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New fund in memory of Mary Raftery will promote investigative journalism

27 September 2012

A new fund to promote investigative journalism in Ireland and commemorate the work of campaigning journalist and NUJ member Mary Raftery has been launched.

The Mary Raftery Journalism Fund has been created by the family and friends of Mary, who died in January and – for the next year – will be supported by The One Foundation.

Speaking at the launch of the fund, Olivia O'Leary, chair of the judging panel said:" I worked with Mary for many years on RTÉ's Today Tonight programme. Until her untimely death in January, she was one of Ireland's most respected investigative journalists. Her particular focus on institutional and clerical abuse of children produced such ground-breaking programmes as States of Fear, Cardinal Secrets and Behind the Walls.  She cast a light into some of the darkest corners of Irish life and helped change public policy and public attitudes.

"Mary is remembered particularly for her broadcasting work but she was also an outstanding print journalist. She contributed a thought-provoking weekly column to The Irish Times from 2003 to 2007. The fund reflects all aspects of her work in that it is open to applications from print and broadcast media."

The fund will, in its first year, will concentrate on a number of issues that were close to Mary's heart: mental health, migrant issues and children's rights. It will offer an opportunity for journalists to carry out detailed investigations and to expose injustices.

There will be three individual funding rounds over the coming year.  Applications for the current round, under the theme of mental health, are now being accepted.  Applicants from all strands of the media in Ireland are invited to apply. Up to €40,000 will be available for allocation in each round. The maximum payable to an individual applicant in any one round will be €18,000.

All applications will be considered and awards made by a panel of independent judges: Olivia O'Leary, author Colm Tóibín, Conor Brady, former editor of The Irish Times, Dr. Mary Corcoran, professor of Sociology at NUI Maynooth and Sheila Ahern, researcher and former colleague of Mary Raftery.

Full details of the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund are available here  An information workshop for prospective applicants to the fund will take place from 11am to 1pm at the Radisson Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8 on Monday, 15th October.

Olivia O'Leary added: "Investigative journalism is an essential component of a democratic society.  I hope this fund will help journalists to undertake the sort of in-depth investigation that might not otherwise be possible. Investigative journalism takes time, as every journalist knows, and time is money."

David Waddell, who was Mary's husband, said: "This is a particularly proud occasion for me, for our son Ben, for Mary's mother Ita, her sister Iseult, brothers Iain and Adrian, and all the members of our family and our wide circle of friends.  Mary was an outstanding journalist, who always sought to give a voice to the voiceless.

"We miss her terribly. We are delighted that it has been possible to establish this Fund, which will provide not just an appropriate commemoration of her work but also access to her professional legacy.  Most importantly, it will also enable others to follow in her footsteps."

Tags: RTÉ, investigative journalism, broadcasting, mental health