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Justice Media Awards 2021
Mark Horgan and Ciarán Cassidy

16 Sep 2021 / Law Society Print

‘Where is George Gibney?’ takes top JMA gong

Many of the winning entries at this year’s Justice Media Awards focused on giving a voice to the victims of crime and on making the law accessible for ordinary citizens. Mark McDermott reports.

A podcast series that took a deep-dive into the child-abuse allegations surrounding one of Ireland’s most famous swimming coaches has won the Overall Award at this year’s Justice Media Awards (JMAs).

Mark Horgan and Ciarán Cassidy, of the Second Captains programme for BBC Sounds, were presented with the award for their production titled ‘Where is George Gibney?’

The judges described the “exceptional” podcast series as “a remarkable piece of journalism and an extraordinary listen”. It also took the top prize in the ‘Broadcast Journalism (Radio/Podcast – National)’ category.

The overall winner was selected from a total of 200 entries, received from more than 130 journalists across Ireland. The Law Society announced the winners of the ‘Jammies’ at an online awards ceremony on 24 June 2021. 

In total, 39 awards and merits were presented across 12 categories, including four prizes in a new category, ‘Best Student Journalism’. Louise Kennedy of The College Tribune (University College Dublin) became the first-ever winner in this category.

Announcing the winners, Law Society President James Cahill commented: “Journalism that promotes a greater public understanding of the law, the legal system, and specific legal issues is of immense value, and this year’s awards recognise many great examples.

“Often at these awards, certain themes become apparent, and outstanding cases are highlighted. This year, many of our entries focused on giving a voice to the victims of crime and letting them share their story in their own words. This theme is strongly reflected by our overall award winner this year.”

Mr Cahill added: “There was also a strong focus on making the law accessible for ordinary citizens who are impacted by the law every day. This is legal journalism at its finest.”


Overall winner
Mark Horgan and Ciaran Cassidy (Second Captains production for BBC Sounds) for ‘Where is George Gibney?’

Print/online journalism (daily)
Winner: Jenny Friel (Irish Daily Mail) for ‘Section 252 – why it needs to change by those it most affects’. Merit: Michael Doyle (The Irish Sun) for ‘Irish pubs versus FBD Insurance’ – a series of articles covering a landmark case between four Irish pubs and the insurance company. Merit: Orla Ryan (Journal.ie) for a series of articles and podcasts on mother-and-baby homes, and related legislation.

Print/online journalism (Sunday)
Winner: Sarah Taaffe-Maguire (Business Post) for ‘Landmark verdicts: Female leaders on court cases that shaped the modern world’. Merit: Aaron Rogan (Business Post) for ‘Facebook versus the Data Protection Commissioner’.

Print/online journalism (local)
Winner: Aidan O’Connor (Kerry’s Eye) for ‘Justice at last’. Merit: Ann Murphy (The Echo) for ‘The drugs questions which should be asked by the Citizens’ Assembly’. 

Broadcast journalism (radio/podcast – national)
Winners: Mark Horgan and Ciarán Cassidy (Second Captains) for ‘Where is George Gibney? Episode 4 – ‘He upped and vanished’. Merit: Róisín Ingle, Kathy Sheridan, Jennifer Ryan and Suzanne Brennan (The Irish Times Women’s Podcast) for ‘Sealing the records: Maeve O’Rourke and Mary Harney’. Merit: Christine Bohan, Aoife Barry, Nicky Ryan and Sinéad O’Carroll (Journal.ie) for ‘Why has the Irish media been barred from reporting the names of children who have been murdered?’

Broadcast journalism (radio/podcast – local)
Winner: Niall Delaney (North West Today) for ‘We are family – same sex couple’s birth-cert fight’. Merit: Sinéad Hubble, Ellen Butler, Robert Fahy, Eoin Ó Donoghue, Will Faulkner (Midlands Today) for ‘Understanding the Book of Quantum’. Merit: Fran Curry, Doc Martin, Alison Hyland (Tipp Today) for its legal issues episode ‘Fight to stay alive’. Merit: Fiona Corcoran, Mairead Twohig and Pearse McCarthy (Cork 106FM’s Opinion Line) for ‘Magazine Road residents secure legal victory’.

Broadcast journalism (TV/video)
Winners: Máire Kearney, Mick Peelo and Sheila Ahern (RTÉ One Factual) for ‘Redress: breaking the silence’. Merit: Paddy Hayes and Aisling Ní Fhlaithearta (TG4) for ‘Finné Sinéad O’Leary’. Merit: Barry Cummins and Sallyanne Godson (Prime Time, RTÉ1) for ‘Guardian of the peace’. Merit: Shauna Keogh (Virgin Media One and Virgin Media Television) for ‘The Guards: Inside the K’ (Episode 3 – ‘Mental Health’).

Court reporting (print/online)
Winner: Francesca Comyn (The Currency) for ‘Human stories wrapped up in the meaning of words: the full story of FBD’s battle with Ireland’s publicans’. Merit: Mary Carolan (The Irish Times) for ‘Peter Kelly profile: fearless legal force for half a century’. Merit: Nicola Donnelly (Irish Daily Star) for ‘Victims of crime call for reform on District Court appeals system’. Merit: Shane Phelan (Irish Independent) for ‘Economic threat posed by COVID-19 puts insolvency system back in the spotlight’.

Court reporting (broadcast)
Winner: Frank Greaney (Newstalk) for ‘A beacon of hope: survivor speaks out after John McClean is jailed’. Merit: Nicole Gernon (Virgin Media News) for ‘Resentencing of teenager for attempted murder in Dun Laoghaire’.

Human rights/social justice reporting
Winners: Elaine Loughlin, Aoife Moore, Neil Michael and Eoin English (Irish Examiner) for their coverage of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation Report. Merit: Conor Gallagher (Irish Times) for ‘George Nkencho’. Merit: Aoife Moore, Daniel McConnell, Paul Hosford (Irish Examiner) for ‘Direct provision – a billion-euro industry’. Merit: Patrick O’Connell and Ken Foy (Sunday World) for ‘George Nkencho had no previous convictions’. Merit: Sarah Taaffe-Maguire (Business Post) for ‘Finding a way out: the “double closet” of being homeless and LGBTQI+’.

International justice reporting
Winner: Killian Woods and Barry J Whyte (Business Post) for ‘Firefighting in the witness box: Kingspan’s push back against allegations at the Grenfell Tower inquiry’. Merit: Sallyanne Godson and Barry Cummins (RTÉ1) for ‘The Irish people smugglers. Merit: Sally Hayden (Irish Times) for ‘Kony’s children: the former child soldiers of Uganda’.

Newcomer of the year
Winner: Maxine Bramley (Live 95) for ‘What is Coco’s Law that comes into effect today?’ Merit: Rosanna Cooney (Business Post) for ‘Dentons vows to scare rivals’/‘Mother and Baby Home survivors’/‘The Sunday interview: Noeline Blackwell’.

Best student journalism
Winner: Louise Kennedy (UCD) for ‘Explaining the law surrounding sexual assault and consent’. Merit: Orla Murnaghan (The Eagle, Trinity College Dublin) for ‘EU v big tech’. Merit: Conor Courtney (GCN, UCL) for ‘History informs that the Trump trans healthcare ruling will have fatal consequences’. Merit: Elisha Carey (UCC) for ‘Tackling image-based sexual crime: refuse to stay quiet’.

Read and print a PDF of this article here.

Mark McDermott
Mark McDermott is the Editor of the Law Society Gazette