Journalist Who Exposed Abuse of Children in State Care Dies

By Sarah Stack
Irish Independent
January 10, 2012

Mary Raftery

JOURNALIST Mary Raftery (54) whose documentary 'States of Fear' exposed the extent of physical and sexual abuse of children in State run institutions, has died following an illness.

For the last 15 years she had been a fearless critic of both Church and State.

The 1999 documentary chronicled the horrific conditions of children who were cared for in Irish orphanages run by religious orders.

Her work led to the establishment of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and later the Residential Institutions Redress Board which provided compensation to victims of abuse in institutions run by 18 religious orders.

Colm O'Gorman, who founded the One in Four organisation for victims of sex abuse tweeted: "Very sad to hear about the death of Mary Raftery. One of our finest journalists & filmmakers. A courageous, principled, wonderful woman."

He later said that she had done this society an extraordinary service.

Fellow broadcaster Joe Duffy posted on his Twitter account: "Mary Raftery - honest, dignified, determined , good humoured RIP.

Speaking on Morning Ireland RTE journalist Mick Peelo, who worked with her, said: "Mary was a force to contend with. She was ruthless, fearless and tireless in getting to the truth."

RTE Director General Noel Curran today said her journalism was defined by determination and fearlessness.

"Her record in broadcasting is extraordinary, and not just in current affairs, with which she is most associated," he said. "She has left an important legacy for Irish society, particularly for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

"RTE will remain sincerely grateful to Mary for the powerful contribution she made to public service broadcasting."

Her series of three States of Fear documentaries had a huge impact and prompted a public apology by then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to the abuse victims on behalf of the state.

In 2002 she made a Prime Time programme 'Cardinal Secrets' which led to the establishment of the Commission of Investigation into clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.

Ms Raftery wrote extensively on the plight of former residents of state-run institutions and was a regular commentator on the issue on radio and TV.

The well-known journalist last year made 'Behind the Walls' revealing damning evidence of appalling conditions in Ireland's psychiatric hospitals.

She was nominated for the Journalist of the Year award by the National Newspapers of Ireland 2011.

She worked for RTE from 1984 2002 and later wrote a column for the Irish Times.

A native of Dublin she studied engineering at UCD before joining RTE as a producer on Today Tonight and then Prime Time.

Her investigative journalism also included exposing the plight of inmates of the Magdalene laundries, medical negligence, deaths in Garda custody and the activities of property developers.

She worked for a period in the 1980s for Magill magazine.

Ms Raftery is survived by her husband David Waddell and her son Ben.


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