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An editorial from the Galway Advertiser dealing with the number of water deaths in Galway City has been named as a winner in a global contest to honour the best editorial writing in weekly newspapers. The Golden Quill and Golden Dozen award winners for 2016 were announced by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors at a conference in Melbourne on Sunday.

One of those chosen as a winner was an editorial written by group editor Declan Varley published in the Galway Advertiser last year. The editorial entitled A River Runs Through It, dealt with the disappearance and death of young visiting student Brian Gubbins, who had fallen into the water after a night out in the city.

The Golden Quill contest is open to all weekly newspapers worldwide with the objective of encouraging excellence in newspaper editorial writing. The contest has been running for almost 60 years, and this is the third time that the Galway Advertiser has been selected as a winner. This is also the third time that Declan Varley has been named as a winner; firstly in 2003, then 2015, and now in 2016.

The judges, drawn from a selection of top newspapers in the US, Europe, Canada, and Australia went on to say that the article showed that “there is no doubt Declan is a true craftsman of journalism. His writing generates raw emotion as he reflects on the tragic death of a university student who drowned due to being unfamiliar with a waterway in the region.

“Declan assesses the tragedy and encourages the community to learn from it, for the benefit of the greater good. He highlights the value of local knowledge that the community takes for granted, but reminds readers of their obligation to ensure all visitors to the city are aware of hazards and to feel safe. Overall it was a beautifully written piece that stands out for its quality.”

Mr Varley has been group editor of the Galway Advertiser group for 16 years and has worked as a journalist and writer for more than three decades. Speaking last night he said that he is honoured to have been named as one of the winners.

“While there is obviously a personal excitement, the real fulfilment is that the Advertiser editorial slot has once again been recognised for its ability to highlight social and community issues. It will continue to occupy that role.

“Since the tragic death of Brian Gubbins, unfortunately many more families are mourning members who have lost their lives in our waters. Primarily, my thoughts are with all of them tonight,” he concluded.