Olivia O’Leary – Chairperson
Olivia O’Leary is an accomplished broadcaster and journalist, with experience in television and radio programmes for the BBC, ITV and RTÉ. She has presented BBC Television’s ‘Newsnight’, Yorkshire Television’s ‘First Tuesday’ and Thames Television’s ‘This Week’, as well as RTÉ Radio’s ‘Sunday Show’ and ‘The News at One Thirty’ and RTÉ Television’s ‘Today Tonight’, ‘Questions and Answers’, ‘Prime Time’ and ‘Later with O’Leary’. She has won three Jacob’s Awards and a Cross Pen Award for her work. She has also presented the Sony Award-winning BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Between Ourselves’.
As a print journalist, Ms. O’Leary has written about politics for The Irish Times, the Sunday Tribune and The Sunday Business Post. With Dr. Helen Burke, she has co-written the authorised biography of former Irish President, Mary Robinson, published by Hodder and Stoughton.
Ms. O’Leary currently presents a weekly political column for RTÉ’s ‘Drivetime’ radio programme. Two collections of her radio columns, ‘Politicians and Other Party Animals’ and ‘Party Animals’, have been published by O’Brien Press. Born in Borris, Co. Carlow, she has one daughter and lives in Dublin.
Conor Brady is probably best known as a former editor of The Irish Times, a position he held from 1986 to 2002. He was previously Deputy Editor, Night Editor and Features Editor at the newspaper. From 1980 to 1982, Mr. Brady held the position of Editor of the now-defunct Sunday Tribune. Prior to taking up this role, he worked as a reporter for RTÉ’s ‘News at One’ and ‘This Week’ programmes.
During his time as Editor of The Irish Times, Mr. Brady was president of the World Editors Forum (Paris) and was Chair of the advisory council of the European Journalism Centre at Maastricht, holding each post for a four-year term.
Since leaving The Irish Times, he has worked as a visiting professor at the City University of New York (2003 to 2005) and was nominated by the Government to be a founding Commissioner of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (2005 to 2011).
He is author of the non-fiction ‘Guardians of the Peace’ (1974) and ‘Up With The Times’ (2005), and his first fiction book, ‘A June of Ordinary Murders’ was published in 2012.
Mr. Brady was born in Dublin, raised in Tullamore and educated at Mount Saint Joseph Cistercian College, Roscrea, and at University College Dublin. He is married to Ann Byron, a teacher, and they have two adult sons. He lives in Dún Laoghaire.
Mary Corcoran is a Professor of Sociology at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Her research and teaching interests lie primarily in the field of Irish migratory processes, urban transformations and change, and public culture. Prof. Corcoran’s research has focused on topics varying from an examination of the norms, values and professional orientations of Irish journalists, to an analysis of urban and suburban life in Ireland. Her published work includes ‘Irish Illegals: transients between two societies’ (1993) and ‘A Sociology of Ireland – Fourth Edition’ (2012, with Perry Share and Brian Conway).
Over the last decade, Prof. Corcoran has participated in several national and international research projects and networks exploring various aspects of urban and suburban life. She was a founding member of the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) at NUI Maynooth, which received government funding under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) scheme in 2001.
Prof. Corcoran is currently a member of the Governing Authority of NUI Maynooth, and has also served as a member of the Senate of the NUI (2007-2012) and the National Economic and Social Forum (2004-2010). A past President of the Sociological Association of Ireland, she twice represented the association on the Royal Irish Academy Social Sciences Committee. She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University, New York, and appears occasionally as a social commentator on Irish radio and television.
Sheila Ahern has worked as a researcher for the past 25 years, and has made a significant contribution to some of the most influential television programmes ever broadcast in Ireland. Concentrating on factual and historical content, much of Ms. Ahern’s work has focused on social issues that have highlighted fundamental flaws in Irish society. She was also a long-time collaborator with Mary Raftery, and worked with her on numerous occasions. Mary and Sheila were close friends, sharing a principled, sensitive and ethical approach to their work.
In particular, Ms. Ahern played an important role in the documentary for which Mary Raftery is best known, ‘States of Fear’. First broadcast in 1999, the series presented the public with evidence of physical and sexual abuse of children in residential care institutions in Ireland. Ms. Ahern also worked with Mary on the 2011 series ‘Behind the Walls’, which probed the history of psychiatric institutions in Ireland. She has contributed her interviewing and researching skills to a number of ‘Prime Time’ special investigations for RTÉ Television, as well as ‘Whistleblower’, a two-part docu-drama on the controversy over the extremely high number of hysterectomies performed by Dr. Michael Neary over 24 years in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co. Louth.
Having worked with RTÉ from 1987 to 2000, Sheila now works as a freelance researcher, writer and radio contributor. She holds a Master of Arts degree from University College Dublin, is an elected member of the Board of the Crafts Council of Ireland, and is currently an external assessor for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s ‘Sound and Vision’ scheme.
On the day of the launch of the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund, RTE published a guest essay by Ms. Ahern, chronicling her relationship with the crusading journalist, which can be read here.
Ed Mulhall is from Athy Co. Kildare and a graduate in Politics and Economics from Trinity College Dublin. He joined RTÉ as a radio producer in Features and Current Affairs in 1979 and was appointed Assistant Head of Features and Current Affairs in 1985. He moved to TV as a Television Producer in 1988 and then to RTÉ News as a Programme Editor for the launch of the Six One News. He was appointed Managing Editor of TV News in 1994, Director of News in 1997 and Managing Director of News and Current Affairs in 2002.In these roles he was in charge of all major special event coverage, general elections and oversaw a number of documentary and investigative projects. He was a member of the RTÉ Executive Board from 1997 until his resignation and retirement from RTÉ in 2012.
Since then he has worked on a number of media projects and is currently editorial advisor to the News Department of the European Broadcasting Union and editorial advisor to Century Ireland. He is also a Research Associate in Trinity College Dublin and involved in media training programmes.
He has written research pieces for Century Ireland and contributed a journal article on RTE and the Irish Banking Crisis to the special communications issue of Eire Ireland .
Former judges include:
Colm Tóibín has worked as a journalist, editor and author for more than 30 years. He was Features Editor of In Dublin magazine when Mary Raftery joined the staff of the publication in her first job as a journalist. Mary subsequently went on to credit Mr. Tóibín as perhaps the greatest influence on her journalism career. The pair also worked together during Mr. Tóibín’s time as Editor of Magill magazine (1982-1985) and they remained friends until her death.
In addition to his work with In Dublin and Magill, Mr. Tóibín also contributed to Hibernia and the Sunday Tribune before leaving Ireland to travel in Africa and South America in 1985. His journalism from the 1980s was collected in ‘The Trial of The Generals’ (1990). That same year, two of his earliest novels were published: ‘The South’ and ‘Homage to Barcelona’, both of which he wrote while living in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Since then, Mr. Tóibín has become one of Ireland’s most successful writers. Amongst his many novels are ‘The Master’, winner of the 2004 Dublin IMPAC prize, the LA Times Novel of the Year, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; and ‘Brooklyn’, winner of the 2009 Costa Novel of the Year.
He has twice been Stein Visiting Writer at Stanford University and has also been a visiting writer at the Michener Centre at the University of Texas, Austin. He taught at Princeton between 2009 and 2011, and was Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Manchester in the autumn of 2011. He is currently Irene and Sidney B. Silverberg Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and a Contributing Editor at the London Review of Books. He is a member of Aosdána, the Royal Society of Literature, and was appointed to the Arts Council of Ireland in 2006. His work has been translated into 30 languages.