Tributes to Mary Raftery

Connie Roberts, 1st May 2014:

Connie Roberts sent in her poem, ‘Banister’ to us, which was inspired by Mary’s remembrance of climbing the stairs as a young child and falling into her father’s open arms.



i.m. Mary Raftery


Oh, give me a little girl

happy to rise to the occasion


and a smiling father

who waits with open arms


at the bottom of the stairs

to catch, to catch, to catch her,


and I’ll give you a woman,

solid as a granite banister,


with the nerve to change a nation.



The Irish Times, 14th January, 2012:
“There’s a good deal of old guff handed out to young journalists in the guise of advice to guide them in their careers. The best of it emphasises getting the facts right, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, and possibly making a difference if you work hard and get lucky.

“Mary Raftery, a journalist best known for her television work, had succeeded on all those counts when she died in Dublin aged 54 earlier this week.” Read more

Irish Independent, 14th January, 2012:
“Her work had such a devastating impact in Irish society. Fearless, relentless, tireless: three words synonymous with a maverick journalist who did more than anyone else in her profession to cast light on the darkest chapter in modern Irish history.” Read more

The New York Times, 12th January, 2012
“Ms. Raftery uncovered the child abuse as a producer for Ireland’s national broadcasting service, RTÉ , and brought it to national attention in ‘States of Fear’, a three-part documentary series broadcast in April and May 1999. In examining the state child-care system in Ireland, the series brought to light a Dickensian network of reformatories and residential schools for poor, neglected and abandoned children known as industrial schools.” Read more

The Independent (London), 23rd January, 2012
“She was no ordinary journalist, but rather a figure who brought about a sea-change in attitudes, shattering the age-old tradition of deference to the Catholic Church. As such, she was probably the most influential campaigning Irish journalist of the last half-century.” Read more

The Daily Telegraph, 4th March, 2012:
“Mary Raftery, who has died of cancer aged 54, was a campaigning Irish journalist whose exposure of the abuse meted out to children in Church-run institutions in Ireland, and the ensuing cover-up, prompted a bout of national soul searching.” Read more

Individual Tributes

Eamon Gilmore TD, Tánaiste and Leader of the Labour Party
“This country owes a huge debt of gratitude to Mary for her work, including the acclaimed documentary series ‘States of Fear’ in 1999 and ‘Cardinal Secrets’ in 2002, both of which lifted the lid on physical and sexual abuse that had been suffered by children over decades at the hands of the State and church functionaries.”

Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
“Mary Raftery’s early death removes a powerful force from media. In print and in television, she led on the issue of clerical child sexual abuse, and ground-breaking documentaries like ‘Cardinal Secrets’ brought home to viewers the squalid prevalence of child sexual abuse while emphasising the life-long damage it could deliver to those abused.”

Micheál Martin TD, Leader of Fianna Fáil
“Mary was a groundbreaking, inspirational journalist who made a major contribution to Irish public life. Through her work, Mary raised the level of public debate in this country and touched many lives.”

Noel Curran, Director General of RTÉ
“Mary Raftery’s 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. She has left an important legacy for Irish society, particularly for some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Dr. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
“The work of Mary Raftery 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.”

Abuse victim Andrew Madden, author of ‘Altar Boy: A Story of Life After Abuse’
“Without Mary’s determination, so much of what we know about our collective past would still remain hidden.”

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International in Ireland.
“Where others might have been intimidated by the barriers of a system and a society determined to keep the truth hidden, Mary seemed to know no fear.”