Slugger Awards: Nominations are now open…

So, as we get to the end of the year, we finally get to unveil the new Awards categories. Thanks to all of you who took the time to propose them and especially to those brave few who made their ways out through the snow last Friday to help shortlist the new categories; not least Quintin Oliver from Stratagem who deputised for me at the last moment.

So, here they are, mixed with some familiar old ones. We’ll be running threads for each of these between now and the Big Breakfast event at the Europa on the 13th January where we’ll run a cabaret type event and we’ll be shortlisting the candidates. But certainly you can give us your starter for ten.

Just remember to keep it positive!


Challenge your own Community’. For courageous positioning which seeks to shine a light on the accepted truths of its own community in order to help us understand the ‘other’ better, or point towards ‘shared solutions’.

Investigative journalism’. Those occasions when journalists have been prepared to look behind the press releases of an organization and dig out what the whole or true story is. We are looking for tenacity and investment in the story over a period of time.

Political Journalist of the Year’. Overall the journalist who has contributed most in the last year. Past winners: David Gordon; Julia Paul.


Building trust and credibility in politics’: For examples of trust building, rather than relying on blind tribal faith, by engaging directly and openly with communities or constituency groups. It also might include participatory initiatives, and admitting limitations or even failures.

Constructive opposition’. Opposition is tough in Stormont’s. But constructive opposition where politicians have pointed to flaws, whilst offering practical alternatives is crucial to the credibility of the institutions.

Up and Coming Politician’: This is an opportunity to talent scout the talent of the future. This year there is a large new intake of co-opted MLAs, so there should be some good candidates to pick from. Past winners: Naomi Long; Dawn Purvis.

Public and voluntary bodies:

Thinker and Explainer’ – A conversational approach to public policy – rewarding organisations that have sought to make policy issues understandable to a wider audience, thereby increasing the capacity to participate.

‘Creative engagement’ – For the organisation that has most effectively built a positive consensus behind the need for some form of practical change or collective action.

‘Campaign of the Year’ – Best and most innovative example of a successful public campaign.

And finally:

‘Politician of the Year’ – Overall the most senior award, open to Northern Irish politicians at all levels of government, and assemblies. Past winners: Peter Robinson; Martin McGuinness.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Challenge Your Own Community: Dawn Purvis for her resignation from the PUP.

    Investigative Journalism: Suzanne Breen, for a number of reasons.

    Political Journalist of the Year: Alan in Belfast, for his coverage of the Party conferences.

    Constructive Opposition: Brian Wilson, for punching above his weight and avoiding populism.

    Politician of the Year: Sammy Wilson – I don’t like what he does, but he does it well.

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks for that Damian. You’ve broken our duck. Any more for any more?

  • A couple for Challenge Your Own Community, seemingly small scale but still important I think in the longer term picture:

    Basil McCrea’s appearance at Amnesty’s Pride Talk Back couple of weeks before the UUP election vote; didn’t have to do it and most certainly didn’t get any more votes because he did it/

    Sinn Fein at Queen’s recently hosted a debate in relation to the Government of Ireland Act. In comparison to the big set pieces like we’ve seen in W and E Belfast, very low key and zero positive publicity or votes to be garnered by any Unionist rep attending. Yet John McCallister did turn up and speak to an almost 100% Republican audience.

    The important thing in both cases is that neither *had* to attend and engage and most certainly wouldn’t have got majority approval in their “community” for doing so… but they still did it.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Not a big fan of awards as inevitably they look a little smug and back slapping. As well as carrying a curse of Gnome within them.

    Political Journalist of the Year: Mick Fealty. Yes why not. We tend to take him for granted but this site is testimony to him. Often let down by the quality and quantity of the people around him, he has an element of downright decency about him……….and that is the only nice thing I am going to say about him for another 12 months.

    Politician of the Year: Barry McElduff…..although its hard to look past a joint award for Margaret Ritchie and Tom Elliott.
    They ended up leading their parties.

    Challenge Your Own Community: Surely Margaret Ritchie with that whole wearing a poppy thing and not being afraid to say “North…….Northern Ire…..” Sorry Im not afraid to say it either but Hell will freeze over before I do.

    Investigative Journalism: I dont follow that kinda thing.
    Constructive Opposition: The 2010 Group

  • Mick Fealty


    Thanks, but I rule myself inadmissible in this compo. That really would be gratuitously self back slapping.

    2010 Group? I missed that. Any links?

  • Wasted Ballot

    Frankly since you made marty mcguinnes politician if the year last time I’ve no interest in taking partwhen it is likely you already have decided who the prizes are going to.

  • Mick Fealty

    We took a lot of stick for that decision last year, then two weeks after we did, McGuinness topped a Belfast Telegraph poll (something like 23% rating with the next politicians coming in around single figures). You have to lay politics aside and look at the core skillsets underneath. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t nominate or vote.

    Peter Robinson won it the year before, and Jim Allister ran both men close both years. There were some complaints about that too.

    I’m only the chair of the judging panel. But generally the discussions have been open, competitive and marked by vigorous argument. But its in the nature of these things that not everyone is going to be happy with the decisions we end up making.

    Now, any more for any more?

  • bittersweet

    Challenging their own community-Dawn Purvis

    Investigative Journalism-Jamie Delargy for N.I.W story

    Up And Coming Politician-Conall Mc Davitt

    Politician of the Year – Naomi Long

  • Chris Donnelly

    I can see where you’re coming from with both nominations, but I would have to wonder whether it’s more appropriate to nominate those inviting the speakers as opposed to the speakers themselves.

    After all, if the assembled audiences are predominantly of an opinion quite distinct from that of the speaker, then it is surely the organisers who are challenging their own communities by inviting them to hear at first hand the articulation of opinions they may not like.

  • You have a point but neither the organisers of Pride Talk Back nor the Ogra event at Queens are offering themselves up to the wider “communal” electorate- in other words, I think they have less to lose than either McCrea or McCallister.

  • Constructive opposition: John Dallat for the Public Accounts Committee work into NI Water.

  • Mick Fealty

    Guys, come on. Less comment, more nominations!!

  • Rocketeer

    Challenging their own community:
    Could Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson be nominated for this award on the basis of their increasingly positive and responsible joint performance as First and Deputy First Minister this year?

    Investigative Journalism: Suzanne Breen
    Political Journalist of the Year: Eamonn Mallie
    Up and Coming Politician: Simon Hamilton (DUP)
    Politician of the Year: Peter Robinson (DUP)

  • DC

    ‘Up and Coming Politician’ – Raymond McCord Senior
    Campaign of the Year’ – Raymond McCord Senior – Justice for Raymond

  • granni trixie

    “Challenging Your Own Community Award”: I didnt want to be the one to make the suggestion …but…Naomi Long challenged the East Belfast community where she grew up by stating that if they voted for her they would not be voting for someone who presented themselves as ‘ a Unionist” but as something more (or as a Lib Dem thankfully,as it turns out).

  • Gerry Coyle

    Whether it is politician of the year or building trust and credibility in politics surely this will be the year the SDLP break their duck in the Slugger Awards in the form of Mark Durkan. Unlike others including some in his own party he has remained true to his word on double jobbing; easily held his Foyle Westminster seat and was obviously the brains behind the SDLP’s economic proposals which granted where last year but given they contained ideas such as raiding the harbour commission reserves, selling off DRD car parks and public sector pay restraint it is not surprising they have formed the thininking of the current Executive budget. He came into his own during the Robinson affair and Hillsborough negotiations where he stood out as a politician of vision and integrity.
    If Martin McGuinness can receive politician of the year on the basis of one line of a press conference outside Stormont Castle then Durkan (who has been condemning dissidents as traitors for a lifetime) must merit an award for two outstanding speeches in the past 12 months. Firstly his farewell address as SDLP leader was an impassioned and insiprational plea to young people not to give up on politics and a fine example of how one person can make a difference in society. And if any politician north or south or even east or west has given a bettter address than Durkan did on the day of the Saville report then please let me see it. View for yourself – Durkan spoke for his city, his community and his country that day. Simply superb.

    On a post script while most people will struggle to look beyong the obvious for up and coming politician in McDevitt, McKay, Givan etc my nominee would be young Colum Eastwood definitely one to watch at the next assembly election and a superb first citizen for Derry in the wake of Saville the city of Culture, and dissident attacks.

    Journo of the Year – Suzanne Breen/Jamie Delargy for asking the questions others were afraid to or not clever enough to.

  • granni trixie

    Msark Durcan came to leadership of the SDLP too early and the sdlp paid the price. What a mess.

  • Salem-is-here

    ‘Challenge your own Community’ – Dawn Purvis .
    “Investigative journalism’ – Jamie Delargly NIW Water
    ‘Political Journalist of the Year – Martina Purdy
    ‘Building trust and credibility in politics’: – Steven Agnew
    ‘Constructive opposition’ – Conall McDevitt – NIW WATER
    ‘Up and Coming Politician’: Barry McElduff MLA
    ‘Politician of the Year’ – Mark Durkan MP – Speech on Bloody Sunday and his continuing support for Students.

  • No local newspaper/any newspaper award?

    For sheer entertainment and light heartedness Barry McElduff MUST get an award…for his acceptance speech alone.

    Although it’s Mark Durkan for politician of the year.

  • Okay, Mick – I’ve tried really hard to come up with worthy nominees for all the categories and have (nearly) succeeded…

    ‘Challenge your own Community’. Hmmm… can’t think of any good media examples, but among politicians I would nominate Basil McCrea for his speech at the UUP annual conference making a strong case for a better understaning and appreciation of human rights and the importance of a human rights-based approach to policing.

    “Investigative journalism’: Suzanne Breen for her consistent, relentless digging into the murky affairs of republican paramilitary groups, past and present

    ‘Political Journalist of the Year’. Stephen Nolan. There may be loads of things not to like about the Nolan Show, but week in, week out, it is Stephen (and his team) who help set the political agenda and most effectively challenge the politicians.

    ‘Building trust and credibility in politics’: Dawn Purvis MLA, firstly for giving politics pre-eminence over paramilitarism in quitting the leadership of the PUP after the killing of Bobby Moffett and, secondly, for trying to enforce a bar on double-jobbing through her Assembly Bill.

    ‘Constructive opposition’: John Dallat MLA for his well-executed opposition in challenging ministerial action on issues such as NI Water (debacles #1 and #2) and development plans for Knock Golf Course

    ‘Up and Coming Politician’: Conall McDevitt MLA, not just for being a good communicator, but also for his work across a range of issues, including the need for an inquiry into institutional child abuse in NI, on which, I know, he has played a very valuable role.

    Public and voluntary bodies
    ‘Thinker and Explainer’ – NICVA for their Smart Solutions in Tough Times process of engaging the voluntary and community sector on the government’s cuts agenda.

    ‘Creative engagement’ – the successful Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 bid. Innovative, exciting, engaging and a winner.

    ‘Campaign of the Year’: the ‘Don’t be done out of your rights’ campaign in favour of a strong NI Bill of Rights, which saw high levels of support from ordinary people, despite opposition from some political and media commentators. With 35,000 postcard responses sent to the NIO’s consultation, it was the equivalent of over a million people sending in a response to a UK-wide consultation.

    ‘Politician of the Year’ – Naomi Long MP for carrying off the biggest political upset of the year with much aplomb and integrity intact.

  • Stephen Blacker

    “Challenge your own Community” – Dawn Purvis – because of the work she does with the ethnic minorities, LGBT groups and community groups other than her own.

    “Investigative journalism” – David Gordon – because he is not scared to dig the dirt on some of the most powerful people in Northern Ireland.

    “Political Journalist of the Year” – Brian Rowan – because he consistantly brings us articles with an honesty that few journalists do.

    “Building trust and credibility in politics” – Dawn Purvis – because of her reluctance to go with the stereotypical Unionist voting and her interaction with the public in person and most other forms of communication like Twitter and Facebook.

    “Constructive opposition” – Dawn Purvis – because of her work on educational underachievement along with the working group she has set up and also her Local Government (Disqualification) Bill.

    “Up and Coming Politician” – Conall McDevitt – because in the short space of time he has been an MLA he has profiled himself positively.

    “Thinker and Explainer” – Stratagem – because they have been organising events to bring politics and politicians closer to the public.

    “Creative engagement” – NI Youth Assembly project – because in their campaign to exsist they have shown there is the need for some form of practical change or collective action.

    “Campaign of the Year” – Derry / Londonderry City of Culture 2013 – because it is good for the city and surrounding area and also shows what can happen when the majority of people work together.

    “Politician of the Year” – Dawn Purvis – because of the above points along with her work with charities, grassroot community groups, children and young people. Doing all these things when she had to re-brand herself after leaving the PUP and during this time continued to keep her political beliefs honest with the best interests of every community at the forefront of her thoughts and deeds.

  • Sam Semple

    “Challenge your own Community” – Roy Garland. Some thought provoking pieces in the Irish News.

    “Investigative Journalist” Suzanne Breen for brave exposes of the dark morality free world of Republicanism

    “political journalist” Sam McBride of Newsletter. Up and coming.

    “building trust and credibility in politics” Bill Manwaring, Westminster and now Assembly candidate, working hard to reconnect underpriviledged West Belfast with the real world.

    “constructive opposition” Conall McDevitt MLA – unafraid to have a go at Sinn Fein Ministerial incompetence, unlike most of the rest of his Party.

    “up and coming” Conall McDevitt, the next leader of the SDLP

  • Wabbits

    Investigative Journalist of the year between those mentioned elsewhere would be Suzanne Breen. Although David Gordon runs a very close second.

    However, why no mention of Darragh McIntyre ?

    Politician of the year – Mark Durkan – for his Commons speech after the Saville Report publication among other reasons too numerous to mention.

  • Mick Fealty


    McIntyre has now been mentioned on the new thread, and the team at the Irish News for the travel expenses story at the Dept of Health:

    This is why we need people to give us more. I really want to challenge our Big Breakfasters with a quality field.

  • Mark McGregor

    Under Campaign of the Year I’ll nominate the CALNI campaign against the Rose Energy incinerator.

    A local campaign that refuses to go away and is fighting well against an extremely well financed proposal that has Ministerial support but almost no local backing.

    Upping their game at every turn with Court actions, cross border initiatives and raising the issue in Europe.

  • Mark McGregor

    Ok folks, someone has to do it:

    Investigative journalism: Stephen Nolan

    Love him or loath him, he does have the biggest show in the country and he crowd sources better than anyone.

    He has made the odd drama into a crisis and a crisis into a matter of (british) national importance.

    btw: I’ll not be speaking up for him at the breakfast, unless forced to by the silence of others.

  • Linda R McKee

    Creative Engagement
    PSNI Ards Facebook page has taken a very proactive approach to engagement in an appropriate way. Often done with humour and has been prepared to let conversations run in order to communicate key messages and policies to a wide audience. Over 6500 followers in ten months.

  • Linda R McKee

    “Thinker and Explainer” – Paul Smyth from Public Achievement. For their innovative approach to engaging with young people, civic life and the politician. Their WIMPS and Driving Change programmes to name but two have great potential. Paul has engagement new technologies in order to reach a new generation in a way they understand.

  • Linda R McKee

    “Creative engagement” – Innovative work of Roads Policing Maydown to engage with those most at risk of being killed or seriously injured. Key player – Insp Steve Haslett who from 2004 has worked in atypical ways to build relationships, improve driver skills, explain policies, engage etc. He has a can-do attitute and if he can make something work, he will. One of the most high profile initiative was with Limavady College and the District Policing Partnership to modify a car legally and safety and also to deliver an interactive innovative education programme. The number of young people killed and seriously injured in the north-west as a percentage of total figures has dramatically dropped and can be attributed to his approach.

  • Linda R McKee

    Campaign of the Year. PSNI, DOE sustained, appropriate hard hitting tv/radio campaign designed to tackle road safety. The face that 2010 has had the lowest number of road related fatalities in a long time indicates that something in having the desired effect.

  • Linda R McKee

    Political commentator – Ken Reid. Need to hear his opinion when something major is occuring in the policial world.

  • Linda R McKee

    ‘Political Journalist of the Year’. Brian Rowan. Always worth listening attentively too.

  • Linda R McKee

    Creative Engagement. Limavady District Policing Partnership has worked with Roads Policing and North West Regional College (Limavady) to work with young people to change their attitudes to use of the road, encourage them into motor sport and also to change attitudes to the Police and to encourage engagement with same. The 3 bodies have organised lots of road safety focused events done in a way appropriate to todays young motor enthusiast. Facebook page has almost 500 friends and organises monthly open nights promoting motor sport which attracts 50-100 people. Research has shown attitudes to use of the road and Police have changed. Now area has one of the lowest rates of young people killed or seriously injured as a % of total KSI.

  • Linda R McKee

    ‘Politician of the Year’ – Dawn Purvis for her political stand and his tenanicty on the Public Accounts Committee over NIWater.

  • Mark McGregor

    Can people not be a bit more creative and nominate organisations they are not actually connected with.

  • Mick Fealty

    @FJH (your ‘non nomination’ comment has been removed)

    What’s in and what’s out of the short-list is a matter for the good folk at the Big Political Breakfast. For now, just give us your ‘non travesty’ type nominations.

    @Everyone else

    Just keep them coming people… the more the merrier… I particularly want to get past the ‘usual suspects’… So if you’ve been lurking on Slugger for years, now’s the time to register and give us your nominations…

  • themagpie

    Politician of the Year

    Sammy Wilson – Comes across as genuinely personable as well as capable. One of the few politicians I actually trust even though I’m not a fan of most of his parties politics. He just seems to keep it real even though he will have to oversea probably the biggest budget cuts ever seen in Northern Ireland.

  • bittersweet

    Investigative journalist-Jamie Delargy

    Political Journailist- Sam McBride(If there is a category youngest/brightest journalist Sam gets my vote)

    Campaign of the Year -Patsy McGlone- Relentles pursuit of N.I.W story.

    Constructive opposition-Conall McDavitt

  • Mick Fealty

    Good stuff, but can we also have some reasoning ‘why’, as well as ‘who’?

  • granni trixie

    Campaign of the Year:Margaret McGookian (Belfast) and John McCourt (Derry) for finding a voice and giving leadership to survivors of instituional abuse. Anyone else would have been fobbed off with promises of an enquiry not delivered.

    Challenging your own community:Alan McBride has consistently voiced opinions about how to deal with the past which are not popular with other victims/survivors of the troubles.

  • A2B

    Campaign of the Year – I’d like to nominate the ‘We Agree’ campaign for a Commissioner for Older People.

    More information about this very successful and popular campaign can be found at

    Older people have had a strong voice in leading the campaign, which has received great support from politicians across all parties.