AN investigation by a young journalist which exposed discrepancies in how coroners record suicides has captured the inaugural Vincent Doyle Award for Investigative Journalism.
Craig Hughes (21), from Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, was last night celebrating the award which was named in memory of the late Irish Independent editor Vinnie Doyle.
Mr Hughes is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of Limerick (UL).
At a ceremony in UL yesterday, Irish Independent senior deputy editor Eddie Cunningham announced the winner.
Mr Cunningham said: "I was privileged to work elbow to elbow with Vinnie for years and he would be quietly proud that an exciting young journalist was the recipient of an award in his name."
The event was attended by Vinnie Doyle's wife Gertie and her three sons; Garret and wife Ange, Conor and his wife Marion and Vinnie Jnr.
Mrs Doyle said her family were "very humbled and privileged" that her late husband was honoured by the university in such a manner.
Garret Doyle, chief executive officer with Independent Colleges, said his father would be "secretly delighted" that the award was created.
"He would be very proud of the journalism students here. You are the pioneers here -- remain true to the craft of writing in whatever form it takes," Mr Doyle urged.
Mr Hughes, whose report was published in the 'Sunday Independent' earlier this month, said he hoped to pursue a full-time career in journalism.
"I never knew Vinnie Doyle, but it would be impossible not to know of his legacy. I am delighted to receive such a prestigious award in his honour," he said.
"I would like to thank Tom Felle, head of journalism at UL, for his guidance as well as Liam Collins, news editor of the 'Sunday Independent', for his support and trust," Mr Hughes said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny also offered his congratulations to the recipient. "This is a really wonderful achievement and I anticipate that it will mark the beginning of a very successful career," Mr Kenny said.
Mr Felle described Vinnie Doyle as an editor who had ink in his veins. "Today's award honours excellence in the field of investigative journalism -- a trait that Vinnie valued highly."
Mr Hughes is due to graduate from UL this year along with 21 other journalism students.
Aisling Hussey (21), from Ballyheigue, Co Kerry, was runner-up. Ms Hussey was shortlisted for the award for a probe into health services in Kerry.
Vinnie Doyle, who died in 2010, served as editor of the Irish Independent from 1981 to 2005, making him one of the longest serving editors in the Irish newspaper industry.