So, in summary. Best MLA was Naomi Long for her speechcraft and fluent (and combative) contributions to Assembly debates. And for getting Alliance noticed! The up and coming politician was Daithi McKay for his work on the Giant’s Causeway controversy (his one of three winners whose award related explicitly to that particular issue). Local Council was Belfast City Council, for scale and profile and running a tidy fiscal ship but also for its leadership role in the Open Cities initiative. Deirdre Nelson, one of a new generation of outward looking local councillors likely to make the jump when 26 become 11. David Gordon by proving that not everyone in the world of mainstream media has succumbed to ‘Churnalism’ (he came through in one of the strongest shortlists of the whole Awards – who says good journalism is dead?). Blogospheres are like newspapers, sometimes the best stories are on page 17, not the front splash.Best blogger was Mr Nevin Taggart, who by diligence and close attention to local affairs proves that you don’t have to be big to be clever!
The committees will only prosper if there is a culture of genuine independence encouraged to grow and prosper. Danny Kennedy was recognised as one of the best early exponents of independence and thoroughness. In a highly competitive and reductive marketplace the Fermanagh based Impartial Reporter has stuck to its last and consistently brings real news and strong analysis to its local readership. And Peter Robinson best external rep for marshalling his disparate band of troops and leaving Westminister a calling card that he’s now the man back in town. But it a very very close run thing between him and Jim Allister.
Finally kudos for the Assembly Commission who came in person to collect its jobsworth award at the end of the night and getting me off the hook for my (apparently) tedious “play the ball and the man routine”!
I just hope that future Jobsworth Awards come up to collect their prize with the same grace!
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty