Irish News scoops accolades at Regional Press Awards

Irish News journalist and columnist Allison Morris with awards host and radio presenter Nick Ferrari

THE Irish News has scooped two prestigious accolades at the Regional Press Awards in London.

Security correspondent and weekly columnist Allison Morris was named columnist of the year, in a ceremony recognising the best regional and local journalism across Britain and Northern Ireland.

The judges praised her work on "bold subjects", including the 2016 Buncrana pier tragedy, and described it as "emotionally and intellectually exceptional".

"She is a powerful voice that is determined to be heard," they said.

Neil Loughran also won the closely-fought daily/Sunday sports journalist of the year award.

The judges described him as producing "tremendous writing on a great variety of subjects".

"His feature on former Gaelic footballer Peter Withnell charted his rise from relative obscurity to helping his county win an All-Ireland title. It was a riveting read."

Irish News sports reporter Andy Watters and columnist Jarlath Kearney were also shortlisted for awards.

Irish News editor Noel Doran said he was thrilled by the accolades.

"I am delighted for Allison and Neil, as they have produced outstanding contributions to our paper," he said.

"It is also great that Andy and Jarlath got well deserved recognition so it was a great day overall for The Irish News."

The front page of the year award went to sister paper the Derry News.

The story, entitled Held by her Hero, focused on the rescue of baby Rionaghac-Ann McGrotty, from Derry, by passer-by Davitt Walsh just before five members of her family lost their lives in the Buncrana pier tragedy.

The judges said: "This front page reflected the only light to come out of a very dark story. The straightforward design and heading are all that was needed."

Meanwhile, Sunday Life journalist Ali Gordon won daily/Sunday reporter of the year while the paper was also named best newspaper with a circulation of more than 20,000.

Irish News managing director Dominic Fitzpatrick praised the winners.

"The overall results are a tremendous reflection of the depth of talent in journalism in the north. To be recognised at this level is a fantastic achievement."

Paul Horrocks, chairman of the judges and former editor of the Manchester Evening News, said: "Once again the Society of Editors is proud to host the premier awards recognising the fantastic journalism produced in the regions.

"They recognise the enormous contribution journalism makes to the fabric of the UK and to communities where journalists uncover issues which others would prefer remain hidden."

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