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RTE'S Tony Connolly is St. Columb's College Illuminist for 2019

Tony Connolly was honoured as this year's St. Columb's College illuminist winner

Last Friday evening St Columb’s College Past Pupils’ Union presented its Alumnus Illustrissimus Award for 2019 to Tony Connelly, Europe Editor for RTÉ. 

Tony Connelly was born in Portstewart in 1964, moving to Derry at the age of six. A member of the Class of 1983 at St Columb’s College, Tony went on to Trinity College, Dublin, graduating with a degree in English. He undertook post-graduate study at the London School of Journalism. On completion of his studies Tony took up a post with the Oxford Courier. Returning to Ireland in 1990, he worked with the Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Time and United Press International before joining RTÉ in 1994 as a television and radio reporter. In 2001 he was appointed Europe correspondent for RTÉ News and Current Affairs.

Tony has reported extensively and with huge insight on the period before and after the Brexit referendum, and before that covered the European refugee crisis, the Greek debt situation, the Irish bail-out and the financial crisis dating back to 2008. He has also reported on conflicts in: Ukraine, Lebanon/Syria, Georgia, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Angola and Rwanda.

Tony is the recipient of two ESB National Media awards, a European Journalism Award and a New York Festivals Radio award for his radio documentary on the Shaktar Donetsk football club in Ukraine. In December 2018 he received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the UCD Smurfit Graduate School awards and in May 2019 he received a Law Society Justice Media Award for his coverage of the Brexit negotiations.

During 2018 and 2019 Tony was called twice as an expert witness to the House of Commons Committee for Exiting the European Union, the only journalist to give testimony to the Committee. He has also contributed OpEds on Brexit to the Financial Times and New Statesman.

Tony is the author of ‘Brexit and Ireland: The Dangers, the Opportunities and the Inside Story of the Irish Response’, published by Penguin Books in the autumn of 2017, which was shortlisted for Irish non-fiction book of the year 2017. A second edition was published in May 2018. His first book, ‘Don’t Mention the Wars: A Journey Through European Stereotypes’, was published in 2014 by New Island.

Son of Tim and the late Nance Connelly of Kingsfort Park, Tony is married with three sons and currently lives in Brussels.

President of the College Union, Dermot Carlin said ‘I am delighted that the College Union is to award the 2019 Alumnus Illustrissimus to Tony Connelly. Very much the man of the moment, in the context of the current Brexit impasse, we are honoured that Tony is able to take time out of his hectic schedule to be with us on 25th of October to receive the Award in person’.

The Alumnus Illustrissimus Award, the highest honour the College Union can bestow, was established in 1994 to acknowledge those past-pupils of St Columb’s College who have made significant contributions in the fields of Politics, Medicine, Literature, Music, Art and the Church at national and international level.

A most worthy recipient, Tony joins the pantheon of eminent old boys of the College which includes two Nobel Laureates and a panoply of high achievers in many disciplines.

Photos: Tom Heaney (nwpresspics)

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