(1) Investigative journalism
Darragh MacIntyre – For his work on the Iris Robinson story, which had enormous political impact, and a knock-on effect throughout the system – and it might be said has helped change the tone of the politics that were to follow. The award is made in recognition of the huge amount of background work that went into the making and delivery of the programme.
(2) Political Journalist
Mark Devenport – The panel felt that Mark’s blog, the Devenport Diaries, provides insight and a go-to venue for a cogent understanding the back life of Stormont and the issues of the day. They also felt that his urbane and relaxed style belies his reputation as an intelligent and reliable source for explaining the complex and often bafflingly arcane processes at work in Stormont.
(3) Building Trust and Credibility in Politics
Martin McGuinness – Sinn Fein’s deputy First Minister helped to soothe a lot of passionate opposition to the Derry/ Londonderry City of Culture Bid from his own Republican community. He was also praised as one of the most emotionally intelligent politicians in Northern Ireland. For example, his light hearted use of “Londonderry” the deputy First Minister has begun to develop the beginnings of a provisional trust in the Unionist community. His attendance at the East Belfast Talks Back event this year was also noted.
(4) Constructive Opposition
Dawn Purvis, Patsy McGlone and John Dallat of the Public Accounts Committee – The panel felt it was important to mark out for special attention the names of those committee members who they felt had played an outstanding leadership role in their handling of the Northern Ireland water issue – not least in asking the right questions and refusing to be fobbed off with evasive or insubstantial answers. The panel felt it was an important example to others – in a system that has woefully poor provision for rigorous scrutiny.
(5) Up and Coming Politician
Colum Eastwood – In his mid twenties, Colum is the youngest ever Mayor of the Derry City Council. Already a substantial figure with a strong political base of his own, the panel took the view that Colum had helped to persuade his own party and ran what was, at times, a very difficult campaign for the UK City of Culture. He’s now the first ever councillor to win this particular award.
(6) Creative Engagement
DUP Party Conference – This was the near unanimous choice of the judging panel. The panel were impressed both by the progressive nature of the conference speeches as well as the profound change in direction towards outreach out to a broader base of the community and get more people involved in politics from the leadership down. Non-members were invited onto the podium to challenge the party. Attendees left with a sense of being taken seriously.
(7) Thinker and Explainer
William Crawley – He was BBC NI’s first blogger. He has never been afraid to follow his own instincts or to be hemmed in by purely local issues. Whether on his blog, or on Sunday Sequence, he deals with controversial issues with directness and intelligence. And provides an important challenge function at a time when there is a tendency towards dumbing-down.
(8) Campaign of the Year
The Bloody Sunday campaign – A long but dignified campaign seeking justice for the people killed in January 1972. Finally in 2010, after years of campaigning, success was secured with the publication of the Saville Report and an apology from Prime Minister David Cameron, vindicating the years of effort by the families and the campaigners.
(9) Politician of the Year
Naomi Long – for an extraordinarily well orchestrated campaign in East Belfast during the 2010 General Election. The panel felt it was one of the few occasions when an unremittingly positive campaign paid off. And it was a game changer for the Alliance to win their first Westminster seat. Twenty years’ work with a good team helped confound the bookmakers and surprise all of the pundits (including me!).
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