COVID-19 REPORTING AWARD

Guild of Agricultural Journalists Award

I recently won the BEST COVID REPORTING award from the Guild of Agricultural Journalists for my reports in The Northern Standard Monaghan over six months from March until August.

March 26th 2020 p.1

These four front page stories out from the 100 or so I wrote about Covid during that time helped to win recognition from the judges for this once-off (hopefully!) award.

April 2nd 2020 p.1

Thank you to all who have helped me with their contributions to stories during that time including infectious diseases expert RCSI Professor Sam McConkey from Killeevan near Clones, one of the areas I cover.

One story covered exclusively by myself and the Standard’s photographer © Rory Geary was when the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris met his former PSNI colleague Chief Constable Simon Byrne on a Saturday morning at the Monaghan Tyrone border at Moybridge over the River Blackwater near Aughnacloy on the N2 A5 main road. They signed a memorandum of understanding on dealing with Covid-19 to co-ordinate their responses in both jurisdictions. Social distancing was observed in the pre-mask era.

27th August 2020 p.1

The fourth story I highlighted in my entry involved the controvesy over two elected members of Monaghan County Council who appeared to have contravened the Covid-19 guidelines by taking holidays abroad. In the case of Independent Cllr Paudge Connolly he became embroiled in the Golfgate dinner in Clifden, having attended as a member of the Oireachtas Golf Club which organised the annual golf tournament and function afterwards. It led to the resignation of Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary, EU Commissioner Phil Hogan and an investigation into the presence of newly appointed Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe, a former Attorney General. The second was Councillor Cathy Bennett from Scotstown who went on a family vacation and on return went to her holiday home in Co. Donegal and exercised on the beach instead of staying in Co. Monaghan for two weeks of isolation. She lost the party whip for three months but it has since been restored.

Damien O’Reilly introduced the GAJ Awards from the RDS library in Dublin

Normally the awards would be presented at a black tie dinner sponsored by FBD Insurance. But this was not possible owing to Covid and the ceremony was held online.

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