Big political breakfast: The Slugger Awards shortlist

Channel 4Politicians, journalists and community organisations are going head-to-head to collect a gong at this year’s Slugger O’Toole Political Awards, with the final nominees for each category having been announced. The awards ceremony will take place in the Black Box in Belfast on 10th February which is being kindly sponsored by Channel Four.

Three nominees for each of nine categories were chosen as an event attended by over 100 people following initial nominations that appeared here on the site. The next step is for a judging panel (details to follow) to choose the winners, who will receive their award on the awards night.

The nominees for the Slugger Awards 2011 are:

Investigative Journalism

  • Suzanne Breen: she never backs down
  • David Gordon: King of FoI
  • Darragh McIntyre for Robinson story and longstanding track-record in investigative journalism

Political Journalist of the Year

  • Eamonn Mallie for his blow-by-blow accounts, mixing both new media and old journalism
  • Mark Devenport for the Devonport Diaries – always there and the go-to-guy for Stormont
  • Brian Rowan: trusted, old-fashioned authority. Relies on facts and develops stories with real legs

Building Trust and Credibility in Politics/ Challenge your own Community

  • Dawn Purvis for her double jobbing bill as well as her move from the PUP
  • Martin McGuinness for flexibility and statesmanlike qualities for his handling of the Robinson affair
  • Conall McDevitt for his handling of the water crisis, work on public transport and communications skills

Constructive Opposition

  • Dawn Purvis as an articulate, reasoned, respectful politician, and conviction-driven, particularly on dual mandates
  • PAC team: Dawn Purvis, Patsy McGlone & John Dallat, especially for their work on NI Water issues
  • Basil McCrea, for constructive opposition within his own party

Up and Coming Politician

  • Colum Eastwood who played a strong role in the City of Culture bid and a mayor at such a young age
  • Simon Hamilton: very knowledgeable on a range of issues and forward-thinking
  • Conall McDevitt: a good communicator and very strong on committees

Creative Engagement

  • Steve Haslett of PSNI and Limavady DPP for engaging with hard-to-reach groups, helping to reduce road deaths, producing results and establishing links with Musgrave Park
  • Ards PSNI for creative use of social media e.g. facility to text to tell them your house is empty
  • DUP Party Conference for the party’s engagement with organisations and its questionnaire

Thinker and Explainer

  • Showcase at Magee for innovation, helping private sector and reducing barriers
  • William Crawley for his measured approach and his substance
  • Disability Action: a rights-based approach with good advocacy and high impact beyond their sector

Campaign of the Year

  • Derry/ Londonderry City of Culture bid put Derry on the map for a good reason and has already begun to change perceptions
  • The Older People’s Commissioner campaign: got a result and was visible
  • The Bloody Sunday campaign: didn’t choose the timescale or the result but the response was measured, which marked it out

Politician of the Year

  • Dawn Purvis for her integrity, work on PAC, position she took on UVF, stance on double-jobbing, etc
  • Naomi Long for East Belfast result and local commitment
  • Margaret Ritchie: symbolic act of wearing a poppy and not doing a pact with Sinn Féin. Also strong on child sexual abuse

Lastly, I need to thank Strategem who did a great job organising the event this morning and to UTV who were there to cover it – we hope we’ll be able to use a few clips from this morning on the awards night. It was a real pleasure to host over 100 people all thinking positively about what the awards were trying to acheive

The Awards are being held in association with public affairs company Stratagem and are sponsored by Channel 4.

Update – UTV Live’s coverage of the shortlisting …

  • The Word

    Dawn risked her life, I’m sure, Naomi risked Alliance crdibility, and Margaret changed the world forever more as the first woman leader of the SDLP and therefore the natural leader of a non-violent social democratic party.

  • redhugh78

    No doubt the representation of Republicans at the Awards will be one less than the amount of Republicans nominated.

    What a joke, seriously, Margaret Ritchie as Politician of the year? ‘..for not doing a pact with Sinn Fein..’
    Remind me how did that one go down in FST again.

    Slugger, no Republicans need apply, but we don’t really give a crap.

  • Nunoftheabove


    The shortlist is uninspiring, sure, parochialism epitomized if you ask me, but to be fair the longlist isn’t replete with talent or notable 2010-ers, SF included. Lose the self-pity though, man, your lot should be putting as much distance as they possibly can from their collective perseceution complex (marginally less becoming than its flipside, their smugness) at this stage of the game.

  • andnowwhat

    Totally agree with you Redhugh.

    Suanne Breen did such a greeat job (along with UTV) that the subject of one of her stories will probably not have to strand trialdue to dury selection rules. Try finding 12 men and women good and true who has not heard at least some of the details? That’s bad journalism in the extreme.

    Margaret Ritchie? Is this the 70’s?The political glass ceiling was shattered by one Margaret Hilda Thatcher decades ago.

    Mc Devitt is a symbol of everything that is wrong in modern politics.

    Dawn only risked her life if the UVF actually gave a toss about the PUP project, which they didn’t.

    Naomi Long was the beneficiary of a protest vote. Do people really think that E Belfast has lept so far? In fairness, she did trounce Vancy in to oblivion.

    Speaking of oblivion, can we not have a special award for Tom Elliot?

  • Nunoftheabove


    Yes I’ll second the oblivion motion on Elliot; should be a contender in Comic Book Guy’s “Best Worst Political Appointment Ever” shortlist. May also qualify as a nominee on the Cross-Community Public Service ticket, what for accelerating the eventual melt-down of the worthless Unionist Party by virtue of his successful leadership bid and all…

  • Great to see you this morning Mick – we had a great debate on Politician of the Year

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ok havn’t read the nominations yet, scrolled down here first just to state that a nomination process involving a Breakfast meeting in Belfast is hardly conducive to a fair representation of views from outside of Greater Belfast.

    (I will probably now read the nominations and discover I was wrong! but doubt that will be the case )

  • The Raven

    All these naysayers…didn’t y’all have the opportunity to nominate and then attend?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ok, half right, most of the personalities are Belfast based but there seems to be a good smattering of causes from the North West, would have loved to add to the debates but just wasn’t practical.

    Think I will give the POTY to Naomi Long, be a nice way to mark the pinnacle of her career 🙂

  • edgeoftheunion


    Jeez, I was moaning halfway through at the poor showing for the maiden city, and then there were half a dozen Derry nominations.


    Bang on the money.

  • Mick Fealty


    Lapper! You didn’t nominate. And, so far as I can tell, you didn’t show up this morning to make your voice heard when it really counted.

    Personally, the final choices would not necessarily have been my choice, but I’lI trust to the process, this was NEVER not about mine or Slugger’s editorial choice.

    I will concede that DR has a point in that breakfast time penalised people from the west.

    But DUP do reasonably well out of it. So do the SDLP (for once). Sinn Fein, *way* below par (although Martin rightly steals one back there for them). John O’Dowd, robbed again (for which I hold you *personally* accountable, BTW) ;-).

    UUP, absolutely nowhere.

    Good to see Will Crawley nominated for the explainer award. PSNI and DPP for creativity that is both focused and *revenue light*.

    All I can say is: do better next year!!!

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick , did you post that comment in the UTV studio?

    you were looking great! and so was Alan, who was your Queens guy? ie. does he comment on here?

    Think I know who should be the winners in most categories. Although there are two or three I cant make head nor tail of.

  • edgeoftheunion

    Lapper? Que?

    UUP nowhere? I presume Baz is still a member. Close one there, but where would he go?

    Enjoyed it immensely. Sorry I was late but amazingly I was shown to the ‘Thinker and Explainer ‘ table. I’m not going to muse on fate, chance, Providence etc but it was great.

  • Stephen Blacker

    It is good to finally see the short lists and I still have 7 of my choices in with a chance. The coverage on UTV Live was very good and it shows that the Slugger O’Toole Awards are getting a lot of positive recognition.

    I am sorry I could not attend the breakfast but I cant really complain about the final shortlists. This process has encouraged me to keep a closer eye on events during this next year.

    Well done to all involved in giving Slugger World the chance to show our politicians, journalists & community organisations what way the public are thinking. Of course a special thanks must go to Mick Fealty, Strategem (sorry they were not shortlisted) and to Channel 4 for their sponsorship. Looking forward to the results in The Black Box on the 10th of Feburary!

    My Nap is; “Up and Coming Politician” – Conall McDevitt.
    My Next Best is; “Political Journalist of the Year” – Brian Rowan.

  • Ceist

    Personally I’m glad to see that we have an all female short list for politician of the year. As Mick pointed out it was a crowd sourced effort so what does it say of the Slugger commentariat that the list (or at least the elected reps on the list) is dominated by left/liberal figures? The SDLP are the only party with more than one nominee (5 that I can see)

    Mick , can’t see how the DUP do well from it while the UUP don’t? Simon’s the only one nominated while Naomi praised for taking Robinson out and McGuinness for not twisting the knife after the Iris affair. Similarly one nomination for the UUP – Basil for not throwing his toys out of the pram a la Bradshaw, Hamilton etc.

    To be fair I cannot think of a mainstream unionist who has been left out but is that not part of the problem in itself?

  • The political categories reflect the huge lack of talent in Northern Ireland. On the other side, the UK City of Culture bid team achieved a great result and young Colum Eastwood has worked very hard and very credibly. And Suzanne Breen stands a million miles in that the investigative journalist category. As far as the media is concerned that should have been the only category and the other one is just cluttering space.

  • redhugh78

    forgive my ignorance, lapper?

    You are correct I didn’t nominate and didn’t attend for Breakfast but I’m sure it was a hoot, maybe you can explain a few things for me?

    If I had nominated, what was the process for selecting those nominated for the shortlist? who were the people that chose them?
    Furthermore we are still waiting to see who the ‘panel’ is that selects the eventual winners.

    p.s you’ve lost a few pounds I see.

  • Mick Fealty


    The camera was just a little kinder this time than last. I’m trying to curate the judging panel right now. Once we’ve got a decent long list, I’ll be sending out invites early next week.

    I want no fewer than ten people. And I want a good mix of people who will be prepared to have a stand up row over the selection. I also want to have a few politicos on there: ie people who understand what the trade actually involves rather than what it should involve.

    I am very open to suggestions either here or through

    On the shortlisting process, each table had a sealed envelope with the category inside. It was their task to appoint a chair and shortlist. Some actually googled background on some of the candidates at the table.

    I also asked people who might have had a conflict of interest to get up and move to another table. But this was very much left to trust.

  • Mick Fealty

    I wouldn’t mind co-opting a couple of commenters either.

  • edgeoftheunion


    From the urban dictionary.

    someone who is too cowardly to do something, they don’t have enough balls
    Paul backed out of that fight, he’s a lapper.

    I’m not including a link as some of the other definitions leave little to the imagination.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, you know i’m always up for a good old row! and the lack of UUP entires ( I wasn’t in the Basil camp so cant be biased there either!) means I’m equally biased against most of them. Give me a shout if think I’m up to it!

  • Mark McGregor

    I nominate Drumlins Rock too, he is an argumentative bugger and I reckon he’d properly punch Feeney if he is on the panel again (a service to my sanity). In the interests of openess I’ve already suggested Mick contact FJH and Rory to be on the panel – both of them could get a good row going.

    He never takes my advice, but I tried.

  • Drumlins Rock

    def FJH, I wanna talk about Jacobites!