By Mark O’Brien (@markjsobrien)
MOST of the country woke up bleary-eyed and empty of pocket to return to work yesterday morning.
The January Blues have probably set in already for most people in Ireland – but fear not. 2016 is going to be an exciting year and there are a number of events on the horizon that we can look forward to.
Here, we pick out five things that are sure to have the country talking over the next twelve months.
The 1916 Commemorations
— MerrionStreet.ie (@merrionstreet) January 1, 2016
RTÉ’s five part series Rebellion aired its first episode on Sunday night and there are plenty more events to come to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising. There will be formal commemorative events, historical events, art, culture and schools programmes to enjoy over the coming year, with the centrepiece being the Easter Sunday Ceremony at the GPO. Full details of all events can be found at ireland.ie.
Let’s hope there are more moments like Shane Long’s goal against Germany to celebrate in the summer when Irleand head to France for the European Championships. We’re in a tough group with Sweden, Belgium and Italy and after the chastening experience that was the last Euros, Irish fans won’t be getting overconfident. However, we’re sure to have huge support and with Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane masterminding things, we just might sneak into the next round. Just don’t go singing if we’re getting a hammering or Roy might come after you.
The General Election
We still don’t know when it will be but it must be no later than 8 April so it can’t be too far away. The fun and games have already started with Labour’s proposed election ad and there’s sure to be a whole lot more bitching and sniping between now and the election as parties scrabble and squabble for votes. Will this be the year that Ireland votes for a change or will we end up with more of the same? The only way to make sure you have your say is to get out and vote.
Ireland could be in for a decent medal haul at this summer’s Olympics in Rio. It will be a surprise if Katie Taylor doesn’t add to the gold that she won in London four years ago and in spite of the messy departure of Bill Walsh last year, there are still a few other boxers, such as Michael Conlon and Paddy Barnes, that will be in the medal hunt. Annalise Murphy came agonisingly close to winning a medal in 2012 and hopes are high for her this time around – and with a certain Mr. R McIlroy representing us in the golf tournament, there could be plenty of reasons to celebrate this August.
Yes, pay rises. According to the Matrix Recruitment Group’s Annual Salary Expectations Survey, 66% of Irish workers are expecting a pay rise in 2016. But don’t get your hopes up just yet – only 38% of the respondents to the previous year’s salary who said they expected a pay rise actually got one so maybe it’s best not to plan that extravagant holiday or new car just yet.