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Weddings, funerals, royal visits, coronavirus... how Sunday Life photographers captured bleak year

Just some of the amazing pictures taken by Colm O'Reilly, Liam McBurney, John McVitty, Niall Carson, Justin Kernoghan and Simon Graham in 2020

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Black Lives Matter protest in Belfast at Custom House Square. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Black Lives Matter protest in Belfast at Custom House Square. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Duchess of Cambridge stroking an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm where she was meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. Photographer: Liam McBurney

Duchess of Cambridge stroking an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm where she was meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. Photographer: Liam McBurney

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Robyn Peoples (left) and Sharni Edwards, who became the first couple to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, at the offices of the Rainbow Project, Belfast on February 11 2020. Picture by Liam McBurney

Robyn Peoples (left) and Sharni Edwards, who became the first couple to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, at the offices of the Rainbow Project, Belfast on February 11 2020. Picture by Liam McBurney

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Grave

Grave

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Barman Harry McKeaveney from the Hatfield bar delivery service delivers pints of draft Guinness around Belfast.

Barman Harry McKeaveney from the Hatfield bar delivery service delivers pints of draft Guinness around Belfast.

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Members of the PSNI Covid-19 Unit at Musgrave Street custody suite in Belfast. Picture by Niall Carson

Members of the PSNI Covid-19 Unit at Musgrave Street custody suite in Belfast. Picture by Niall Carson

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Belfast's oldest Catholic Church, St Mary's in Chapel Lane, reopens after the Northern Ireland Executive announced last week that places of worship would allowed to open for solitary prayer. Picture by Liam McBurney

Belfast's oldest Catholic Church, St Mary's in Chapel Lane, reopens after the Northern Ireland Executive announced last week that places of worship would allowed to open for solitary prayer. Picture by Liam McBurney

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Orange Man, Randy Davidson, who is isolating at home, poses with a sticker in his window to celebrate the 12th of July as traditional large-scale parades were cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Picture by Niall Carson

Orange Man, Randy Davidson, who is isolating at home, poses with a sticker in his window to celebrate the 12th of July as traditional large-scale parades were cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Picture by Niall Carson

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Sir Mo Farah after crossing the finish line after taking part in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

Sir Mo Farah after crossing the finish line after taking part in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

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Covid

Covid

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Anti-lockdown protest. Picture by Niall Carson

Anti-lockdown protest. Picture by Niall Carson

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A mural thanking the NHS on Ballyregan Road in East Belfast. Picture by Brian Lawless

A mural thanking the NHS on Ballyregan Road in East Belfast. Picture by Brian Lawless

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The NHS Spitfire flies past crowds of people on Scrabo Tower in Newtownards after its flyover above the Ulster Hospital and the Newtownards Community Hospital. Photo by Simon Graham

The NHS Spitfire flies past crowds of people on Scrabo Tower in Newtownards after its flyover above the Ulster Hospital and the Newtownards Community Hospital. Photo by Simon Graham

Kim Armstrong, an NHS nurse on the frontline of the Covid crisis, enjoying her first Fatherís Day with her long lost dad Roy McComb after 58 years. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Kim Armstrong, an NHS nurse on the frontline of the Covid crisis, enjoying her first Fatherís Day with her long lost dad Roy McComb after 58 years. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Undertakers dressed in white hazmat suits wheel the remains of Enniskillen man Lawrence McManus towards his grave at Cross Cemetery on Saturday after the 93-year-old died of Covid-19.  Picture by John McVitty

Undertakers dressed in white hazmat suits wheel the remains of Enniskillen man Lawrence McManus towards his grave at Cross Cemetery on Saturday after the 93-year-old died of Covid-19. Picture by John McVitty

SDtorey

SDtorey

11th night Bonfire at Moneyreagh.  Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 11-07-2020

11th night Bonfire at Moneyreagh. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 11-07-2020

17-month-old Kainan overcame COVID-19. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

17-month-old Kainan overcame COVID-19. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall. The couple who both have life limiting ilnesses finnaly tied the knot after being engaged for 29 years.  Picture by Colm O'Reilly

The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall. The couple who both have life limiting ilnesses finnaly tied the knot after being engaged for 29 years. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

 Daniel Adelman (10) gets soaked in the rain as he feeds the swans at the Waterworks. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Daniel Adelman (10) gets soaked in the rain as he feeds the swans at the Waterworks. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

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Black Lives Matter protest in Belfast at Custom House Square. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Photographers are so often our windows onto the world and in this year of a raging global pandemic they have risked their lives to bear witness.

Out on the front line of Covid-19 photographers in Northern Ireland faced unprecedented challenges in documenting the news and events which shaped 2020.

Despite the difficulties our photographers at Sunday Life captured images which will be looked back on for generations as people remember this remarkable, terrible and tumultuous year.

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Duchess of Cambridge stroking an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm where she was meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. Photographer: Liam McBurney

Duchess of Cambridge stroking an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm where she was meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. Photographer: Liam McBurney

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Duchess of Cambridge stroking an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm where she was meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. Photographer: Liam McBurney

Despite the constant shadow of the pandemic there were moving tales of miraculous recoveries, like the story of little 17-month-old Kainan Thompson whose parents Danielle and Samuel were delighted to welcome him home after he beat Covid-19 in May.

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17-month-old Kainan overcame COVID-19. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

17-month-old Kainan overcame COVID-19. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

17-month-old Kainan overcame COVID-19. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

We also watched as social distancing became part of our everyday lives including births, funerals and everything in between.

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Undertakers dressed in white hazmat suits wheel the remains of Enniskillen man Lawrence McManus towards his grave at Cross Cemetery on Saturday after the 93-year-old died of Covid-19.  Picture by John McVitty

Undertakers dressed in white hazmat suits wheel the remains of Enniskillen man Lawrence McManus towards his grave at Cross Cemetery on Saturday after the 93-year-old died of Covid-19. Picture by John McVitty

Undertakers dressed in white hazmat suits wheel the remains of Enniskillen man Lawrence McManus towards his grave at Cross Cemetery on Saturday after the 93-year-old died of Covid-19. Picture by John McVitty

The huge funeral of former IRA man Bobby Storey in west Belfast made headlines in June due to concerns around alleged breaches of government guidelines by Sinn Féin members including deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.

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SDtorey

SDtorey

Disruption was felt in every aspect of our lives and families in particular were forced to adapt to new ways of life including home-schooling their children.

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Barman Harry McKeaveney from the Hatfield bar delivery service delivers pints of draft Guinness around Belfast.

Barman Harry McKeaveney from the Hatfield bar delivery service delivers pints of draft Guinness around Belfast.

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Barman Harry McKeaveney from the Hatfield bar delivery service delivers pints of draft Guinness around Belfast.

The coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and related issues dominated 2020 but was punctuated by a number of high profile events including the rise of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement following the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in the US in May.

These included a rally at Belfast's Custom House Square in the city centre which saw a massive, mostly socially distanced, protest.

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Orange Man, Randy Davidson, who is isolating at home, poses with a sticker in his window to celebrate the 12th of July as traditional large-scale parades were cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Picture by Niall Carson

Orange Man, Randy Davidson, who is isolating at home, poses with a sticker in his window to celebrate the 12th of July as traditional large-scale parades were cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Picture by Niall Carson

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Orange Man, Randy Davidson, who is isolating at home, poses with a sticker in his window to celebrate the 12th of July as traditional large-scale parades were cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Picture by Niall Carson

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Orangemen and women from across the province took part in scaled-down July 12 celebrations in their own neighbourhoods including the Eleventh night bonfires.

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11th night Bonfire at Moneyreagh.  Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 11-07-2020

11th night Bonfire at Moneyreagh. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 11-07-2020

11th night Bonfire at Moneyreagh. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 11-07-2020

Award-winning Sunday Life photographer Colm O'Reilly spoke of the challenges he and his colleagues faced throughout the year as they did their job.

He said: "It was a difficult year for everyone and I certainly found it challenging from a professional perspective.

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The NHS Spitfire flies past crowds of people on Scrabo Tower in Newtownards after its flyover above the Ulster Hospital and the Newtownards Community Hospital. Photo by Simon Graham

The NHS Spitfire flies past crowds of people on Scrabo Tower in Newtownards after its flyover above the Ulster Hospital and the Newtownards Community Hospital. Photo by Simon Graham

The NHS Spitfire flies past crowds of people on Scrabo Tower in Newtownards after its flyover above the Ulster Hospital and the Newtownards Community Hospital. Photo by Simon Graham

"It was sometimes tricky to gain people's trust amid worries around catching the virus under the circumstances, which is understandable.

"We always assured them safety is our first priority and I'm grateful many people gave me access to their lives at this remarkable time.

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Robyn Peoples (left) and Sharni Edwards, who became the first couple to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, at the offices of the Rainbow Project, Belfast on February 11 2020. Picture by Liam McBurney

Robyn Peoples (left) and Sharni Edwards, who became the first couple to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, at the offices of the Rainbow Project, Belfast on February 11 2020. Picture by Liam McBurney

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Robyn Peoples (left) and Sharni Edwards, who became the first couple to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, at the offices of the Rainbow Project, Belfast on February 11 2020. Picture by Liam McBurney

"There was always the overhanging worries about Covid from a personal perspective, worries about catching it or spreading it, but every precaution was always being taken whenever doing picture jobs and returning home.

"It was a privilege to be allowed to document many personal moments throughout the year, one being a long-standing engagement of 29 years, a couple called Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott, who finally tied the knot.

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The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall. The couple who both have life limiting ilnesses finnaly tied the knot after being engaged for 29 years.  Picture by Colm O'Reilly

The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall. The couple who both have life limiting ilnesses finnaly tied the knot after being engaged for 29 years. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall. The couple who both have life limiting ilnesses finnaly tied the knot after being engaged for 29 years. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

"Another was the story of 17-month old Kainan who beat Covid, it was lovely to share that with the wee boy and his family.

"Our coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests sticks out as well and I'd like to thank my colleague Liam McBurney for his work on that and countless other projects through the year."

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Sir Mo Farah after crossing the finish line after taking part in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

Sir Mo Farah after crossing the finish line after taking part in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

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Sir Mo Farah after crossing the finish line after taking part in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

Some of the more uplifting stories of the year include Mo Farah's visit to Larne in which he narrowly missed out on a new British record after winning the Antrim Coast Half Marathon, the miraculous reuniting of NHS nurse Kim Armstrong and her long-lost dad Roy McComb for Father's Day after 58 years apart, and joy for the gay community as same-sex marriage became legal for the first time.

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Kim Armstrong, an NHS nurse on the frontline of the Covid crisis, enjoying her first Fatherís Day with her long lost dad Roy McComb after 58 years. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Kim Armstrong, an NHS nurse on the frontline of the Covid crisis, enjoying her first Fatherís Day with her long lost dad Roy McComb after 58 years. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Kim Armstrong, an NHS nurse on the frontline of the Covid crisis, enjoying her first Fatherís Day with her long lost dad Roy McComb after 58 years. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

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