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Examiner journalist scoops top award

By Fiachra ” Cionnaith

Irish Examiner, Friday, June 03, 2011

IRISH Examiner journalist Conall ” Fatharta has won one of the highest accolades on offer at the Justice Media Awards for his outstanding exposť on Ireland’s illegal adoption scandal.

Conall was awarded the top prize in the daily newspaper category — a section dominated entirely by three Irish Examiner reporters — after a series of exclusive stories on the hidden crisis.

The journalist, from Galway, was commended at the Law Society of Ireland contest for his refusal to back down from uncovering the truth behind this country’s adoption past, and some international adoptions taking place today.

His major award specifically related to the 2010 two-day series "Adoption in Ireland" which focussed on one woman’s 30-year search to find her son who was taken away without her consent and whose birth was falsely registered by authorities.

This move, the judging panel noted, "effectively removed all legal evidence that she had ever given birth... and was done without her knowledge or consent".

A second-day piece examined the failure of the Adoption Board to reveal the true number of children illegally removed from their birth parents.

This article was described by the judging panel as "excellent" and a fair criticism of "the failure of the Government... to assist adopted children and natural parents to trace each other".

Conall’s success was repeated by his colleagues Jennifer Hough and Cormac O’Keeffe, who received "certificates of merit" in the same category for their in-depth stories on the juvenile justice system.

Jennifer’s "Young Lives Lost" series was described as an "insightful piece" on how young people can fall into the juvenile courts system from an early age.

Cormac’s "Path Away From Crime" similarly highlighted the benefits of a Garda case-management system to help take vulnerable teenagers away from a life of crime.

Both were praised by the judging panel for the significant research involved.

The Irish Examiner was the only national daily newspaper to be commended at his year’s Justice Media Awards.

And there was similar success for our sister publication, the Evening Echo, whose security correspondent, Ann Murphy, received a regional newspaper section award for her articles on the plight of women behind bars.

Reacting to the hat-trick of achievements, the executive editor of the Irish Examiner, Dolan O’Hagan, said the awards are further validation of the newspaper’s ongoing commitment to addressing the inadequacies and inequalities of Irish society with hard-hitting and campaigning journalism.

"I’m sure the recipients of these awards will not mind me saying their tremendous achievements are another indication of the hard work and continued commitment of all their colleagues in ensuring that many of the inequalities and inadequacies of our society do not go unchallenged," he said.


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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

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