Journalism fund to mark work of late Mary Raftery

Thu, Sep 27, 2012, 01:00

A €120,000 fund to promote investigative journalism and commemorate the work of the late Mary Raftery was launched yesterday in Dublin.

The Mary Raftery Journalism Fund, sponsored for the next 12 months by philanthropic organisation The One Foundation, was initiated by the family and friends of Raftery, who died in January this year.

The journalist, who worked in broadcasting for RTÉ and wrote for The Irish Times, was best known for her work on the institutional and clerical abuse of children and on the women of the Magdalene laundries.

Speaking at the launch, Ombudsman  Emily O’Reilly said investigative journalism was an expensive commodity but vital “for the holding of the State and of its institutions to account”.

“Nothing represents the truth of that more than the journalism of Mary Raftery,” she said. The fund would be “a trailblazer, a signifier of excellence” and “a raiser of standards”, she said, but “more than anything” it would also be “a fitting and profound tribute” to the memory of Raftery.

The new fund will provide individual applicants with up to €18,000 to carry out investigative work in the areas of mental health, migrant issues and children’s rights. Up to €40,000 will be available for allocation in each of three rounds of funding. The first round, on the theme of mental health, will close on November 16th.

Applications will be assessed by a panel chaired by journalist Olivia O’Leary. Other members of the panel are author Colm Tóibín, former editor of The Irish Times Conor Brady, Dr Mary Corcoran, professor of sociology at NUI Maynooth and Sheila Ahern, researcher and former colleague of Ms Raftery.

Ms Raftery’s husband, David Waddell, said her friends and family were very pleased with the set-up of the fund. Mary Norris, who was interviewed by Raftery for her book Suffer the Little Children and documentary States of Fear, said more journalists such as Raftery were needed to “speak the truth”.Details of the fund are available at maryrafteryfund.ie

* This article was amended on September 27th, 2012 to correct a factual error.