Independent Judging panel 2022

Judging Panel 2022 

Claire Grady, Chair of the Judging Panel

Claire Grady began her career as a journalist with the Mayo News, and worked on the Connaught Telegraph and the Tallaght Echo before joining Independent News and Media where she worked for almost 30 years.

She was a news reporter with both the Evening Herald and Irish Independent for over a decade and spent two years as a reporter with the Sunday Tribune before joining the the Irish Independent newsdesk under the editorship of the late Vinnie Doyle.
Claire was appointed Executive Editor of the Evening Herald in 2006, a role which included commissioning columnists and being opinion editor.
She was appointed editor of the Herald in 2012, and editor of the Irish Independent in 2013, a post she held for a year. She retains a keen interest in the production and presentation of news and is an occasional contributor to radio and television news review programmes.

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.

Graham Clifford

Graham is a former former feature writer with Irish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Post and the Business Post. Former Broadcast journalist with RTÉ Radio 1, BBC Local Radio and Radio Kerry. Occasional Television contributor and Contributing Editor.
Graham is the Founder of the Sanctuary Runners Movement, a solidarity-through-sport initiative which uses running to bring together asylum seekers, refugees and those in wider Irish society (expanding internationally soon). Also founder of Translate Ireland Multilingual Video Messaging Ltd - an initiative which produces vital Multilingual Video Messaging for migrants on everything from Public Health to Visa information, education, services.

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.

Fionnuala McCarthy

Fionnuala McCarthy is editorial director of Lonely Planet, where she has worked for the past six years.
Previous roles included head of features and magazines at INM, magazine editor at The Sunday Tribune, editor of Woman's Way, editor of U magazine and features editor of Ireland on Sunday.

Sebastian Hamilton

Sebastian is former Director and Group Editor of DMG Ireland. He is currently Head of Public Affairs with Revolut Ireland

Willie Kealy

Willie Kealy is the former Deputy Editor of the Sunday Independent

Mairead Lavery

Mairead Lavery is former editor of Irish Country Living the magazine supplement in the Irish Farmers Journal. 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 News and Sport for Virgin News . 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.

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.

Jennifer O' Brien

Jennifer O'Brien works for RTÉ in TV, Radio and Online Communications and is a two-time winner of the Showbiz Story of the Year Award (2011 & 2018 ). A graduate of the MA Journalism at National University of Ireland, Galway, in 2006, Jennifer commenced her career in journalism as a reporter with The Longford News. She went on to work as features writer and Showbiz Editor at The Irish Sun, before moving to London in as Editor of the Bizarre Column at the UK Edition, and then Senior Online Producer for Good Morning Britain at ITV. She returned to Ireland and News International in 2017, working for The Times Ireland Edition as Arts Correspondent, before making the move to Communications in RTÉ

Dara Doyle

Dara Doyle is Senior Editor with Bloomberg Ireland

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 Dunne is Head of Content Partnerships at Core.

She has a background in journalism, broadcast and advertising and joined Core in 2014, following a 6-year-tenure with the Irish Daily Mail as Showbusiness Editor. In her role with Core agency, Radical, Hannah-Louise led creative content and digital strategy for clients across the public, private and charity sector going onto lead the team to win two global awards in the Content Marketing Awards in the US in 2017.
Since March 2018, she has worked across partnerships and through-the-line brand campaigns in Core as Head of Content Partnerships, leading strategic partnerships and creative projects for clients across Core’s media, creative and sponsorship practises.
She has served as a member of the Marketing Society’s inaugural Future Council, is an avid sea-swimmer and lectures in content marketing and social media for the Digital Marketing Institution in IBAT.
Hannah-Louise is passionate about communications, storytelling and the innovative ways digital channels offer to connect brands and audiences. She holds a degree in English and History from NUI Galway, an MA in Journalism from DCU and a PostGrad Diploma in Advertising & Digital Media from DIT.

Joe Breen

Joe Breen is a former managing editor (production, presentation and design) at the Irish Times. During 36 years at the newspaper he held a number of posts including chief-sub-editor, opinion page editor and duty editor. He was the launch editor of the online edition in 1994. After he left the newspaper, he graduated with a masters in media and international conflict from UCD’s Clinton Institute in 2011. He subsequently lectured on journalism at the institute and in DCU. He has contributed to a number of books on Irish media history and in 2018 he co-edited, with Dr Mark O’Brien, “The Sunday Papers - A History of Ireland’s Weekly Press” (Four Courts Press). He is a member of the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland. In a different life he has written extensively on popular music for more than 40 years.

Siobhan Cronin

Siobhan Cronin is the Editor of the Southern Star newspaper.

The Southern Star is a West Cork-based, family-owned media company encompassing print, digital and creative design functions.

Siobhan's 35 year careeer includes senior roles at the Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, In Dublin magazine (editor), and several regional newspapers, including the Leitrim Observer, Longford News and Nationalist group of newspapers in Carlow and Kildare.

Miriam Donohoe

Miriam Donohoe has more than 30 years experience in journalism and communications, having worked across a wide variety of newspapers including The Irish Times, INM, the Irish Examiner, and the Sunday Tribune. She now works as a Head of Communications with Trocaire

Des Gibson

Des Gibson is former Editor of the Irish Daily Star and Head of Tabloids with INM. He is now owner and founder of Gibson Pro Media (GPM) Solutions

Vicki Notaro

Vicki Notaro is the editor in chief of Ireland’s only glossy magazine for millennial women, STELLAR.
She is also Managing Director at VIP Publishing and oversees the brands, operations and editorial at Ireland’s largest magazine company, including the country’s biggest selling monthly VIP, weekly television and lifestyle title TVNow and the rebooted digital platform for teenage girls, KISS.
Previously, Notaro worked as a magazine editor at the Irish Independent and has been a freelance contributor to national titles both at home and abroad.

Jim Gray

Jim Gray is a retired journalist and editor with 40 years' experience in regional media in Ireland.
He began his career as a junior reporter with his hometown Sligo Champion before moving to the newly launched Sligo Journal, where he served as editor, and later working with the Roscomon Champion and Longford Leader.
He returned to the Sligo Champion in the mid-80s and finished his career there as Editor.
Jim was a regular contributor to RTE news, current affairs and sports programmes on both radio and television throughout his career.
He was twice named Journalist of the Year in the regional category of national media awards as well as winning awards in a number of specifically themed journalism schemes.

Allan Prosser

Allan Prosser retired this spring after 50 years in journalism during which he did every job on the publishing side of the business from junior reporter to managing director. He spent 16 years working in Ireland with the Irish Examiner, initially as a project manager, then as head of editorial operations before following Tim Vaughan as Editor in 2016.
Allan worked previously in B2B publications with United Business Media as Editor of Farmers Guardian; was digital publishing manager for Eastern Counties Newspapers Group (now Archant); MD of York and County Press and North of England Newspapers; Editorial Director of the Kent Messenger Group and Editor of The Northern Echo. He has also edited paid-for weeklies and free newspapers and magazines. He moved in May from Cork to Cambridge

Alana Fearon

Alana Fearon is a former journalist who started her Dublin career at the Irish Daily Star on Sunday, before moving to the Irish Daily Mirror. She was founding editor of Dublin Live before moving to Jamaica in 2017 where she was Head of Content Strategy for a family of breaking news websites across the Caribbean. She moved back to Ireland in August 2020 and is currently Head of Web and Digital at the Law Society of Ireland. The Journalism Awards were always a highlight of Alana's year, and she was twice nominated in her heyday!

Catherine Halloran

Following a 25 year career in journalism with newspapers such as The Kerryman and the Irish Daily Star, Catherine Halloran served as Deputy Government Press Secretary with the last government between 2016 and 2020. 

She currently works with the Higher Education Authority as Senior Manager (Communications).

Marie Kierans

Marie Kierans has worked in the Irish media industry for almost 40 years. She started out in local journalism at the age of 17 and went on to work for both the Sunday World and the Irish Daily Mirror. She was the first female Editor of the Drogheda Independent and also wrote a weekly column for the Irish Sunday Mirror for nearly three years. In 2014 Marie took the leap from print journalism into radio and currently produces the Michael Reade Show on LMFM .

David Diebold

David Diebold is a former features and magazine editor (1999-2009) and opinion/analysis editor (2009-2011) at Independent News and Media. Since then, he has written for the Irish Independent, Irish Daily Mail, Business Post, and The Herald, in which he wrote a weekly column for almost seven years. He was a finalist at the National Newspapers of Ireland, for Feature Writer of the Year, in 2011, and at the NewsBrand Ireland Awards, for Popular Columnist of the Year, in 2016. His writing featured in Press Gang: Tales from the Glory Days of Irish Newspapers (2015), and he is the author of This Is How We Dance (2019), and Diary of a Wimpy Dad (2021). A regular guest on national radio, he has been on The Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk), Ryan Tubridy Show, (RTE Radio 1), and Last Word (Today FM). He is now co-director of Monument Media Ltd, designers and publishers of books and magazines.

Donn O'Sullivan

Donn O'Sullivan, a Limerick native, has been in the media industry for nearly 20 years. He has held roles across multiple titles, such as Newspaper Manager, Sports Editor and is currently the Managing Editor of the Limerick Leader, part of the Iconic Media Group.

Emer O’Reilly-Hyland

Journalist Emer O’Reilly-Hyland writes on lifestyle, celebrity culture and life in general. As the former Editor at VIP magazine, where she reigned for almost ten years, Emer interviewed just about every celebrity in Ireland and more than a few international stars. Over the past few years Emer has contributed to many of our leading magazines, including Image and the Sunday Times Style and Culture magazines, and the weekend supplements with our national newspapers.

Denis Kirwan

Graeme Lennox

Graeme Lennox is Head of Group Communications fpr Volkswagon Ireland. He is a former feature writer and supplements editor with The Sunday Times,

Johnny O’Hanlon

Johnny O’Hanlon is the recently retired Director of Local Ireland, the representative association for 43 regional weekly newspapers in Ireland. He held this position from January 2009 to January 2021. Prior to that he was Managing Editor of The Anglo Celt, the Cavan based newspaper of record since 1846.

Kathy Foley

Formerly a Sunday Times columnist and feature writer, Kathy Foley went on to work at both Twitter and Facebook. She now runs Hyphen, a content strategy and copywriting business with a blue-chip national and international client list.

Kieran Dineen

Kieran is part of RTÉ's Investigations Unit and was the reporter on Stuck in the Rough, a programme about the challenges facing Dublin's roughsleepers. Before that he was part of Prime Time after starting out in RTÉ in March 2019 with Morning Ireland. 
Kieran is very proud to have been shortlisted 5 times for NewsBrands Ireland awards while with the Irish Sun - and regrets never winning the coveted trophy despite entering as many entries in as many categories as possible. 
He did manage to win two Justice Media Certificates of Merit, in 2017 and 2019, while working as the Irish Sun's Public Affairs Correspondent.
Before that, Kieran worked for the Irish Daily Mail as a reporter following a six-year stint in Cork's Echo, starting out as a sub-editor before becoming a reporter and Education Correspondent. Kieran studied Journalism at Dublin Institute of Technology and completed a Masters in Government in UCC.

Linda O'Reilly

Linda O'Reilly is the Editor of The Anglo-Celt newspaper in County Cavan – part of the Celtic Media Group.
A graduate of journalism in DCU, Linda has worked in media for more than 20 years in both newspapers and radio, national and local.
She joined The Anglo-Celt in 2008 as news editor. Just a year later she made history by becoming the youngest female editor in Irish local newspapers at the age of 29.
She has led her team through numerous changes, including the transformation of the Celt from a broadsheet to a modern, new compact edition newspaper.
Linda has also driven the delivery of multi-platform digital news across web and social media channels, while reinforcing the Celt’s core journalism values.

Múirne Laffan

NED & Strategic Advisor
Múirne Laffan has a global track record building teams, products, brands and revenues in News, Sport & Entertainment at RTÉ and McCann Worldgroup. She now sits on several boards, is working with several start-ups on product and business strategy, including Noa (NewsOverAudio).
She started her career in advertising in London, joined RTÉ as GM, RTÉ Commercial Enterprises Limited, in 2001. She subsequently worked as MD of RTÉ Publishing MD of RTÉ Digital and was was member of the executive board, becoming Chief Digital Officer in 2015. Prior to RTÉ, Múirne was SVP, Director of Worldwide Clients at McCann-Erickson in New York, set up McCann Interactive and was a founding executive board member of UM, one of the world’s largest media agencies..
Múirne has been included in the top 50 Global CDO Influencers, 100 Women in STEM, Women of Influence in Irish Sport, Ad Age Media Innovators and was Chair of the EBU Digital Steering Committee. She is Chair of TV Committee and Board member of the Irish Television & Film Academy, Board member of the Digital Repository of Ireland and of Drinkaware. Múirne is a graduate of TU Dublin’s College of Marketing & Design and Trinity College Dublin.

Paddy Smyth

Paddy Smyth is a former Washington and Brussels Correspondent of the Irish Times. He also served as the paper’s Foreign Editor and Chief Leader Writer,  and was national newspapers representative on the Press Council.

Tony O’Brien

Tony O’Brien is the former award-winning Environment Correspondent of Independent Newspapers. He worked for 20 years for the group having started his journalism career with The People in his native Wexford.
Over the years, Tony covered many of the key emerging environment issues, including planning, transport, water, energy and local government. He was winner of the first Transport Journalist of the Year award presented by the Chartered Institute of Transport.
As well as a wide experience of national and local media, Tony has also forged a successful career in Public Relations working with clients such as Ticketmaster, Wicklow County Council, EirGrid, the Irish Planning Institute, Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance”, Wexford County Council and others.

Catriona Loughran

Catriona Loughran is VP of Communications for Hurtigruten Group, one of the world's leading expedition cruise companies. 
She is based in Oslo, Norway. 
Catriona previously worked in various communications roles in the humanitarian sector: as Global Media Adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council and Media Relations Manager for Concern Worldwide. 
A journalist at heart, she worked for the Impartial Reporter newspaper in Co. Fermanagh before moving to the Irish Daily Star where she covered breaking news and entertainment.

Colette Sexton

Colette Sexton is a communications consultant with a background in journalism and politics. Prior to moving into communications, she worked as political correspondent with The Times, Ireland Edition and news correspondent for The Business Post. She edited the Media and Marketing section of the Business Post for years, and hosted its Media Matters podcast. She also worked as a sub-editor for The Irish Daily Mail and The Hull Daily Mail. Originally from Co. Clare, she holds a first class honours masters in journalism from NUI Galway and a first class honours degree in history and politics from the University of Limerick.

Gary O’ Shea

Gary O’ Shea worked for a range of Irish titles before moving to Fleet Street in 2002. He was a staff news reporter on The Sun from 2004-2020 before moving into PR and is now a Senior Director at the Rhizome Media Group specialising in finance and real estate.

Kelly Fincham

Kelly is the director of the global media and communication MA programme at National University Ireland Galway and also lectures in journalism (social media) in the undergraduate and graduate programmes with a focus on social and digital journalism and media theory. 
Kelly is the founding editor of IrishCentral. com, the industry-leading U.S.-based Irish web site and has more than 25 years of senior editorial experience in both print and online media in both Ireland and New York.
Before switching to digital in 2000, and then academia in 2008, she worked at international newspaper titles including the Australian Financial Review (Fairfax) and Sydney Telegraph (News International) in Sydney; the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent and Evening Herald in Ireland and the Irish Voice newspaper and Irish America magazine in New York.

Patrick Fagan

Patrick Fagan started work subbing with the Irish Star in 2005 and moved to the Irish Sun in 2006, where he later became Head of Publishing and then Assistant Editor. He left newspapers in 2020 to take over a gourmet corner shop, and has found a sometimes reluctant new home for his puns on Instagram.

Rachael Kane

Having earned a BA Degree in Journalism and Media Communications, Rachael worked with The Irish Field newspaper before joining the Irish Daily Star, where she worked for over 10 years as a news reporter and features writer. Her claim to fame will always be a nomination for Scoop Of The Year for a story involving a live kangaroo on ecstasy in a Dublin nightclub.  
In 2018, Rachael joined Paddy Power as their PR and Mischief Champion

Declan Varley

Declan Varley has been Group Editor of the Galway Advertiser since 2001. Prior to that, he worked as a senior journalist with the Tuam Herald where he won a European Regional Journalist Award in 1998. He has also won four Golden Quill Golden Dozen Awards for the excellence of his weekly editorials from the Internatioanal Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

Tom McEnaney

Tom McEnaney has over 20 years’ experience as a reporter, editor, columnist and broadcaster with a number of Irish national newspapers and radio stations.

Until 2019 he was a weekly business columnists with The Times Ireland, having previously been a business columnist with the Irish editions of both The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday. He is the former business editor of both the Irish Independent and the Sunday Times Ireland. His other print roles include deputy editor of Business & Finance Magazine, business reporter with the Sunday Tribune, property editor of the Sunday Tribune, and business reporter with the Irish Times.

Tom established the Sunday Business Show on Today FM, which he both presented and edited. He also a former presenter of both Down to Business and the Breakfast Business on Newstalk.

Tom currently works as a corporate media consultant with McEnaney Media