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Dan Danaher. Photograph by John Kelly

National Justice Media Award for Clare Champion journalist

The Clare Champion’s Dan Danaher has won a Merit Award at the National Justice Media Awards for special report on the family law courts.
Mr Danaher won the award in the Print and Online Journalism category for a story entitled “Clare woman seeks reform of family law courts which ‘bankrupt’ victims”.
“I am thrilled to win a Merit Award at the Justice Media Awards. I am very grateful to the Clare woman who shared what was a very distressing experience of emotional abuse,” he said.
“She highlighted the upset trying to deal with the legal system seeking a divorce which cost in the region of €200,000. She felt retraumatised by the legal letters that came through her letter box. When her husband superseded her with papers, she felt he was in control and experienced a torrid time until she eventually proved her case.”
Commenting on the story, the judging panel commended the work of Mr Danaher.
“This special report outlined the need for an overhaul of family law proceedings. The journalist carefully shared the story of a woman seeking divorce and highlighted real access to justice issues within the family courts system,” they said.
The women quoted in the story was subject to psychological and physical abuse, and called for a major reform of family law proceedings.
For the purposes of the article the woman in question remained anonymous due to legal reasons.
She claimed that the domestic abuse she endured continued due to vexatious coercion through litigation, even when her now ex-husband had left the home.
However the DPP found there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution.
In the story, she said that the legal system proved to be very financially and personally draining.
“When you get your final court bill, you don’t know if it is someone’s phone number or is actual money,” she said.
“It is one thing to have domestic violence in your house. When the domestic violence stops, this is when the coercion through litigation starts.
“Domestic violence started coming through my email and letter box.
“The legal system allowed this to happen. The system doesn’t work. Hell would have been easier than this.
“What happened in my home, I survived it just about. I became as much a victim of the legal system as I did from a narcissist abuser.”
After the woman secured a protection order, her ex-husband superserved her with custody papers and then he became the applicant, through lengthy legal proceedings.
“You go to the courts for help. You are the applicant. But then he goes to a solicitor, superserves you and becomes the applicant for a bigger case. He is driving the bus for the rest of the journey so you better wear your seat belt and take travel sickness tablets because you will need it,” she said.
“You don’t know where he is going or when it is going to end.”
Mr Danaher previously won an Irish Justice Media Award in 2018, while he was shortlisted in 2022. He was also the winner of the Local Ireland news series of the year award in 2017.

About Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a journalist, writer and podcaster based in the west of Ireland.

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