NNI Press Pass Winners Announced


The NNI Press Pass Awards 2014 winners with the Minister for Education, Ms Jan O’Sullivan TD, Vincent Crowley, Chairman NNI and Martin Sisk, President Irish League of Credit Unions.

Educational role of newspapers highlighted at NNI Press Pass Awards

The 2014 NNI Press Pass awards took place this afternoon, with Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan TD presenting the winning Transition Year students with their trophies. The awards marked the culmination of the third annual National Newspapers of Ireland Press Pass initiative, which is sponsored by the Irish League of Credit Unions.

Launched in 2012, NNI Press Pass seeks to improve literacy skills and critical thinking and increased awareness of media and news among Transition Year classes by providing free national and local newspapers to participating schools. As part of the programme, students are encouraged to analyse a range of newspaper content – with the help of a free guidebook – and enter their own journalism in a national writing and photojournalism competition.

The initiative has been hailed as a resounding success by both the Department of Education, which has supported NNI Press Pass since its inception, and the newspaper industry. It is estimated that more than 50,000 students from around the country have now taken part in NNI Press Pass since it was launched.

The overall winner of the 2014 NNI Press Pass competition was Ciara McArdle from Pobalscoil na Trínóide in Youghal with a thought-provoking article on technology.

Minister hails “very positive” Press Pass initiative

Speaking at today’s NNI event, Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan congratulated the winners of this year’s Press Pass competition and commended the newspaper industry for giving secondary level students access to newspapers.

“Press Pass is a very positive initiative that has the potential to improve students’ reading and writing skills while also encouraging them to examine and discuss the events that are shaping the news media agenda,” the Minister said.  “The entries into the competition are of a very high standard and demonstrate that a love of writing and appreciation of the power of language and images is valued among transition year students.

“NNI is to be praised for having devised this initiative, and for providing both newspapers and supporting materials free of charge to schools,” the Minister added.

The 2014 NNI Press Pass was again sponsored by the Irish League of Credit Unions, whose President Martin Sisk attended today’s awards ceremony.

“We’re very proud to be associated with such a worthwhile initiative as Press Pass, which can play a vital role in boosting young people’s literacy skills,” said Mr Sisk. “Credit Unions have a long history of helping young people in various ways and we are delighted to partner with NNI in making a positive contribution to the education of future generations.”

Competition winners

Transition Year students from around Ireland participated in this year’s Press Pass writing competition, with awards presented in five categories as well as the overall prize.

Overall winner:

Ciara McArdle, Pobalscoil na Trínóide, Youghal

 Category winners:

News – Donna Fitzgerald, Coláiste na Sceilge, Cahirciveen

 Features – Eanna O’Cosgora, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway

Photojournalism – Orla Doheny, Rosemont School, Dublin

Comment/opinion – Aisling Eaton, Our Lady’s College, Drogheda

Sport – Ella Curtin, St Mary’s Secondary School, Macroom


Newspapers in education

Speaking at the awards ceremony in Dublin’s Convention Centre today, NNI Chairman Vincent Crowley said that NNI Press Pass shows how newspapers can be used as a real-life educational tool in classrooms.

“Research has clearly shown that reading newspapers can help students to develop not only their reading and writing skills but also their critical thinking and social awareness,” he said. “These are skills that help people throughout their lives and their careers, it is understandable therefore that so many schools and students around Ireland have been very keen to take part.

“This year’s national writing competition generated a large volume of entries of a very high standard,” Mr Crowley said. “Today’s awards give us a glimpse of the future of Irish journalism and help to ensure that newspapers – across all platforms, print and digital – remain the relevant, agenda-setting and trusted force they are today,” concluded Mr Crowley.

For further information: Ann Marie Lenihan. amlenihan@newsbrandsireland.ie

NNI Press Pass Winners

Overall WinnerCiara McArdlePobalscoil na Trínóide, Youghal
Features School
1stEanna O’CosgoraColáiste Iognáid, Galway
2ndAoife OsborneSchoil Mhuire Gan Smal, Blarney
3rdElmarie O’BrienColáiste an Chraoibhín, Fermoy
Opinion School
1stAisling EatonOur Lady’s College, Drogheda
2ndBobbi Nic EoinPobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, Daingean Uí Chúis
3rdLucy ÁghasPobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, Daingean Uí Chúis
News School
1stDonna FitzgeraldColáiste na Sceilge, Cahirciveen
2ndCara WoodsSt Joseph’s Convent of Mercy, Navan
3rdMaeve McWalterMount St Michael Secondary School, Claremorris
Sport School
1stElla CurtinSt Mary’s Secondary School, Macroom
2ndEoin ConnellyPobalscoil na Trínóide, Youghal
3rdOrlaith MoylesDunshaughlin Community School
Photojournalism School
1stOrla DohenyRosemont School, Dublin
2ndMichael JanikSt Joseph’s Secondary School, Drogheda
3rdGrace KennyGorey Community School


NNI Press Pass Awards 2014 – Judges’ Citations

Overall Winner – Ciara McArdle, Pobalscoil na Trínóide, Youghal

Our overall winner takes a contemporary theme by the neck, and shakes it until its teeth rattle – but with humour, and insight, and a mature command of language that was particularly striking.  The questions raised by this article, I might add, are ones that have just begun to come to the forefront of public discussion generally, and they will be with us for a long time.

News Category Winner – Donna Fitzgerald,  Coláiste na Sceilge, Cahirciveen,Co Kerry.

Childline is arguably one of the most important helplines in the country, throwing a lifeline to tens of thousands of children who for a myriad of reasons can’t cope.

 This news story, outlining how the ISPCC  night time service was facing closure due to a lack of funding, tugged at the heartstrings yet  had the hard-hitting structure and  detail that you would expect from a page one news story in a national newspaper.

 Its killer line had to be the ISPCC volunteer who questioned if she was supposed to tell children to “put that hurt on hold… ring us when the service is actually open”.

Features Category Winner – Eanna O’Cosgora, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway

 My editor who was a previous judge on the NNI Press Pass competition said, “Ciara, one entry will stand out from the rest”. From the moment I read the winner of our feature category, that is exactly what it did, and the rest of the judges agreed. Another brave piece, this feature takes an unconventional tone in its writing-short, snappy, effective sentences reflecting the sudden and intense thoughts that the author experiences during the death of his Dad. A myriad of thoughts….


 How can a son live without their father?

 The end came so fast.

 Eanna O’Cosgora’s piece ‘Dad’ is extremely raw and honest, a piece that would be a challenge for any writer to present so eloquently. The fact that the author is a teenager is even more admirable. A worthy winner in a category with very strong entries.

 Opinion Category Winner – Aisling Eaton, Our Lady’s College, Drogheda

The category winner caused huge debate among the judges. Some liked her piece, some didn’t. And that’s exactly what a good opinion piece should do – cause debate.

It’s ok if people don’t like your comment piece,  it’s ok if they disagree with it. The very fact that they are talking about it means that you have achieved you goal. We write these pieces so that somebody reads them and engages with them.

Aisling Eaton’s piece, entitled ‘At it like rabbits’, was incredibly personal. She placed herself at the heart of the story, something that can be a huge risk in journalism.

However, in this case it made for a powerful example of why Ireland needs better sexual education in schools.

Having read the piece it would be incredibly difficult to argue against Aisling’s contention that schools do not adequately educate young people about sex and relationships.

The judges each had to read dozens of articles as part of this competition the one  all of us remembered was ‘At it like rabbits’ and for that reason our winner is Aisling Eaton.


Sport Category Winner – Ella Curtin, St Mary’s Secondary School, Macroom

 The debate about equality is everywhere in Irish life right now as the countdown continues to the referendum on same sex marriages which has featured in more than one entry this year.

 Sport is no different and our winner, a Cork woman with strong feelings on the subject, tackles the issue of equality for Irish sports women in the Irish media.

 Tackling the subject from a Cork GAA perspective, she asks why so little is made of the fact that dual stars Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery have 14 All-Ireland medals each, why the lack of fuss over Briege’s 13 All-Stars.

 As usual, she says, ‘we are invisible’. When the Cork hurlers and footballers failed to leave any real imprint on their All-Irelands last season, the message regarding male dual players was clear – it’s just impossible to excel at both.

 Our winner isn’t having that and remarks ‘Just because a man can’t do it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done’. She advises the government to introduce PE as a leaving cert subject and urges young girls to start the GAA’s sporting revolution now, promising that in years to come Maurice Davin and Michael Cusack will look down on them and smile with pride at their achievements.

 Our winner can be proud of her achievement here today.