From Belfast riots to Royal baby: The six biggest stories of 2013
It was another memorable year for news in Northern Ireland as the G8 summit came to Co Fermanagh. The Belfast Telegraph was at the forefront of covering all the big events, from the royal birth to the arrest of the Peru Two. Claire Graham selects the six stories which dominated the headlines this year.
Come to Northern Ireland, there's always plenty going on.
This year attracted tourists in their droves as we played host to the World Police and Fire Games and the UK City of Culture celebrations in Londonderry.
In August, Belfast was buzzing as the 10-day games went down as the friendliest games in their history.
Custom House Square was transformed into the athletes' village where the atmosphere was electric as 7,000 visiting competitors arrived from 67 different countries, along with their families. The global emergency services personnel did battle in the choppy Portrush sea, the skyscraper Obel building in Belfast and the freshly-cut lawns of Stormont. Plus the £20m boost for the region's economy was just another trophy for the mantelpiece.
Meanwhile, up in Derry, the city's celebration of the first ever UK City of Culture title caught the hearts and minds of not just international guests but the locals too.
From the Radio 1 Big Weekend, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Turner Prize 2013 to the the Royal National Ballet and the Hofesh Shechter dance spectacular – the city had a ball with more than 200 cultural events covering the genres of theatre, music, dance, visual arts, sport, architecture and film.
Almost 15,000 people flocked to Ebrington Square over four nights in August to take in the sights and sounds of the first ever Walled City Tattoo.
An estimated 430,000 attended the Fleadh Cheoil – the biggest attendance in its 60-year history. More than 40,000 people lined the streets and walls for the Return of Colmcille spectacle. Some 180,000 came to watch the 17 installations in the amazing Lumiere light festival.
The city shared its soul with global guests as they jetted in as strangers and departed as friends.
The Royal baby
IT'S a boy.
And there he was, carried by mum, Kate, with proud dad Prince William at her side as she came down the steps of the Lindo wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.
The new mother had thousands of camera bulbs flashing in her eyes as the world got its first eagerly-awaited glimpse of the future monarch the day after his birth on July 22.
The tiny bundle of joy was presented to the international press on the steps of the London hospital.
To his parents, he was a first born. To the rest of the world, he was a future king.
George Alexander Louis – to be known as HRH Prince George of Cambridge – came into the world weighing 8lbs 6oz.
His arrival came amidst great excitement from the media which had been camped outside the hospital since July 1.
And Royal watchers didn't have to wait long for the name to be announced. George had long been the most popular name with the bookies, with betting firms William Hill, Coral and Paddy Power, all offering short odds.
The Duchess had suffered a difficult start to her pregnancy. In December last year, St James's Palace announced that the Duchess was being treated in hospital for severe morning sickness.
Later in the pregnancy, she revealed she would prefer to have a boy whereas William was hoping for a girl.
The arrival of a girl would have made history after landmark legislation was enacted to end discrimination against female royals acceding to the throne ahead of men. George is the first royal child to be born under the law.
The G8 Summit
FOR three days in June, the Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen was in lockdown as the eight most powerful people in the world came to town.
The four corners of the earth gathered into a tiny pocket of rural Northern Ireland to find agreement on game-changing global decisions.
Syria, tax evasion and EU-US trade deals were debated and discussed with the sun-splashed Fermanagh landscape as a backdrop. Police boats patrolled the tranquil waters of Fermanagh lakelands and Air Force 1 touched down at Aldergrove as part of an unprecedented security operation.
The visitors to the spruced up Eniskillen were Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Vladimir Putin from Russia, President of the United States Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cameron's decision to host the G8 in Fermanagh was rewarded by it going down in history as the most peaceful ever. Belfast was the focus of protesters from across the world, all hoping their voices would be heard by the international leaders tucked away in the luxury golf resort.
Demonstrators marched down Royal Avenue, and they rallied up their passion and support,with slogans emblazoned on placards, posters and their faces.
Barack and Michelle Obama nipped to the Waterfront Hall to say hello.
But they were upstaged by one Belfast schoolgirl who stood in front of her friends, peers, politicians and television cameras and delivered her message of hope.
Hannah Nelson (16), a student at Methodist College, borrowed the limelight from the Obamas for long enough to inspire a generation.
IT'S been a topsy-turvy year for weather watchers.
First we had the coldest spring on record, followed by a long-awaited – and long overdue – barbecue summer.
July was the third hottest on record in the last 100 years but in March, Nothern Ireland was covered in a white blanket threatening our countryside, livestock and city suburbs.
Mountain rescue teams, the Red Cross and the Army were called in to help clear roads and airlift supplies to families stranded in their homes after the record-breaking dump of snow which cut off many communities.
There were heart-breaking images of half-alive animals being pulled out from under mounds of snow as farmers saw livestock perish. Tens of thousands of animals died in the March snow.
In Belfast, anger grew in the suburbs as elderly people became trapped in their homes for weeks on end and stubborn ice refused to allow a delayed spring to melt its dangers away.
Cars lay abandoned on the streets and post remained undelivered until the weather eased.
Community spirit shone out from the horrific conditions as spades were lifted and gloves donned to help out those in need.
From one farm to the next in silent mountains in North Antrim, locals trudged through the slippery tracks to check on neighbours and friends miles apart.
Riots, protests and Haass
THE year began with protesters draped in Union flags outside Belfast City Hall and causing serious disruption elsewhere.
It ended with a US diplomat chairing talks with the five main political parties here to try and seek resolution on our most contentious issues.
It's been a turbulent year including a riotous summer, in which unresolved issues from the Troubles came firmly back on to the political agenda.
For the first time, the Parades Commission banned the return journey of the Orange Order march past the contentious stretch of the Crumlin Road at Ardoyne. For more than 170 days, the march has been banned from passing Twaddell Avenue where a protest camp now sits.
Even Belfast's Royal Avenue, usually bustling with shoppers and traders, became the scene of serious rioting in August.
Against this backdrop, US diplomat Dr Richard Haass was working towards getting Northern Ireland's parties to find a compromise on flags, parades and the past.
There has also been a worrying upsurge in security alerts. Fifteen years on from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the Army has been called on to deal with almost 400 alerts in 2013. Bomb disposal officers have been called to an average of more than one security alert every day this year.
The Peru Two
TWO young women, one extraordinary journey and now a prison sentence behind bars.
The incredible story of Dungannon woman Michaella McCollum and her friend Melissa Reid, from Scotland, became one of the biggest talking points of 2013.
Michaella, a part-time model and dancer, first came to public notice through a missing person Facebook appeal launched by her sister Stephanie in early August.
Michaella had left home in mid-June to work in the bars and clubs of Ibiza for the summer. The Belfast Telegraph published three stories attempting to reunite the glamorous Michaella with her family before a helpful airport worker in Peru spotted the Facebook appeal.
Calling us from Lima, he broke the news that Michaella was not missing in Ibiza – but had, in fact, been arrested at Jorge Chavez International Airport for her part in attempting to smuggle nearly 11 kilos of cocaine packaged as food items. The drugs in their suitcases was never in question. But the two young women protested their innocence, with Michaella clearly stating: "I was made to do this."
Their story of being coerced into trafficking drugs across two continents was discussed widely by a fascinated public. The plausibility of Michaella's story was a talking point, along with her hairstyle and how long she would have to spend in Peru's tough prison regime.
After pleading guilty, a deal was struck and the two women were sentenced earlier this month. While her family quietly marked Christmas at home in Co Tyrone, Michaella was beginning a six-year prison sentence.