Two Journal Media reporters shortlisted for Irish Red Cross Journalism Excellence Award 2021

Michelle Hennessy and Maria Delaney are nominated for their series Tough Start, which investigated challenges faced by Traveller children.

By Lauren Boland

TWO JOURNAL MEDIA journalists have been shortlisted for the Journalism Excellence Award at the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards 2021.

The Journal senior reporter Michelle Hennessy and Noteworthy investigative reporter Maria Delaney are nominated for their long-form series Tough Start.

The series investigated the challenges that children from the Traveller community face in healthcare, education, and living conditions.

It explored gaps in healthcare for Traveller children, misuse of reduced school days, imprisonment of Traveller women for minor offences, poor resourcing of housing projects, and a lack of action on Traveller-specific accommodation.

They are shortlisted for the award alongside journalists Felipe Lopes and Donal O’Keeffe, while Katie Hannon has received a special mention.

Last year, The Journal reporter Órla Ryan won the Irish Red Cross Journalism Excellence Award 2020 for her work in Kenya and Lebanon where she reported on women’s rights and refugee camps.

Announcing this year’s shortlist, the Irish Red Cross said that the journalism award “celebrates writing which inspires change for the good and both journalists were shortlisted as a result of their work on a groundbreaking investigative series called Tough Start”.

“The multi-part series exposed the gargantuan challenges faced by children from the Traveller community across key areas impacting their development and opportunities, including access to healthcare and education, and humane living conditions.

“At the core of this process was a centring of the Traveller experience and of Traveller voices.

“Two centrepieces to the project were the twin investigations into the health and education outcomes for Traveller children in Ireland in 2021, and the lack of policy and targeted actions to tackle the dire rates of mortality, disability, mental illness, school leaving and career advancement.

The Traveller community has traditionally not been afforded much of a voice in Irish media, politics or society at large. A key objective of this project was to return that voice to that marginalised community. The series has attracted extensive praise and support from Traveller groups that confirms this objective was achieved. 

Catrina Sheridan, the Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross, said that “honest, fearless, and impartial journalism is a cornerstone of humanitarianism”.

“This award recognises an individual’s outstanding contribution to humanitarian storytelling in the media and has helped inspire others to make lasting changes in society. Both Michelle and Maria were deservedly shortlisted for this brilliant work,” she said.

Michelle Hennessy said it “could not have been achieved without the various Traveller organisations and experts who spoke to us, as well as the groups of Traveller children who were generous enough to give us their time and share their stories”.

“It’s a piece of work we are both so proud of and we’re delighted to be shortlisted in this important category,” she said.

Ken Gibson, Tammy Darcy and Rory Halpin have been shortlisted for Humanitarian of the Year.

Saoi O’Connor, Harry Nolan and Joshua Deegan are nominated for the Young Humanitarian Award, with a special mention to Zoey Coffey.

The Innovation for Change Award’s shortlist features Teen-Turn, The Shona Project and Sing Out With strings, while the shortlist for the Digital Influence Award includes the Digital Charity Lab, The Shona Project, and Fionnula Jones.

The Hotel Doolin – Green Team Programme is shortlisted for the Corporate Impact Award.

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