Plain English Awards

A public pat on the back for organisations that communicate clearly.

Plain English Awards

The winners of the Plain English Awards for Ireland, sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran, were announced by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) on Monday 9 February 2019.

The winners in the ‘Best use of plain English by an organisation’ category, with a joint entry, were the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the National Disability Authority. Their winning entry is a Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service. The document shows workers in the public service how to produce communications that can be easily understood by members of the public.

In the digital category, the Passport Service won first place for their online passport renewal website. This service can be used by Irish citizens living anywhere in the world and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.


The full list of category winners are here:

Organisation: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the National Disability Authority
Document: Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service –
A Universal Design Approach (see document here)
Category: Best use of plain English by an organisation

Organisation: Passport Service
Entry: Online passport renewal website (see website here)
Category: Plain English in the digital world

Organisation: AIB
Document: The impact of rewriting three customer letters in plain English (see letters here)
Category: Plain English – the impact

Person: Clare O’Byrne
Entry: Financial letter (see letter here)
Category: Public category – best letter rewritten in plain English

Champions of plain English
A champion of plain English is someone who promotes the use of clear communication and plain language in their organisation. At this year’s awards, the following people were recognised as champions of plain English:
Liam Ronayne from Cork Library
Patricia Carey from the Adoption Authority of Ireland
Norma Deasy from the HSE
Mike Gogan from AIB
The facilitators of the knowledge transfer and exchange workshop at the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care.

There is also a list of highly commended entries available.


The aims of the Plain English Awards are to reward organisations that communicate clearly and to promote the use of plain English in all public information. Fifty organisations submitted over 70 entries that used plain English standards. An independent panel of experts were involved in the judging process.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the National Disability Authority, and the Passport Service won the award for presenting their information clearly in plain English. AIB won the award because their series of rewritten letters highlights the benefits for organisations of communicating in plain English.

The Plain English Awards are organised by NALA and sponsored by leading law firm Mason Hayes & Curran. The Awards were presented at a lunch in the Law Society of Ireland, Dublin.


Speaking about the awards, Inez Bailey, CEO, NALA said: “We developed these awards as we want to create a public preference for organisations that choose to communicate in plain English. Everyone benefits from clear information, written in plain language. Citizens are more likely to understand their rights, organisations are more likely to save money and governments are more likely to make better use of their resources.

We would like to congratulate the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the National Disability Authority, the Passport Service and AIB. They have won this award for thinking of the people who use their services and putting them first.”

Commenting on the sponsorship, Declan Black, Managing Partner at Mason Hayes & Curran said:

“We strongly support the use of plain English and are very pleased to sponsor these awards. Our job as lawyers often involves explaining complex information. We seek to do that clearly by using simple but accurate language. This approach applies particularly to the advice we give clients but also when we present a client’s position to another party or to a court. In our view, a good lawyer is always clear, accurate and, where possible, brief. We hope that our support of this award contributes to the use of plain language in everyday communications and we congratulate the winners on a job well done.”

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