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Reporter wins national recognition for child sex abuse probe

A reporter who led a ground-breaking investigation into historical child sexual abuse on his patch has won a prestigious national award for his work.

Rodney Edwards, formerly of The Impartial Reporter and now working for the Irish Sunday Independent, scooped The Regional Media Award at last night’s Amnesty International UK Media Awards 2020.

The Newsquest-owned title’s investigation, led by Rodney, unearthed 70 victims of child sexual abuse perpetrated by scores of alleged abusers.

As a result of the newspaper’s findings the Police Service of Northern Ireland has arrested 11 people in connection with the cases.

The award was handed out in an online ceremony yesterday evening, replacing the normal event in central London.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International UK, said: “Rodney Edwards’ tireless and sensitive investigation of child sexual abuse in Fermanagh is an example of local media at its absolute best – courageous dedication to the truth and utter empathy for victims.

“The fact that his reporting in the Impartial Reporter led to a large-scale police investigation and arrests, shows the power of local journalists as human rights champions.

“At a time when journalists in Northern Ireland continue to live under threat of violence, the work recognised by these awards is a reminder of how important a free and fearless press is for justice.”

Said Rodney: “Throughout this investigation our aim was to shine a light on a dark past by revealing uncomfortable truths and challenging the social order in County Fermanagh. Journalism is vital to our democracy, but so is listening to people.

“I am very proud of what we achieved at The Impartial Reporter and pay tribute to my former colleagues for their unwavering support and every single victim who came forward to tell their story and allowed us to listen.”

Impartial Reporter editor Mark Conway added: “This is fitting recognition for Rodney’s superb work and the journalism of The Impartial Reporter.

“Rodney led this investigation from the front, he treated the alleged victims with great respect and gave them a voice when previously no-one would listen to them. All at the paper welcomes this recognition and the fight for justice will continue.”