Darwish has earned his second nomination for a Newsbrand Ireland Journalism Award in two years
By James Roulston Mooney
UL Alumni Mostafa Darwish has earned a Newsbrand Ireland Journalism Awards nomination in the Podcast of the Year category for his work alongside Noel Baker on the Irish Examiner story, ‘The Lost American’.
The Egyptian-born journalist completed his master’s degree in Journalism at UL in 2021 and has earned national recognition for his work since.
The nomination is Darwish’s second in two years – the previous nomination led to a win in the Investigative Journalism category for his investigation into deaths in Direct Provision.
Darwish’s latest shortlisted piece is a continuation of his previous piece, a two-parter focusing on the story of Thomas Stofiel, who was an American resident in a Tralee direct provision centre when he died in October 2020.
“It was part of the investigation I published last year about suicide in Direct Provision,” the former Limerick Voice reporter noted.
“When people in the Irish Examiner saw Thomas’s story, they asked me to team up with Noel [Baker] to make a big story about it with deep coverage.”
Darwish does not feel pride in the achievement of earning a national nomination, but rather a sense of happiness that issues such as the ones covered in these pieces are being brought to the fore.
“I wouldn’t be being honest if I told you I feel anything special,” Darwish admitted. “I just feel good that the case I believed in since moving to Ireland is being recognised, especially after the notable lack of good quality coverage or even any coverage on the topic of death in Direct Provision.”
Direct Provision has been a controversial form of accommodation for asylum seekers in the country since its inception in 2000. Over 7,000 people are living in DP centres and emergency accommodation, according to figures made public in December 2021, with 161 people living in County Limerick centres.
‘The Lost American’ co-writer, Noel Baker, is also an award-winning journalist with a prestigious career to boot, and Darwish was grateful for the opportunity to work with him on this piece.
The pair spent months tracking the whereabouts of Stofiel in a timeline spanning three years, beginning across the Atlantic in Oregon, USA.
Darwish underlined the importance of publishing such a piece and stated that people must know what is going on inside Ireland’s accommodation services.
“I think it’s very important to cover stories like Thomas’, and give them the same level of importance as any other story in the community – not just as a small part for the sake of covering diversity groups.
“It’s important to inform people of what’s going on inside DP, homeless centres or any place that is designed by the state to accommodate vulnerable communities.”
‘The Lost American’ is available on the Irish Examiner website in long read form and as a podcast, as well as on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.