Most popular UTV stories in 2013

Published Tuesday, 31 December 2013
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As the year draws to a close, we reveal the 13 most read UTV stories of 2013.

Most popular UTV stories in 2013
Clashes involved loyalists and republican crowds in Belfast in August (© Pacemaker)

Traffic to the site has more than doubled in the past year, as more and more people from Northern Ireland and beyond follow UTV's online and social media coverage each month.

Around 125 million pages have been viewed on u.tv and our mobile platforms in the past 12 months, which saw Northern Ireland organise a peaceful G8 and very "friendly" Police and Fire Games, celebrate Derry-Londonderry as the first UK City of Culture, mark 15 years since the Good Friday agreement, commemorate the 20th anniversaries of the Shankill bomb and Greysteel massacre, and mourn or react to the deaths of Seamus Heaney, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela.

On New Year's Eve all-party talks designed to resolve contentious issues still affecting the Northern Ireland peace process failed at the end of a year which saw the flag row rumble on, the deepening of the parade dispute in north Belfast, the scrapping of the Maze peace centre and more dissident attacks across the region.

There was also horsemeat in burgers, snow blizzards in March and a warm summer.

But which UTV news stories of 2013 got the most clicks online?

Here's our top 13 most popular:

13. Go-ahead given for major Belfast protest

(Wednesday 20 November 2013) - The Parades Commission gives the go-ahead for a major loyalist protest in Belfast city centre on one of the busiest Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas. The watchdog allowed a group calling itself Loyalist Peaceful Protesters to organise the demonstration on 30 November to mark one year since the decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag at City Hall. The event passed off without major incident in the city centre, though the determination was breached and two officers were injured in north Belfast on the day.

12. Body found on beach in Co Down

(Sunday 15 December 2013) - Ten days before Christmas, the body of a man is found on a Co Down beach. The discovery was made on Ballyholme Beach in Bangor on a Sunday morning. The death was not treated as suspicious by police.

11. Delivery driver dies in Belfast shooting

(Sunday 31 March 2013) - A Domino's delivery driver is shot dead outside a takeaway shop in west Belfast. Kieran McManus, 26, was gunned down at close range by a masked gunman. The father-of-one, who was known to police, was shot a number of times by the lone attacker as he was placing a pizza delivery into the rear of his car. Speaking at his funeral, a priest pleaded for an end to violence after his "brutal and horrific death".

10. Belfast mum brutally beaten in rape bid

(Tuesday 19 November 2013) - A mother-of-three gives an emotional interview to UTV appealing for help to catch the three men who beat her "from head to toe" and tried to rape her, not far from her north Belfast home. Donna Hawkins, 52, was walking home from a night out when she was attacked and sexually assaulted off the Crumlin Road. She had been attending a family function with her husband, who was just a few minutes behind her. "Whoever was attacking me thought they were picking on someone drunk, but that wasn't the case," she said. A candle-lit vigil was later organised in Ardoyne to show support.

9. 130lb bomb meant for shopping centre

(Monday 25 November 2013) - There is widespread condemnation after a 130lb proxy car bomb intended to blow up the underground car park of one of Belfast's main shopping centres is left outside Victoria Square on a Sunday night. A hijacked driver was ordered to take the primed device in the back of his car from Ardoyne to Belfast city centre by three masked men in boilersuits, who warned him that he would be followed. "It could have been catastrophic for Belfast and Northern Ireland", police said after the attempted bomb attack. The device partially exploded during efforts to make it safe.

8. 26 PSNI officers hurt in Belfast clashes

(Friday 09 August 2013) - Police officers and members of the public are injured in violent clashes as hundreds of loyalists protested in Belfast over an anti-internment rally. Thousands of Republicans took part in the Anti-Internment League rally, while six loyalist organisations held counter protests. Missiles were thrown at police lines from both sides. DUP MLA Nelson McCausland said the march was organised "by a dissident republican rabble" to "provoke a violent loyalist reaction", while Sinn Féin's deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness blamed the "combined forces of the UVF and the Orange Order" for the disorder in the city centre.

7. Eyewitness 'lucky' after city bomb blast

(Friday 13 December 2013) - An eyewitness tells UTV she is lucky to be alive after she saw the moment a small bomb in a holdall, which police say had the potential to kill or maim, exploded on the pavement outside her apartment in the busy Cathedral Quarter in Belfast. The dissident bomb attack took place during the run-up to Christmas and the device fully exploded outside a restaurant in front of evacuated revellers. No-one was injured, but police said the warning they received gave the wrong location for the bomb.

6. 33 petrol bombs thrown in flag trouble

(Friday 11 January 2013) - Police officers are injured after more than 30 petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown during a night of serious disorder which followed loyalist flag protests in Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey. The violence erupted on the night a large number of protests took place throughout Northern Ireland, causing major road disruption across the region, as part of so-called 'Operation Standstill'.

5. Gardaí investigate Slane girl images

(Tuesday 20 August 2013) - Gardaí investigate the situation involving a teenage girl caught on camera performing sex acts at a gig at Slane. The pictures went viral after being posted on social networking sites, causing them to trend around the world on Twitter.

4. Rolex drug warning after sudden death

(Friday 27 December 2013) - Police investigating the sudden death of DJ Gerard Mulholland during a party in Twinbrook on the outskirts of west Belfast say yellow ecstasy type tablets should be disposed of "immediately and safely". Four men were also hospitalised after falling ill amid reports they also took "speckled Rolex" during the Christmas house party.

3. Bernie Nolan at home for final days

(Sunday 24 March 2013) - Irish singer Bernie Nolan returns to her home in Surrey to live out her final days with family after doctors ruled there was nothing further they could do in her cancer battle. She passed away at the beginning of July at the age of 52, with all of her family around her. Born in Dublin but raised in Blackpool, she was the lead singer of 70s pop group The Nolans, along with her sisters Coleen, Linda, Maureen, Anne and Denise. "The entire family are devastated to have lost beloved Bernie, a wonderful wife, adoring mother and loving sister, she is irreplaceable," a spokesman said after her death.

2. Mum's heartbreak after birth trauma

(Wednesday 11 December 2013) - The mother of a baby boy who suffered horrifying injuries during his stillbirth at Belfast's Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital speaks of her heartbreak to UTV. Medical staff had put his chances of survival at just 5%, but nothing could have prepared the couple for what happened in the delivery suite, the details of which viewers may find disturbing.

1. Baby dies in horror birth at Royal

(Tuesday 10 December 2013) - A distraught father calls for an inquest into the death of his baby son after the horror of his traumatic birth at Belfast's Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital. Patrick McCormack spoke to UTV just 24 hours after his girlfriend Louise gave birth to their son. The Belfast Trust believes that the baby was clinically dead at the point of delivery. In a statement, they offered heartfelt and sincere sympathies to the family. "We do not underestimate how painful this situation is for them," a spokeswoman said. "This has also been a harrowing time for our staff who, throughout a very unusual set of circumstances, have endeavoured to give the best possible care."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
5 Comments
Rod in Bfast wrote (108 days ago):
Headline grabbing is one thing, what utv needs to do this year is dig deeper into a story, find the background to a story, follow up on a story, find out who and what was effected by the story, a bit more in-depth journalism if you like. People also need to be able to interact a lot more on the stories that are covered, as that gives an idea of the mindset of some of the people directly involved in the stories or people just looking in from afar.
Dan in Glasgow (originally Belfast) wrote (108 days ago):
Given the context of each individual story, I wouldn't say "popular" is an appropriate choice of adjective. "Most read" maybe?
Derrybhoy in Derry wrote (109 days ago):
Where's all the good news stories from Derry, what about the BIGGEST & Best Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, what about city of culture, The Turner Prize, lumiere etc.....
Chris in Belfast wrote (109 days ago):
Thanks to all at u.tv for all your professional work throughout 2013. From all of us in Northern Ireland. Lets hope theres better news to make the headlines in 2014.
fuiu in Belfast wrote (109 days ago):
I thought the mcollum connelly story in peru would have been up there?! Very strange, oh hold on it was liquidised into 39,000 stories! Lol dot com blow your own trumpet you bore me dot tv
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