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Revealed: our hopes, dreams and resolutions for the next 12 months


Pamela Ballantine

Pamela Ballantine

Claire Hanna

Claire Hanna

Actor Paddy Jenkins

Actor Paddy Jenkins

Frank Mitchell

Frank Mitchell

Gerry Carroll

Gerry Carroll

Pamela Ballantine

As 2017 begins, Kerry McKittrick talks to some well-known faces about what they are wishing for this year.

Alison Clarke is the director of ACA Models and runs the Miss Northern Ireland competition. She has two grown-up sons and two stepsons and is married to golfer Darren Clarke.  She says:

2016 has been a successful year for me and for my agency ACA Models. I celebrated 30 years of organising the Miss Northern Ireland contest and I can look back with fondness at those 30 diverse winners, each one of them inspirational and beautiful with their own individualities and qualities.

As well as my own company, I also had the role of being the 2016 European Ryder Cup lady captain, which brought a lot of organising.

There were choices to be made, travel, new friendships and the continued support of my amazing husband, Darren. Though the result did not go Europe's way in the Ryder Cup I was very, very proud of Darren and the huge effort, commitment, time and sportsmanship he invested in the whole event.

Each year is always a new chapter in my book of life. 2017 will see Philip and Stuart reach 25 and 30 and Tyrone and Conor sit their A-levels and GCSE exams - a big year for all four of my boys! Tyrone is off to Lynn University in Florida in August.

My parents also have significant birthdays in 2017 so there will more celebrations there!

At ACA we're welcoming two new members of staff in January and hopefully we'll continue to see the business prosper and grow. Most of all though, I wish good health and happiness to all. Your health is your wealth."

Mike Nesbitt (59) is the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. He lives in Belfast with his wife, TV presenter Lynda Bryans and they have two sons, PJ (20) and Christopher (18). He says:

Personally, it's been a good year. Having our eldest son PJ return from his year out in America was good and we saw our younger son Christopher start at Bath University. Lynda and I also managed to take the first summer holiday that was just the two of us in 20 years - I think you could say without exaggeration there were two quite nervous people at the airport, but in the end it was a roaring success.

I loved watching the Euros - I used to be a football commentator and when Northern Ireland played their first match against Poland it was 30 years to the day since they had last played in a major finals and I was the one commentating. I was delighted to hand the baton over to Joel Taggart.

I'm going to have to come up with something special in 2017, because it's our 25th wedding anniversary. Lynda took me to New York and proposed in the Russian Tea Rooms on February 29 and we got married in Hawaii, so the bar is set quite high."

Claire Bailey (46) is an MLA and deputy leader of the Northern Ireland Green Party. She has two children, Brian (21) and Jude (19). She says:

For me, 2017 will be an ever changing year. On an international scale we will have Donald Trump taking office as the President of the United States, which will certainly cause ripples. I'm also very concerned about the refugee crisis and the wars that are happening in the Middle East.

On a more local level we have Brexit and Article 50 being triggered, so I am looking forward to hearing Theresa May's plans.

I'm still trying to get my constituency office open, which is a big goal for 2017. I'm also bringing legislation on domestic violence and talking to the Assembly. Personally I'm hoping to give up smoking - I've said it so many times, but I really mean it this time.

And I want to make it to Italy. My dad suddenly died just a few weeks after the election this year and it put a whole lot of things into perspective. I have a whole lot of Italian heritage and I plan to visit there and see where I came from for the first time in 2017."

Sara O'Neill (34), a designer and stylist best-known for Eadach, her collection of printed silk scarves, is the Belfast Telegraph's Woman of the Year in fashion. She lives in Portrush with her fiance, international big wave surfer Al Mennie. She says:

The incoming year will be busy for me, as I'll have new collections for spring and summer. I'm also showing at the Arc Show at the RDS in Dublin. I'm delighted to have been shortlisted for the fashion collection prize at the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards. I'm also planning to do more things with Brown Thomas. I'll be keeping up my styling and shoots and shows, too. Al and I still hope to get married in 2017 - it's about time we got around to that!

Finally, I want 2017 to finally be the year that I learn to drive - now that I've put that wish in the newspaper I'm really going to have to stick to it!"

Emma Little Pengelly (36) is a DUP MLA. She lives in Belfast with her husband Richard. She says:

Politically we have some really good initiatives coming up in 2017 under the all-party group on educational achievement. Hopefully I will be introducing legislation on animal cruelty here - I've spoken to a lot of animal welfare groups and low sentencing is a big issue that a lot of people are concerned about.

My general hopes for 2017 are that people stay healthy and happy - I think if you have that, then everything else will fall into place."

Stewart Dickson (65) is an Alliance Party MLA and lives in Greenisland with his wife Sandra. He says:

A scandal-free year in 2017 would be great, one where we perhaps reinstate a little integrity into political life in Northern Ireland. I think that's possible, because with Naomi Long as the new Alliance Party leader we have seen an incredible increase in people wanting to join the party, even here in east Antrim. I think it's a sign that people genuinely want to take this community forward.

Other than that, I didn't get my wish for a white Christmas, so instead I hope to spend the start of the new year walking along the beach with my wife, preferably in Donegal."

Goalkeeper Michael McGovern (32) plays for Norwich City and the Northern Ireland football team. He was hailed as one of the heroes of this summer's European Championships. He is married to Leann and the couple have two children, Kieran and daughter Megan. He says:

There's no major tournaments coming up in 2017, so it might be a bit quieter than 2016. I'm looking forward to the Northern Ireland games in March and June and I'm hoping that my club, Norwich, get promoted and we get back into the Premier League - I would really enjoy that.

Of course I'd like to win all the games with Northern Ireland and qualify for the World Cup, which would be fantastic after the Euros. Our last game is in October or November and I think we have a good chance - we'll just have to wait and see.

My little daughter Megan is eight months old so I'm looking forward to seeing her start to crawl - we know what stages to expect thanks to Kieran, but it's lovely to see your children grow and develop."

Pamela Ballantine (58) lives in Belfast and is the host of UTV Life on Friday evenings. She says:

I don't believe in New Year resolutions, so I don't have any particular aspirations for the coming year. I will say that I'm delighted that my chat show UTV Life has been recommissioned for 2017, so I'm very much looking forward to looking forward to working on the next 48 episodes. I'm also looking forward to going to the races at Down Royal. That's always a good day out and a lot of fun."

Claire Hanna (36) is an SDLP MLA. She lives in Belfast with her husband Donal and they have two children, Eimear (4) and Aideen (2). She says:

I thought that 2016 was such a terrible year - Syria unfolded in front of us and then there was Brexit and Trump. Stormont hasn't been delivering, particularly in the last couple of months, and I've felt a real detachment from people in politics.

Things can only get better though - because of all that has happened I think we'll see a lot more people moved into action. There are no elections scheduled for 2017, but we're expecting our third child in the spring. It will be a different experience, as I'm an MLA now and will have to juggle politics with a new baby."

Actor Paddy Jenkins (52) is best known for his roles in the pantomime at the Grand Opera House in Belfast. He is married to Geraldine and they have four children, Patrick (28), Nicole (25), Ryan (24) and Aaron (14). He says:

"The big event in our family is that my son Patrick is getting married in Co Kildare in the summer, so the whole family is gearing up for that.

My wife Geraldine and I will also be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in 2017. We're both terrible at remembering it, but I think we'll have to do something for it. It's a work in progress at the moment though.

Personally I'm already looking forward to next Christmas and Peter Pan at the Opera House. I'm not taking anything for granted, but I've been part of the pantomime at the Grand Opera House for a long time now and I'm hoping that I will get to take part in it - it's my favourite panto. It's a long way away, but the panto is the highlight of my year.

We're right in the middle of panto season right now, but when that finishes in January we'll spend some time together as a family. My daughter has booked a trip for us all to Donegal and I think there's a trip to Liverpool planned, too. I've been before, but this time I'm planning on doing all of the Beatles sights as I've always been a huge fan of theirs."

Frank Mitchell presents the Frank Mitchell Phone-In on U105 each weekday morning. He says:

"For me, 2016 will go down as a busy, vibrant year. It was fast-moving, but that's a real sign of being over 50. My daughter Laura is living in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and during the year I properly acquainted myself with the 'Geordies' in 'The Toon'. It's a wonderful city. The year of worldwide change kept us buzzing on The Frank Mitchell Phone In on U105 and 25 weather forecasts a week on UTV always keeps me bouncing.

The sporting year gave the whole country a lift. The amazing footballing journey with the European Championships, the achievements of Carl Frampton (right), the incredible trophy haul for Slaughtneil in Gaelic games and Pep coming to Man City - it's all been amazing. I'm hoping 2017 will see other parts of the world become more settled than they have been. It's incredible to think that Northern Ireland is going into the New Year as one of the safest places on earth. There are worrying issues elsewhere, but with God's blessing and a generosity of human spirit this coming year will be one to enjoy and savour."

Gerry Carroll is a newly elected MLA for the People Before Profit Alliance. He says:

"This was a fantastic year for People Before Profit and our whole team. Without a doubt, the highlight of the year for me was topping the poll in west Belfast, getting elected to Stormont.

We were led to believe that politics in this part of the world would continue along the same route - on a pre-determined cycle, with continual communal politics. No doubt 2016 will be seen as the year PBP broke that mould and showed that socialist politics is back in Belfast, Derry and across the North.

However, this was also a year where the likes of Trump, Marine Le Pen and other right-wingers continually tried to whip up Islamophobia and fear about threats of immigration. The truth is we will need a renewed effort in 2017 to take a stand against racism, to defend migrants and refugees, but ultimately to make it crystal clear - the threat to public services comes from the austerity parties, not from other human beings seeking to live in this part of the world.

Next year, I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the Trade Union Freedom Bill that my colleague Eamonn McCann is bringing forward to the Assembly. Hopefully, 2017 can be a year where workers and trade union rights are vindicated and the restrictions introduced by Thatcher are rescinded by Stormont."

Author Tony Macaulay is a management consultant and peace builder. His first novel, Paperboy, was about his time selling the Belfast Telegraph during the height of the Troubles. He says:

"In terms of writing I finished writing my next book and got a deal for it in 2016 - it's called Little House On The Peaceline. The other highlight was reading from it in New York at the First Irish Festival in the National Arts Club. It was an iconic building in an iconic city hosted by the WB Yeats Society. From where I came from as a paperboy, this was amazing experience.

Personally it was quite a sad year, as my mother died in the summer and it was a year of change too as both of my children flew the nest and moved out of the home.

In 2017 the book will be launched in March as well as the audiobook of Paperboy that I recorded - I have ended up really being tired of the sound of my own voice. Thanks to that I will be on a book tour in Los Angeles for the first time."

Belfast Telegraph