There were three Awards rounds in 2012 and 2013 under the themes mental health, migrant issues and children’s rights. Awards totaling over €115,000 were made to 25 successful journalists from all strands of media. Successful projects included ‘Mental Health Care in the Community’ by Irish Times chief reporter Carl O’Brien; ‘Questionable Consent: Migrant Sex Work in Ireland’ by The Live Register production team on Dublin Community Television and ‘Sex education in Irish schools – What are children being taught?’ by freelance journalist, Peter Maguire.
The children’s issues round took place from 29th April – 21st June 2013.
Of all the work Mary Raftery completed in her career, she is best known for her involvement in ‘States of Fear’, a 1999 documentary series that presented the public with evidence of the physical and sexual abuse of children in residential care institutions in Ireland. The series is credited with leading to the establishment of the Ryan Commission of Inquiry into child sex abuse and the setting up of the Residential Institutions Redress Board.
Since then, controversies surrounding the care of vulnerable children in this State have occupied the headlines on numerous occasions. Most recently, the report of the Independent Child Death Review Group outlined the deaths of 196 children known to the State’s childcare services between 2000 and 2010.
Issues concerning child poverty and the juvenile judicial system have also come to the public attention in recent years.
Proposed investigative project for the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund focused on one or more of these issues, while bringing new information into the public domain. Click here to view published and broadcast projects from the children’s issues funding round.
The migrant issues round took place from 21st January – 15th March 2013.
The Celtic Tiger years saw the population of the average Irish town transform due to an influx of immigrants from around the world. Despite the economic downturn in recent years, many of these immigrants now call Ireland their home, and have chosen to stay here. According to the 2011 Census, the number of Irish residents who were born outside the country stands at 17 per cent of the overall population.
However, Ireland’s transition to a multicultural State has been far from smooth. Migrant representative organisations have highlighted the high levels of racist incidents coming to their attention in recent years, in particular the fact that negative reactions to immigrants have risen since the onset of the recession. Meanwhile, issues such as the system of direct provision accommodation for asylum-seekers and the enforced deportations of those who fail to be granted residency have generated considerable debate. Mary Raftery wrote grapic accounts of the difficulties faced by immigrants, including the 1950s Hungarian refugees and the direct provision system.
The Mary Raftery Journalism Fund provided journalists with a chance to inform the nation of such issues, while uncovering new information that may influence how we deal with immigration and integration in this country in future years. Click here to view published and broadcast projects from the migrant issues funding round.
The mental health round took place from 24th September – 16th November 2012.
In September 2011, RTÉ broadcast ‘Behind the Walls’, a two-part documentary series that explored the history of psychiatric institutions in Ireland. The programme, which was produced and written by Mary Raftery, was aired just four months before she died. It highlighted damning evidence of the appalling conditions in Irish psychiatric institutions for several decades in the mid-20th Century.
In 2012, mental health remains a key issue for Irish society. According to data from the Central Statistics Office, the number of suicides registered in Ireland rose to 525 in 2011, a seven per cent increase from the previous year. Meanwhile, the sixth and final annual report of the Independent Monitoring Group that oversees the implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’ – the Government’s strategy on mental health services provision – found that its implementation has been “slow and inconsistent”, while noting the absence of a national mental health service directorate with authority to control resources.
In continuing to monitor the state of mental health care in Ireland, the media can draw attention to new and emerging issues and potentially influence the country’s decision-makers to bring about positive change in how we perceive and respond to mental illness. The Mary Raftery Journalism Fund provides journalists with an opportunity to delve deep into this subject matter, and to shine a light on the problems and opportunities evident in this area.
For the autumn 2012 funding round, proposed projects focused on the topic of mental health, including, but not limited to, such subjects as the running of mental health care institutions in Ireland; the breakdown of stigma; the level of transparency on mental health care expenses; the mental health of minorities in Ireland, such as asylum seekers; and appropriate access to mental health care for adults, children and young people. Click here to view published and broadcast projects from the mental health funding round.