Belfast Telegraph

'Fearless' journalist Raftery dies

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has led tributes to a groundbreaking journalist who lifted the lid on clerical and institutional abuse in Ireland.

Mary Raftery's fearless investigations to uncover generations of abuse led to the setting up of several State inquiries which shocked the nation.

She died on Tuesday morning at the age of 54 following an illness, and is survived by her husband, David Waddell, and their son, Ben.

Archbishop Martin said work by the late broadcaster and journalist contributed to the Church being a better place for children.

"Bringing the truth out is always a positive thing even though it may be a painful truth," he told RTE. "I believe that through her exposition of sins of the past and of the moment that the church is a better place for children and a place which has learned many lessons."

The award-winning broadcaster was best known for 1999 RTE documentary series, States Of Fear, which unveiled the extent of physical and sexual abuse suffered by children in the Irish childcare system during the 20th century - particularly in industrial and special schools run by religious orders on behalf of the Irish state. It was followed by a co-authored book on the issue.

The Irish Government responded with the setting up of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

Published nine years later, the Ryan Report revealed the church hierarchy and Irish Government covered up almost four decades of sexual abuse and beatings by priests and nuns on thousands of children in state care, with serial abusers moved from school to school.

Ms Raftery also produced and directed Prime Time Investigates: Cardinal Secrets in 2001, which led to the Murphy Report into child sexual abuse in Dublin and, later, in Cloyne.It found the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland was granted immunity to cover up child sex abuse among paedophile priests in Dublin.

RTE director-general Noel Curran said Raftery's journalism was defined by determination and fearlessness. He said: "Her record in broadcasting is extraordinary, and not just in current affairs, with which she is most associated."

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