My hopes and dreams for 2015
Belfast prospering, a cure for Ebola or Rory McIlroy in the Green Jacket... Six well-known personalities tell Maureen Coleman what they would like to see happen this year.
Belfast actress Seainin Brennan (36) recently played Liz Tyler in BBC2 drama The Fall. She is in a relationship with Ben Fetherston. She says:
'Ebola terrifies me, I just hope they can find a cure'
All my hopes for 2015 are of equal importance to me. The most shocking thing about 2014 was Ebola and hearing it described by the World Health Organisation as the largest, most severe, most complex outbreak in the history of disease. So I would hope that they find a cure for it, and soon, as it has reached crisis point. That's not to underestimate any other illnesses, like cancer. But I found the epidemic proportions of Ebola terrifying and hope they come up with a cure.
Another hope of mine would be for everlasting peace, not just in Northern Ireland, but around the world, too. There are so many places where there is brutal conflict going on and it's the innocent civilians and children who suffer.
I'd love to see peace in Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine. We're proof that you can come from a conflicted nation and broker peace.
I hope that my family are all healthy and happy. I have the most amazing parents that anyone could ask for, Maura and Tom, and an incredible sister, two brothers and nieces and nephews. I'm also lucky to have a wonderful boyfriend and it's important to me that all those I love are happy and healthy.
I want to continue to do what I love, to be able to wake up each day with a smile on my face. You have to let your passion choose you and as long as I can continue to act, then I'll be happy. Doing a job that makes you smile is much more important that material possessions. Acting can be tough but I love it.
I hope to continue to be the best person I can be, to help others less fortunate and to give a voice to those who don't have one. They are important values my parents instilled in me.
Finally, I'd love to see more tolerance in the world - among nations, towards each other's colour, creed or sexual orientation. We need to learn that we have more similarities than differences."
Denise Watson (43) is a sports reporter for UTV. She lives in Lisburn with her husband, David Scott, and has two children, Samantha (10) and Elizabeth (6). She says:
Personally and professionally I'd like 2015 to be as wonderful as 2014. My kids and hubby David are all happy and healthy, as I am. That's all that matters to me. Professionally I've established myself as a freelance reporter. I'm lucky to be working with brilliant people at UTV and U105. And I hope UTV Ireland is a success too.
I really want to see the number of road deaths reduced in Northern Ireland. Nothing seems to be getting through and the carnage continues. I urge people to stop speeding. It's crazy. Driving is dangerous and we all need to heed warning signs.
Another thing I'd like to see are more positive role models for my daughters - strong, smart, independent women who don't need to undress or exploit themselves. Kim Kardashian and the TOWIE girls are appalling. We need to stop giving them the oxygen of publicity and celebrating them. Instead, someone like Dame Mary Peters inspires me.
I'd like to see children read more and leave the iPads down. Hours and hours spent on tablets and mobile phones are ruining their communication skills and creativity.
I enjoy Facebook and Twitter, but the rise of internet trolling and bullying is something that worries me.
I'd like there to be more respect for other cultures. It's important that we respect traditions which are important to others, whether it's a language or a parade.
We can all live here in Northern Ireland. It's such a wonderful place.
And finally, I'd love to see Rory McIlroy win the Masters golf tournament at Augusta. In fact, I think we all would. And I'd like to meet him as well. I must be the only Northern Irish sports reporter to have never met Rory!"
Kirstie McMurray (41) from Bangor, is Downtown Radio’s breakfast show presenter. Kirstie is engaged to Andy Brisbane and has two children, Connor (16) and Katie (14). She says:
My son Connor is doing his GCSEs this year so I hope he gets his head into his books and gets good results. If his mock exams are anything to go by, he should do very well, but we'll have to wait and see. That's a big hope of mine.
I would absolutely love to go on holidays this year as I haven't had one in a while. I'd love a big family holiday somewhere like Mexico. To coincide with that plan, I also hope to give up smoking and go to the gym.
I know they're resolutions, but they're hopes for me as well. I hope I can stick with them!
I'd really love to see a society where there was more respect for each other. There is such a lack of it around. The figure for road deaths this year has been horrendous. I'd like to see fewer deaths on the roads, obviously, but if people just had more respect for each other, for the roads, for the speed limit, respect for the fact they're handling a killing machine. I know that might sounds like a generalisation, but I really think a lack of respect is a huge problem we have now.
I also hope to be still in employment this year and to be busy at work.
When we had our work Christmas do recently, there were a couple of homeless guys outside. It was freezing. I remember thinking how awful it was that we were indoors in the heat, eating a £50-a-head dinner while they were outside. I've started doing my bit to help now, going up to Belfast, bringing food and clothes. So for 2015 I hope to see the problem of homelessness tackled in Northern Ireland and to continue to help where I can."
Actor Gerard McCarthy, from Belfast, will be starring in the one-man show Cat, at the Courtyard Theatre in Newtownabbey, next month. The 29-year-old lives in London. He says:
Firstly, one of my main hopes for 2015 is to get the chance to spend more time at home in Belfast. My little nephew Ollie is at the stage where he is saying his first words and starting to walk and I want to be around for those things. In 2014 I spent most of my time in London, so it would be nice to be at home more this year.
2014 saw me play a variety of great roles, from George Bailey in a recent stage production of It's A Wonderful Life to the many characters in the one-man show Jonathan Harker and Dracula. I hope that workwise I get to play many interesting and challenging parts as well.
I'd really like to win the Lottery too. Alternatively, I might find myself some millionaire friends!
I'd also love to see Northern Ireland's politicians take a step back and realise that ultimately everyone in Northern Ireland wants the same thing and that is to live in a peaceful, harmonious environment with equality and respect for everybody.
I hope to see Northern Ireland's television and film industry continue to develop and thrive and to continue to be something to be proud of.
Finally, I wish for health and happiness for all my family and friends, because they are the most important things."
Paula Bradley (45), from Carnmoney, is a DUP MLA for North Belfast. She has two children, Jessica (24) and Josh (22), and is engaged to Alan Galloway. She says:
One of my big goals for 2015 is to be better organised! In general I'm quite disorganised, and I rely on a lot of people. I have wonderful staff in my office who organise my work life, while my partner is fantastic at home and keeps the house going. I think it's because of my job, because it's so busy and you work such long hours.
I've probably put on two stone since I became an MLA - the 'Stormont Two Stone' I call it - so I need to lose weight. I'm a smoker as well and I've quit before so it would be good to do that again.
I want my children to stay safe and fulfil whatever they want to do in life. My son lives in England and my daughter is teaching out in China, so this was my first Christmas without her, which was hard.
I have a very large family, with lots of aunts and uncles.
We're all very close, but it would be great to spend more time with them too.
I feel guilty that I don't get to spend enough time with them, especially my parents.
I would hope that we continue to see a peaceful Northern Ireland this year as well. I was born in 1969 and grew up during the Troubles. Now I look at Belfast and am so proud of it, it's a wonderful city and I want to see it become even better.
In my career, I would like to see more women in politics here, as that's one of my particular interests, the under-representation of women. It's going to take some time, but hopefully this year we'll see more women elected."
Coleraine actress Jayne Wisener (27) is currently starring in Aladdin at the Grand Opera House, Belfast. She lives in London with her husband Wayne Austin. She says:
I hope 2015 is a year that I get to spend more quality time with the people in my life that matter to me, my husband, my family and my friends. My job sometimes takes me away, but also, because of personal and professional reasons in 2014, I didn't get to spend too much time with my loved ones.
I'd really love to see the arts scene in Northern Ireland continue to flourish and that people will continue to go out and support events and keep the scene going and not be put off by the cuts.
I think television has been pretty rubbish for a few years, but then the BBC comes along and gives us shows like the Belfast-based drama The Fall and The Missing, which starred our own James Nesbitt. Those programmes were amazing and one of my hopes would be to be able to watch more shows like them.
I always hope for decent weather in the summer so that would be another dream for this year.
My cat Doogie was really sick in 2014, which was heartbreaking for me. It's a very personal one, but I hope he doesn't get sick ever again.
My brother John and his girlfriend Lisa got engaged on Christmas Eve.
They haven't set a date for their big day yet, but I hope they have a really exciting time planning their wedding."
So who will make it big this year?
What could happen in 2015 then? While many pundits and personalities have already compiled their lists of predictions for the 12 months ahead, we take our own look at who the big winners of this year might be ...
- Benedict Cumberbatch to win an Oscar — there’s something about the English actor’s old fashioned gentlemanly charm that harks back to a more civilised age of cinema, before the notion of celebrity reared its ugly head in earnest. And frankly, it’s about time his big screen talents were rewarded, not least for his spellbinding take on tragic Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing
- Ireland to win the Rugby World Cup — it just won’t be the same facing the likes of the French or English without Brian O’Driscoll in the backline, will it? But who knows, there may just be another young pretender waiting to prove his mettle amid the ranks of the next generation of Irish player. Altogether now, ‘shoulder to shoulder ...!’
- Rory McIlroy to win all four of golf’s Majors — despite a stellar year scooping two of golf’s Majors and helping Europe to a Ryder Cup win, the general consensus was that the Holywood man was robbed of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy last month. With such a upswing in his fortunes, though, this could well be the year McIlroy takes the Grand Slam of golf
- James Nesbitt to win a Bafta for The Missing — we used to think of the Ballymena-born actor as much for his cheeky smile and twinkle in his eye as for his many screen appearances. But recently-concluded drama The Missing proved a game-changer for the 49-year-old star, as he portrayed the agony of a father searching for his missing son in France