Sunday 25 September 2016

Our top writers triumph at justice awards

Published 26/06/2016 | 02:30

Honoured: Shane Phelan, Legal Affairs Editor of the Irish Independent; Sunday newspaper section award winner Dearbhail McDonald, INM Group Business Editor; and certificate of merit winner Maeve Sheehan, correspondent with the Sunday Independent
Honoured: Shane Phelan, Legal Affairs Editor of the Irish Independent; Sunday newspaper section award winner Dearbhail McDonald, INM Group Business Editor; and certificate of merit winner Maeve Sheehan, correspondent with the Sunday Independent

Three journalists writing for the Sunday Independent were honoured at the prestigious Law Society of Ireland Justice Media Awards.

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The winner of the Justice Media Award in the Sunday Newspapers category was INM Group Business Editor Dearbhail McDonald for her compelling Sunday Independent article "Medical negligence - a suitable case for treatment".

The judges said that Dearbhail's article was the "stand-out piece" in this hotly contested category.

In a glowing citation, they described the article as a strong example of Dearbhail's skilled handling of complex and emotive legal issues, combining her thorough knowledge of the topic with a strong, reasoned personal stance in very clear and engaging terms.

"Paying tribute to the tenacity of solicitors who work on behalf of those who suffer catastrophic injury at birth, while identifying the legislative gaps that create heartache and hardship for families, and place clinicians in extremely difficult positions, this journalist paints a passionate, balanced and sharp picture of the landscape for those seeking redress for birth injuries. Educational, informative, detailed but accessible - and steeped in public interest - this article is richly deserving of the Justice Media Award," the citation added.

Two other articles which appeared in the Sunday Independent also won awards for their writers.

Maeve Sheehan was honoured for an article headlined "Murder and suspicion linger in West Cork".

The judges said Maeve's article was both well-written and informative "drawing together details from the day Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found dead near her West Cork holiday home, the Garda investigation into her death, and the case taken by Ian Bailey against the State on foot of that investigation".

The citation said that Maeve's compelling article was "a strong example of presenting a very complex, and at times extra- ordinary, legal story to the public in a clear, balanced way."

The third writer to be honoured was Shane Phelan for his report "Our disturbed children are being sent abroad because we can't cope".

The judging panel said the Sunday Independent article tackled the complex topic of children and young people with difficult mental health and behaviour issues with the author using compelling real-life stories of Irish teenagers being sent to the UK for treatment, sometimes being detained abroad for several years.

The citation continued: "Shining a light on an area of the legal system rarely revealed, the journalist outlines the challenges involved in meeting the needs of these young people, the lack of adequate facilities in Ireland, and the role of the judiciary in their fates. It also looks at the impact being away from home has on those sent away.

At the awards ceremony, the President of the Law Society Simon Murphy said: "We believe it is vitally important to recognise, reward and encourage excellence in legal journalism. The media is crucial in trying to increase the public's understanding of law and the legal system. We must therefore strive for the highest standards possible. 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."

Sunday Independent

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