Journalist of the Year one of six awards for ‘The Irish Times’

Kitty Holland’s story on Savita Halappanavar had a ‘major impact’ on Irish society, say judges at national newspaper awards

Irish Times winners at the National Newspapers of Ireland journalism awards: Emma Somers, Eoin Butler, Kitty Holland, Paul Howard, Kate Holmquist and Fintan O’Toole. Photograph: Alan Betson

Irish Times winners at the National Newspapers of Ireland journalism awards: Emma Somers, Eoin Butler, Kitty Holland, Paul Howard, Kate Holmquist and Fintan O’Toole. Photograph: Alan Betson


Irish Times reporter Kitty Holland has been named National Journalist of the Year for her coverage of the Savita Halappanavar story.

The judges at this year’s National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) awards said the story of Ms Halappanavar’s tragic death at Galway University Hospital had had a “major impact” on Irish society.

They said the story sparked nationwide protests, made international headlines, and ultimately led to a change in Ireland’s abortion laws.

Michael Brophy, chairman of the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) judging panel, praised Holland’s bravery in being the journalist to break the story, saying “great stories have great consequences”.

“They hit the news-stands with an impact which spellbinds the audience. The reader then quickly realises that things in the future will not be the same as they were in the past.”

“This year, we witnessed one of those stories. A story which gripped the nation when it appeared and which set the national agenda for a long time afterwards.”

“Today, we are all the richer, as a society, that it was published,” he said.

Holland also won the award for News Reporter of the Year again for her work in exposing the Halappanavar story.

The Irish Times picked up six awards at ceremony, as well as claiming the highest number of nominations at 29.

Literary editor Fintan O’Toole was named Critic of the Year, with the judges praising his erudition, humour and insight.

They highlighted a memorable piece written after the death of Seamus Heaney in which O’Toole described the poet as “the exemplary public man who gave a gentle gravity to our small affairs, who blessed our ordinary days with intimations of the extraordinary.”

Freelance journalist Eoin Butler scooped the Feature Writer of the Year accolade for a series of articles that appeared in The Irish Times and Irish Independent.

‘Downright hilarious’
The judges said Butler had “showed a natural capacity for storytelling that went beyond the conveying of the facts to bring readers further into the heart of stories ranging from the deadly serious to the downright hilarious”.

Paul Howard’s alter ego Ross O’Carroll Kelly won Columnist of the Year for his Irish Times work, which the judges said held up a mirror to Irish society. The Irish Times supplement on young Irish writing – Fighting Words – took top honours in the Educational Supplement/ Initiative category.

Speaking at the ceremony in the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin NNI chairman Matt Dempsey said the awards celebrated “the high quality content that sells newspapers”.

The prize for best scoop of the year went to Paul Williams of the Irish Independent for the Anglo Tapes story. “This story has it all – drama, deceit and shocking revelations which finally gave us insight into the fat cat culture which blighted the country,” the judges said.

Sunday Times journalist David Walsh won the Campaign of the Year award “for his outstanding work in revealing the fraud that was Lance Armstrong”.

Other winners included: Political Journalist of the Year: Fiach Kelly, Irish Independent; Business & Economics Journalist of the Year: Ian Kehoe, the Sunday Business Post; Crime & Security Reporter of the Year: Mick McCaffrey, Sunday World; Regional Journalist of the Year: Anthony Hennigan, Western People; Young Journalist of the Year: Elaine Loughlin, Irish Daily Mail; Sports Reporter of the Year: Roy Curtis, Sunday World; Sports Columnist of the Year: Neil Francis, Sunday Independent; Showbiz Journalist of the Year: Barry Egan, Sunday Independent; Best Design & Presentation: Sunday World; Foreign Coverage: Jason O’Brien, Irish Independent; News Analysis: Michael O’Farrell, Irish Mail on Sunday; Best Headline of the Year: Western People for “Deja Voodoo” published after Mayo lost the All-Ireland final.