From Brexit to the Troubles and the deaths of migrants in a lorry, 2019 was a tumultuous year - here are the quotes to prove it
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From Brexit to the Troubles and the deaths of migrants in a lorry, 2019 was a tumultuous year - here are the quotes to prove it

WITH the New Year fast on the approach there is no better time to look back on the year that was - and the quotes and events that made it...

How many of these can you recall?

“I stand here, leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions, and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs. . . .I don’t think my country is the only one in the world where this story is possible. It is found in every country where liberty is cherished.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who attended a St Patrick’s breakfast with his partner Matt Barrett. The function was hosted by US Vice president, the conservative and devoutly Christian Mike Pence. The vice-president has been known in the past for his anti-gay stance.

“The fewer than 10% [of killings] that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes, they were people acting under orders and fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way."

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Minister of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley speaking in April. Her remarks caused outrage and she later apologised for them.

Karen Bradley

“I want to be honest about this, you know, the peace in Northern Ireland was hard won and under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, there is a need to treat both sides in the same way, however angry we may have felt about what happened."

Former British Home Secretary Jeremy Hunt reiterating that British soldiers suspected of committing crimes during the Troubles were subject to the law like anyone else.

“The British army never had any chance of defeating the spirit, centuries old, of an indomitable people, with character, and the culture, and the history and the sense of freedom as old as Ireland.”

Gerry Adams TD, delivering the graveside oration in tribute to Kevin McKenna, former IRA chief of staff who died in 2019.

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Simon Coveney

“A no-deal Brexit will be a major shock for the Irish economy. We cannot offset all the damage it will do, but we are doing everything we can. This legislation is the product of a root-and-branch trawl of our laws to determine what changes will be needed if the UK becomes a third country overnight."

Tánaiste Simon Coveney launching emergency “no-deal” Brexit legislation.

"It has been of such importance to both my wife and myself that we too should visit Ireland so often over these past few years — to experience and celebrate as best we can the unparalleled bonds between our two countries and to highlight just what a fundamental difference they make to us all. And I must say I'm slightly amazed to find that we've managed to visit 15 counties already. I am quite determined before I drop dead or finally lose my marbles that I should get around to the remaining 17.”

Prince Charles, speaking at the Irish Embassy in London in April. His surprising mathematics seemed to indicate that in his view there is one Ireland with 32 counties.

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Prince Charles enjoyed a trip to the Irish Embassy in London

“Brexit has many downsides, but I think it will be nice for the Irish to watch a British famine.”

Frankie Boyle, speaking in January when warnings were issued that a no-deal Brexit could lead to acute food shortages.

“I am however left with a question: ‘Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get us to this point?’

Part of Fr Martin Magill’s address at the funeral of Lyra McKee, the journalist killed in Derry during rioting in the Creggan.

"I can't tell you how shocked I am about this decision. I think it's going to shake the very core vote of the DUP to the foundations. The party is making a very clear statement here by this selection and it fundamentally undermines the values and traditions of the party. . . . There is no ambiguity, that this lifestyle is not endorsed biblically."

DUP MLA Jim Wells speaking after the party announced that Alison Bennington, an openly gay woman, was to run for the DUP in the council elections. Four DUP members quit the party on foot of the announcement.

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"The Good Friday accord is alive and well – just like our commitment to protect it. Here is the most important place we could ever be, this Good Friday."

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi speaking in Belfast.

“There must be more people in the Tuam area who know more about the burials arrangement than was made available to the Commission.”

Katherine Zappone, Ireland’s Minister for Children after the report on the Mother and Baby Homes Commission investigations into the notorious burials associated with the Tuam maternity institution.

“I hope that Catholics will continue to speak up on behalf of those at risk of execution and pray for all those affected.”

Bishop Declan Ronan Lang of the Clifton Diocese, Bristol, welcoming the international decline in capital punishment round the world. Bishop Lang is the lead Catholic Bishop for International Affairs on capital punishment.

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Colm Toibin shared news of his health (Pic: Brigitte Lacombe)

“I went to the bathroom and looked at the scarecrow in the mirror. I hardly knew what to say to him. “

Writer Colm Tóibín on his appearance after cancer treatment.

“Two out of three support Northern Ireland remaining in the European Union, two out of three support the backstop, I have heard that message — I hope the British Government and British people have heard that message too, because it has been heard here in Brussels."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking after the European Elections saw two Remain MEPs elected in Northern Ireland against only one Leave.

Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
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“That’s what I would ask because I know there are people in this country who know that it wasn’t me. It was the culprit and I know they are sitting on that, and my prayer has been that the truth will come out.”

English journalist Ian Bailey, after being convicted by a French court of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork in 1996.

“But I do know we [the British Army] don’t do conspiracies.”

General Sir Mike Jackson, a captain in the British Army at the time of the Ballymurphy Massacre, speaking at the inquest of the ten people killed. His statement was greeted with laughter from the public gallery.

"Just to be clear: I'm not looking for damages - I was only looking to have my medical expenses recouped. And I was never looking for compensation.”

Maria Bailey TD
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Maria Bailey TD (Fine Gael) speaking on RTÉ about her claim for €60,000 compensation for falling off a swing at a Dublin hotel. Ms Bailey dropped her claim amidst widespread condemnation, but was subsequently deselected by the Fine Gael National Executive as a candidate in the next Irish general election.

"I apologise to all the people who have bought tickets and supported the Feis, all the artists performing and all the people who have worked on this event for the inconvenience.”

Impresario Vince Power apologises for the cancellation of Feis Liverpool.

“It’s a good way to live — to live in the moment, live for the day.”

Christy Dignam, frontman with Aslan. Christy was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer.

“This individual, who had worked in the NIO for between 15 and 20 years, claimed that under human rights legislation it was unfair to him to have to work where he was offended by portraits.”

Lord Magennis of Drumglass, commenting on claims that an NIO civil servant was paid £10,000 for being offended by portraits of the Queen and Prince Philip hung in the office.

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Aidan Turner addressed the issue of being mobbed by women

“I never feel my safety is in question. I never feel like I need to get out of there. I don't get scared, so it's different. Whereas a woman might, if it happened with 20 guys crowding around her.”

Actor Aidan Turner speaking about his popularity with the opposite sex, and how he will often be mobbed by as many as twenty women at a time.

"Following enquiries, no offences have been detected in relation to a video that was circulated online."

PSNI Superintendent Mike Baird confirmed that detectives were not pursuing anyone in relation to an incident where players on the Tyrone GAA team sang rebel songs, including Come Out Ye Black and Tans, as they passed a loyalist accordion band. 

“I have found myself taking a particular position with regard to same-sex marriage, which was forced upon me when my elder daughter got married to her girlfriend."

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Lord Trimble (DUP), former First Minister of Northern Ireland, makes a surprising contribution to the same-sex marriage debate.

“It is a unique place where people have a birthright to identify themselves as British or Irish or both. Its people did not vote for Brexit. A no-deal Brexit will devastate the Northern Irish economy with tariffs and rules that will fundamentally disrupt the all-island economy upon which so much progress has been built.”

The Tánaiste, Simon Coveney 

“It’s really important to remind ourselves that we’ve had centuries of close collaboration. London is the most Irish city outside of Ireland. We’re very proud of our Irish heritage. We have the biggest St Patrick’s Day celebrations every year.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

"Creating an advent calendar from some of our most beautiful diamond products has been a huge milestone for us, with each piece hand-selected to ensure the utmost beauty and sparkle in every drawer.”

May Ingram, store manager at Beaverbrook’s Jeweller’s Belfast, speaking about diamond-a-day Advent calendar that comes with a hefty price tag of £100,000.

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“The company was entirely unaware that the trailer was to be used in the manner in which it appears to have been.”

A statement from Irish trucking company Global Trailer Rentals Ltd (GTR). A lorry belonging to the company is implicated in he deaths of 39 people who are believed to have been trying to reach the UK.

Rory McIlroy

“Even though the Olympics is giving me this choice, there really wasn’t a choice because all I’ve done throughout my life was play golf for Ireland. And why would that change just because the tournament’s changed?”

Rory McIlroy, confirming that he will represent Ireland at the 2020 Olympics.

“We abhor violence and the use of violence, always have done, and always will do. We do not have any truck with anybody who would advocate that sort of thing, therefore we stand on law and order and respect for the law and everybody is equal under the law and we have always been very clear about that.”

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DUP leader Arlene Foster referring to threats of an “armed struggle” by loyalists if an “economic united Ireland” were to ensue in the wake of a Brexit deal.

“I am concerned about right-wing extremism. We can see evidence of it on our shores as we have seen it spread across Europe. We’re not immune to it. Our response to hate crime and extremism is very important.”

Garda Síochána Commissioner Drew Harris