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Northern Ireland’s top 100 newsmakers of 2021, No 50-26: From Frostbit Boy to a famous wee donkey

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Northern Ireland's Top 100 newsmakers of 2021, No 50-26. At No 50: Frostbit boy Ruairi McSorley

Northern Ireland's Top 100 newsmakers of 2021, No 50-26. At No 50: Frostbit boy Ruairi McSorley

Northern Ireland's Top 100 newsmakers of 2021, No 50-26. At No 50: Frostbit boy Ruairi McSorley

We continue the (non-exhaustive) end-of-year countdown of the people and events that shaped 2021 compiled by our news team. Who takes the first spot and who would you have added to our list?

50.

Ruairi McSorley

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Ruairi McSorley pictured at Camp Beach. Photo By : Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD

Ruairi McSorley pictured at Camp Beach. Photo By : Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD

Ruairi McSorley pictured at Camp Beach. Photo By : Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD

Frostbit Boy was back in the headlines during August for the first time in eight years, following his rescue after being lost at sea for nearly 12 hours in Co Kerry. The Derry native is instantly recognisable to those who remember him from the 2015 television interview filmed while he was walking to school in the snow. The clip became a global hit and made headlines internationally.

49.

Zac Mac

The 13-year-old self-taught guitar sensation headlined his first gig in October. The Lurgan teen performed at Belfast’s inaugural Multi-Ethnic Youth Festival.

48.

Fr Martin Magill and Rev Steve Stockman

Two men of the cloth who marked their 60th birthdays by raising more than £9,000 for charity by asking their parishioners for contributions to Belfast-based non-profit organisation Embrace, which helps refugees and those of ethnic minorities living here, in lieu of gifts.

47.

Naomi Long

The Justice Minister has continuously hit back at online trolls and expressed concerns over abuse dished out to women on social media. She also promised that a new law against domestic abuse will be implemented in 2022, and said she is “bringing forward protection from stalking legislation as well as a Justice Bill, and work on the Gillen Review to tackle related sexual abuse issues”.

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46.

Brandon Lewis

The Secretary of State had to eat his words (or tweets) when he admitted in June that a post he wrote on the social media platform dating all the way back to January 1 “has not aged well”. The tweet had begun: “There is no ‘Irish Sea Border’.” He tried to redeem himself on BBC’s Andrew Marr show, however, adding that what led to a border on the Irish Sea was the EU’s implementation of the protocol (which the UK voted for).

45.

Sheena Lavery

She was part of a team that helped more than 15,000 Britons and Afghans — including over 2,000 children — flee the Taliban in August.

44.

Patrick Kielty

The Co Down comedian’s One Hundred Years of Union BBC documentary aired in September and gained widespread admiration, even from across the water, as it focused on the generation born after the ceasefire. He more recently made noteworthy comments at the Irish Government’s Shared Island initiative, adding that the island of Ireland will never be united in how people feel about who they are and what they believe in.

43.

Lisa McGee

In September Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee confirmed the hit show will end after its third series, due to air in 2022. The Channel 4 sitcom put the city on the world stage when it first came to our screens in 2018.

42.

Amy Hunter

On her 16th birthday in October, she became the youngest cricket player, male or female, to score a one-day international century.

41.

Joe Hill

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Derry Mayor Alderman Graham Warke had a special visitor with Derry skater and Halloween legend Joe Hill

Derry Mayor Alderman Graham Warke had a special visitor with Derry skater and Halloween legend Joe Hill

Derry Mayor Alderman Graham Warke had a special visitor with Derry skater and Halloween legend Joe Hill

Disco dancer Joe Hill proved just how impressive his footwork is during Halloween when — dressed in a white tuxedo and Afro wig — he rollerskated down Derry’s steep Waterloo Street while holding a pint, which was maintained perfectly unspilled. Of course, he went viral for the fantastic feat and even had a meet-and-greet with the mayor of Derry afterwards.

40.

Graham Dodds

The PSNI chief inspector moved many people across Northern Ireland after donating one of his kidneys to nine-year-old Co Fermanagh boy Joshua Dolan. Mr Dodds acted after seeing an appeal by Joshua’s mum Mary for a live donor for her son.

39.

John Glass

Aged 21, Glass hit six sixes in the final over to win the NI T20 Trophy for Ballymena Cricket Club against Creggan in July. According to Cricket bible Wisden, only nine times in the entire history of the game has a batsman hit six sixes off an over.

38.

Paul Givan

Givan became the First Minister by default, following Edwin Poots’ resignation from the position of DUP leader after just three weeks. In June it was reported that Givan would be required to resign as First Minister once the next DUP leader had been chosen, but once Jeffrey Donaldson took that role, Givan was informed he would remain until “later this year”. Donaldson said in an UTV interview that he intended to resign his seat as an MP and become First Minister before the next Assembly election, but also said he didn’t know precisely how he would bring this about. So, as it stands, Givan will lead Stormont into the new year — something he probably did not expect to be doing six months ago.

37.

Peter Fitzgerald

The head of medical testing company Randox, Fitzgerald led the diagnostics firm through a ramping up of its Covid-19 testing capability. But the business landed in the centre of a political storm over lobbying on its behalf by former Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

36.

Steven Davis

Rangers midfielder Davis made history as he became the most capped UK male international footballer of all time, taking the title from ex-England goalie Peter Shilton. He broke the record when he picked up his 126th cap in Northern Ireland’s draw with Bulgaria at Windsor Park in March.

35.

Paul Frew

He is one of the DUP’s most high-profile campaigners against Covid regulations. It’s unclear as to whether Frew himself is vaccinated against the virus, but he strongly opposed the legal enforcement of the mandatory Covid certification scheme and accepted a petition from protesters outside Stormont on the day the law passed in the Assembly.

34.

Adrian Dunbar

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Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings in Line of Duty.

Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings in Line of Duty.

Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings in Line of Duty.

How could we ever forget the man that most certainly did not come up the Lagan in a bubble? Line Of Duty’s Ted Hastings has purportedly even taken part in a stunt outside New Scotland Yard protesting against the Metropolitan Police’s decision not to investigate allegations Number 10 staff broke Covid rules by holding parties last December.

33.

Anne Donaghy

In terms of front page value alone, it’s hard to leave the suspended chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council out. She was suspended at the beginning of December while an investigation continues into allegations of bullying and harassment within the council, and is set to initiate discrimination proceedings against the local authority.

32.

Colin Davidson

Ulster University appointed globally renowned artist Dr Colin Davidson as its new chancellor in June, and he takes the over the from actor James Nesbitt. Davidson graduated in 1991 from the university with a first-class honours degree and has since become one of the world’s pre-eminent contemporary artists.

31.

Brian Dooher

In September Dooher became the sixth man in GAA history to win an All-Ireland title as a player, captain and manager. Taking the reins of Tyrone from legendary boss Mickey Harte, Dooher and joint manager Feargal Logan won the Sam Maguire with the Red Hands in their first year in charge. It’s also worth noting that Dooher is the deputy chief veterinary officer for the Department of Agriculture, and has faced new pressures in his day job due to the introduction of the Brexit protocol, which brought checks at ports on foods travelling from Britain.

30.

Jeffrey Donaldson

The DUP leader has been in the news for threatening — more than once — to bring down Stormont unless the Brexit protocol is ditched. He again reiterated his vow this week, and was lambasted for doing so by the other four parties in the Executive.

29.

Dazzle (the dog)

In September pooch Dazzle rose to internet stardom when the Co Down pooch ran on to a cricket field where her owner was batting and then scampered away with the ball, while being pursued in vain by players from both teams during the semi-final of the women’s Clear Currency All Ireland T20 Cup.

28.

Marissa Callaghan

A true role model for young girls everywhere, the Cliftonville midfielder captained the Northern Ireland’s women’s team to historic success this year and has been an advocate for cross-community relations. She agreed with former Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill recently that it would be a good idea to drop God Save The Queen and replace it with a new, more inclusive anthem.

27.

Charlie Cooley

The young Rory McIlroy fan showed in May that he has enough talent on the golf course to rival his idol after the Newtownbreda lad shot a course record just a day before he went on to help his GAA club win a league game. The 18-year-old scored 62 at Belvoir Park before taking to the pitch with his team O’Donovan Rossa, who beat St John’s by a point in the Antrim Senior Football League the next day, leading to praise on social media.

26.

Paddy McGurgan

Talented make-up artist McGurgan, originally from Co Armagh, wowed fans in September with his weight loss, debuting his remarkable transformation on his social media platform to his 68,000 followers on Facebook and 41,000 on Instagram.


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