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UL Journalism graduate scoops top Press Council Award

Mary Dundon, Senior lecturer in Journalism at University of Limerick, with Sean Donlon Chair of the Press Council and UL graduate Muireann Duffy, who won the top bursary award of the Press Council of Ireland for a series of articles she wrote on how cancer patients are treated Picture: Photocall Ireland
Mon, 14 Oct 2019

A University of Limerick journalism graduate has scooped the top bursary award of the Press Council of Ireland for a series of articles she wrote on how cancer patients are treated.

Muireann Duffy, 21, won the €1,000 prize for her articles, which were part of her undergraduate thesis at UL.

The articles focused on the Government's failure to deliver on their pledge to deliver psycho-oncology units in six of the eight acute general hospitals nationwide.

Sean Donlon, Chair of the Press Council, said the University of Limerick graduate had won the top bursary award for the professional manner in which she approached a topic of serious public interest.

“The reason she got the first prize was because she selected a topic that was of great current interest because of all the publicity in relation to cervical cancer.

“Her approach to the topic was fact based and presented very well. I thought she brought out the main ingredients of what a journalist should be. She won it very easily,” said Mr Donlon.

A native of Kilfenora in North Clare, Muireann Duffy graduated with a first class honours degree in Journalism and New Media from the University of Limerick last August.

Earlier this year the 21-year-old was nominated for Student Journalist of the Year at the 2019 National Student Media Awards for an interview she did with cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan.

Speaking about her latest achievement Muireann - who is now completing a masters degree in sports journalism at St Mary’s University in Twickenham, London -  said it was “lovely to get a bit of recognition”.

“I’m delighted to win the prize, I wasn’t expecting it. It is great to get this acknowledgement but definitely the help I got from all the journalism staff at UL and my own classmates was very helpful. I think the standard was very high in our class and we drove each other to do the best we could.”

Congratulating Muireann on her award, Henry Silke, Head of Journalism at University of Limerick said her work underlines the important yet often neglected role of investigative journalism.

“Muireann's investigation into the lack of mental health resources for cancer patients is shocking, and we hope that her highlighting of the issue may have some impact in the future,” he said.

“We are delighted with Muireann's award, and believe that her work underlines the often neglected role of investigative journalism.  

Mary Dundon, Senior lecturer in Journalism at University of Limerick supervised Muireann for her final year thesis.

“Muireann researched her topic forensically and applied the best investigative journalism methods to revealing information about a matter of serious public interest - the Government's failures to honour their pledge to deliver psycho-oncology units to eight acute general hospitals nationwide."

The Press Council Busary was established in recent years by the council and is open to work completed by third-level journalism or media students.

Joint second place at the awards were Sarah Gallagher of DCU, who wrote a series of articles on transgender people, and Janice Furphy of Coláiste Dhúlaigh, who focused on the Stardust fire tragedy of 40 years ago.

A commendation award was made to Julia Tereno of NUI Galway for a range of articles including the gun control laws in her native Brazil.