Independent Judging panel 2019

Tim Vaughan, Chairman

Chairman of the judging panel.

A former editor of the Irish Examiner for over 15 years, Tim began his career in journalism as a reporter with The Kerryman before joining the then Cork Examiner as a general news reporter in 1991.

He was appointed editor of the Irish Examiner in 2001. During his time as editor the newspaper earned an award-winning reputation for campaigning journalism and spearheaded revelations into several major national controversies, including the Garda whistleblowers scandal.

He is now Head of Content and Corporate Communications at the global employee communications company, Poppulo.

Brendan Keenan

Brendan Keenan was born in Belfast and educated at St McNissis s College in County Antrim and Queen s University, Belfast. He joined the Belfast Telegraph in 1969 as a junior reporter and throughout the period of the early years of The Troubles , he reported on the violence and trials which took place.

In 1973 he was appointed Deputy Political Correspondent at the Belfast Telegraph where he covered the original inquiry into Bloody Sunday headed by the English Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery, the Ulster workers strike and the fall of the power-sharing Executive.

In 1976 he became a reporter and presenter for RTE News Features where he conducted interviews on the News at One-Thirty and This Week before being appointed Economics correspondent in 1981.

In 1983 he joined the Financial Times as Ireland Correspondent. As well as covering the continuing economic crisis of the period, this role also took in the turbulent politics of the time in the Republic and coverage of Northern Ireland, with the various political initiatives taking place.

In 1986 he became Business Editor of the Irish Independent where he was responsible for the production of the business pages of the newspaper and introduced the Thursday business supplement. He was Economics Editor from 1992-2012 and now writes a weekly economics column.



Dave O’Connell

Dave O’Connell is Group Editor of the Connacht Tribune, a role he has held for the past ten years.

A graduate of journalism at the College of Commerce in Rathmines in 1983, he started as a reporter with the Connacht Tribune that year before moving to the then-Cork Examiner in 1989. He was promoted to Deputy Editor and News Editor of the Cork Evening Echo before leaving to take up a role as Assistant News Editor with the Star in 1995.

He worked as News Editor and Night Editor there until he departed for the Westmeath Independent in 2001, where he was appointed editor – a role that was subsequently expanded to Group Editor with the Westmeath Examiner Group, serving as editor of the Westmeath Examiner, Westmeath Independent and Offaly Independent.

A regular presenter and contributor with RTE, he has presented Saturday View, Grassroots (a series on local government) and Late Debate as well as filling in as presenter on Drivetime, Today with Pat Kenny and Tonight with Vincent Browne. He currently shares the weekly regional newspaper review slot on Drivetime with John O’Connor.

A native of Oughterard, Co Galway, he is married to the RTE journalist Teresa Mannion and they have two sons, Cian and Tom.

Fiona Stack

Fiona Stack is General Manager of Radio Kerry. She began her career as a journalist with the station and became News Editor. She later worked in Newstalk as Station Editor for 3 years. During that time Newstalk was named Radio Station of the Year at the PPI Radio Awards in 2004.

Fiona Hynes

Fiona Hynes is a communications and media relations strategist and currently serves as Head of Communications for Special Olympics Europe Eurasia (SOEE). Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to more than 5.3 million athletes in 170 countries.

Responsible for developing and driving strategic partnerships with key influencers across 58 countries in the Europe Eurasia region, Fiona also supports the expansion of communications and media relations on a global level on behalf of Special Olympics International. Fiona previously managed public relations, media relations, communications and sponsorship activation for Special Olympics Ireland.

Before joining the Special Olympics movement, Fiona served in a number of editorial roles with Ireland's leading media organisation, Independent News & Media. Over an 11 year period she held key roles including news executive, news editor and senior news correspondent for a range of leading print and online media titles. She holds an honours degree in Communications: Journalism BSC from Dublin Institute of Technology as well as a professional diploma in Digital Marketing from the Digital Marketing Institute.

Geraldine Kennedy

Geraldine Kennedy is one of the most prolific and high profile journalists of her generation.

A native of Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary, Kennedy began her career with the Munster Express, but was hired by the Cork Examiner after less than a year. After several years at the Cork Examiner, she moved to The Irish Times. Then, on the foundation of the Sunday Tribune in 1980, Kennedy became its political editor. When the Tribune briefly ceased production, Kennedy moved to the Sunday Press.

In 1987, Kennedy successfully sued the incumbent Charles-Haughey-led Fianna Fail government for illegally tapping her phone.

She ran in the 1987 general election and was elected as one of 14 Progressive Democrat TDs. She became that party’s spokesperson for foreign affairs.

Following the 1989 election, Kennedy lost her seat and returned to The Irish Times. For several years she moved away from writing about party politics, only to return to covering politics in the early 1990s. She became The Irish Times’s political editor in 1999.

In 2002, Kennedy replaced Conor Brady as editor of The Irish Times.

In addition to her abilities as a journalist, Kennedy is widely known and regarded for her and Colm Keena’s investigation into former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s finances and their subsequent fight through the High Court to protect their sources.

In September 2006, Kennedy approved the publication of an article in The Irish Times, which gave details of payments purported to have been made in 1993 to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Kennedy refused upon request of the investigating Tribunal to provide details of the source of the printed information. She responded that the documents had since been destroyed. Subsequently, the Tribunal sought High Court orders and these were issued to compel her to provide details of the source. In its judgment, the High Court criticised her severely for destroying documents.

Kennedy and Keena subsequently appealed this judgment to the Supreme Court and won.

Jane Suiter

Jane is Director of the Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo), and Associate Professor in the School of Communications. She is an expert on communication, deliberation and participation and is co-PI on the Irish Citizen Assembly and a member of the ECPR standing group on Democratic Innovations, having also worked on other deliberative events such as the Constitutional Convention and We the Citizens. She is currently co-PI on an EPA project on climate change coverage in Irish media and is communications director of a COST project on populist political communication. Jane is a  former journalist having worked as Economics Editor at The Irish Times and for other papers such as The Sunday Times and Sunday Independent and as a current affairs presenter

Gavan Becton

Gavan Becton became only the seventh editor of the Meath Chronicle in its 119 year history in July 2016 when he succeeded Ken Davis. In the two years since taking on the role, the Meath Chronicle has grown one of the country's biggest online followings for a regional newspaper and attracted over 1.5m website visitors last year.
With over 20 years experience working in newspapers, Gavan previously worked as assistant sports editor and digital editor for the Irish Sun where he spearheaded the newspaper's GAA online highlights and growth of digital output including the use of video.

Prior to his time at the Irish Sun, Gavan worked at the Irish Daily Star. He was appointed deputy sports editor of the new Irish Daily Star Sunday from 2003 and was subsequently promoted to the role of sports editor in 2004 where he remained until the paper ceased publication in 2011.

In 1997 he joined New Century Publishing as Production Editor with editorial responsibility for a number of key publications for high profile clients including the FAI and IRFU.

He started his career as a news reporter with the Tallaght Echo Newspaper in 1991 as well working as freelance contributor to the Irish Press, Irish Times and co-founded The Irish Globe a newspaper aimed at the Irish Diaspora. He is a graduate of Colaiste Dhulaigh's National Diploma in Journalism course.

Willie Kealy

Willie Kealy is the former Deputy Editor of the Sunday Independent

Mairead Lavery

Mairead Lavery is editor of Irish Country Living the magazine supplement in the Irish Farmers Journal and is also managing editor of the award winning glossy Irish Country Magazine. She organises the annual Women and Agriculture conference and the bi-annual Women and Agriculture Awards

Mairead is a former joint winner of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists ‘National Journalist of the Year Award’ and won the National Print category on two occasions. She also won the ‘John Healy Award for Regional Journalism’ and was voted ‘Consumer Magazine Editor of the Year’ 2013.

She contributes weekly to Newstalk’s Sean Moncrieff Show and is a regular panellist on The Breakfast Show on Newstalk, on RTE’s Today Show and TV 3’s Elaine and Ireland AM shows.

Mairead is a graduate of the University of Limerick and Trinity College.

She lives in Shanagolden, Co Limerick with her husband Sean and they have three adult children.

Mairead served on the board of Agri Aware, the farming and food education body from 2000-2010 and was its chairman for five of these years. She chaired Failte Ireland’s B&B Strategic Implementation Group from 2010/11.  She is a former board member of Foynes Port Company, Limerick County Development Board and West Limerick Resources - the LEADER and social inclusion company for west Limerick.

She represented IFA on the National Economic and Social Council.  She is a former County Chairman of Limerick IFA and represented the county on the IFA Executive Council.

Mick McCaffrey

Mick McCaffrey is head of 3News Ireland, overseeing news at TV3, be3 and 3e. He previously worked as News Editor at UTV Ireland and the Sunday Tribune as well as a senior reporter with the Sunday World and Evening Herald.  He is a previous winner of the Newsbrands Ireland Journalism Awards having been named Crime Journalist of Year in 2013

PJ Cunningham

PJ Cunningham is an author, editor and journalist with over 30 years experience working in national newspapers.

He is a former deputy editor of the Sunday Tribune and Evening Herald and sports Editor of the Irish Independent. He was Agriculture Correspondent of Independent Newspapers in the mid-eighties and has been a sports columnist with various publications for 20 years.

PJ is the author of four books, one of which  - The Long Acre – was shortlisted for the Bord Gais Best Irish Published Book of the Year in 2014.

PJ has  also compiled and edited two collections of book on rural life – Around The Farm Gate and Then There Was Light, both of which were Irish best-sellers.

Siobhán O’Connell

Siobhán O’Connell is a director of Business Plus Magazine which she co-founded with Nick Mulcahy in 1998

As well as her commercial role in Business Plus, Siobhán writes a monthly media and marketing column in the magazine

A former young journalist of the year, Siobhán is a regular guest contributor to The Business on RTE Radio 1.

Trevor White

Trevor White is Director of the Little Museum of Dublin.​ ​

He founded The Dubliner magazine and edited Ireland’s best ​-​ selling restaurant guide, The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants, for many years.

​His third book, Alfie: The Life and Times of Alfie Byrne, will be published by Penguin Ireland this autumn.

Siobhan Cronin

Michael Foley

Michael Foley is Professor Emeritus at the School of Media, DIT. He is a journalist and author and taught journalism at DIT from BA to PhD level and was also head of journalism for a number of years. He has worked in media development for the BBC’s development wing, the International Federation of Journalism, Unicef and Unesco in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He was a journalist with The Irish Times where he held a number of positions, including Education Correspondent and Media Correspondent.

Hannah-Louise Dunne

Hannah-Louise is Editorial Director with Radical, where she heads up the agency’s content team. Since joining the agency over three years ago, she has helped to drive the transformation of its content and content strategy services. Working across key clients, she believes in creative collaboration and delivering strategic branded content that cuts through the clutter.
Hannah-Louise’s background is in journalism, having graduated with a degree in English and History from NUI Galway and a Masters in Journalism from DCU. From 2007, she worked for over 7 years as a journalist contributing to titles including the Evening Herald, the Sunday Independent, You magazine, the Irish Independent’s Weekend magazine and a six-year-tenure with the Irish Daily Mail, where she served as Showbusiness Editor.
During this time, she also contributed to Ireland AM, The Apprentice, The Apprentice: You’re Fired, Xposé, BBC Radio Ulster, RTÉ 2FM, 4FM and Limerick Life Radio.
In 2013, Hannah-Louise completed a Post-Grad Diploma in Advertising & Digital Media in DIT and made the move into marketing. She is passionate about communications.