Political editor, Daniel McConnell, and political reporter, Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, won the Justice Media Award in the daily newspapers category yesterday, for their investigation called Saving Grace.
Their series of reports exposed the story of a woman with severe intellectual disabilities who suffered sexual abuse in an Irish foster home between the late 1980s and 2009.
“The impact of this reporting was tremendous — leading directly to the direct interventions of An Taoiseach, the Garda Commissioner, an emergency Dáil debate and the establishment of a state commission of inquiry. The investigation also led to a long-awaited and hard-won apology from the HSE for its handling of the case. The authors richly deserve this award,” said a spokesperson from the Law Society of Ireland, which co-ordinates the awards.
Irish Examiner editor, Tim Vaughan, said: “This award is welcome recognition for those who worked on the lengthy and challenging investigation. It also emphasises our continued commitment to highlighting issues — no matter how difficult — which matter to our society as a whole.”
The Justice Media Awards, now in their 25th year, are open to print, radio, online, and TV journalists.
The Justice Media Overall Award went to Frank Shouldice and Liam O’Brien of RTÉ Radio One, for their documentary The Case That Never Was. It covers a district court case, taken by a Polish man against his employer, which ended up going all the way to the European Court of Justice. However, the Polish man, Bogdan Chain, says he never took the case.
The Evening Echo’s Ann Murphy was the winner of the Justice Media Award in the regional newspapers category for her series on The Drugs Question — What Next?
“Arising out of interviews with those recovering from drug addiction, this journalist closely examines the current system of criminalisation of drug possession and asks if there are better ways to tackle the drug problem,” said a spokesperson from the Law Society of Ireland.
The value system of her employer was also commended. “An important body of work from one of the best journalists in the country — last year’s overall winner — this piece displays an outstanding commitment to balanced, well-researched, thought-provoking reporting on real issues of concern, which prompts real debate. The judges also noted that the work reflects the admirable value system of this journalist’s employer and once again, the judges commend this paper for its contribution to legal journalism of the highest standard,” said the spokesperson.
Law Society president, Simon Murphy, said the media plays an important role in terms of increasing the public’s understanding of the legal system: “The investment of time, energy and resources in producing articles, programmes, investigations and research that help to inform and educate Irish citizens on justice and law is a very valuable investment.”