
32 ADAIR FLEES NORTHERN IRELAND
In February 2003 one of Northern Ireland's most notorious loyalist terrorists, Johnny Adair, fled to Scotland after the UDA turned on him. A short time earlier terrorists aligned to Adair had shot dead John Gregg, one of the UDA's brigadiers and a member of the organisation's inner council. Adair had been critical of the UDA leadership,but the killing of Gregg was a step too far. Adair was expelled from the UDA leadership in September 2002.
31 SDLP LEADER JOHN HUME RETIRES
In 2004 John Hume announced his retirement from politics in Northern Ireland. It ended the career of a man who was arguably the most influential politician in the province’s history. A founder member of the SDLP, he did what no other nationalist leader had achieved — brought Northern Ireland’s problems to an international stage. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998.