Thursday, 9 October 2008

NALIL - Slugger Political Blogger of 2008

Slugger O'Toole, Northern Ireland's premier political blog, staged its first ever awards night on Tuesday, October 7, in W5 at the Odyssey in Belfast.

NALIL was nominated in the political blog category and the judges put it on the short list.

I got a call from Mick Fealty, SO'T producer, inquiring if I'd be coming up/down to Belfast for the ceremony. My instinctive reaction was to say no, not because I'm particularly shy, but because group settings can generate a claustrophobic response. Mick persisted, I phoned a friend, she said yes and we let the train take the strain!! [Photo: Brian Feeney, me and David Gordon]

The journey involved a change of train at Belfast Central. We'd not anticipated that there were two trains departing for Bangor at nearly the same time and we very nearly took the one that didn't stop at Bridge End. Signage at Bridge End for the Odyssey was far from clear so it wasn't surprising that we headed off in the wrong direction. A couple out walking there dog came to our aid and we trekked off back towards Bridge End and on to the Odyssey.

GraĆ­nne from Strategem NI was there to greet us and to show us the way to the awards venue. I recognised some journalists and politicians but most of the milling throng were strangers to me - as I was to them.

Mick welcomed everyone and Tim McGarry, in true taxi-driver style, linked the various presentations together with his customary wit. The political blogger award was listed at #8 and, lo and behold, the winner was - NALIL. I remained remarkably calm as I navigated my way up to the front for the presentation, the photograph and then the pose for the caricature by the Guardian's, Martin Rowson. [Photo: Me and Mick Fealty]

Many thanks, Mick, for your persistence and encouragement. The crack was great, I'm glad I went. I can even forgive the Slugger contributor who, on proffering congratulations, said, "I never read your blog" :)

Sorry I couldn't join you for dinner in the Rotunda at the Europa. Were Portballintrae lobsters or Church Bay prawns or Blackside Forest Gateau on the menu? Perhaps I should put in an FoI request ....

PS A big thank you to those from North Antrim and further afield who provided the photographs, the documents and all the other ingredients that have been the basis for NALIL blog stories since July 2007. They know who they are!!

flickr: Slugger Awards group