Born December 21 1957, died January 10 2012
Mary Raftery was not the first to reveal that children had been abused in Ireland’s so-called industrial schools (state-financed reformatories for poor, neglected and abandonned children, which housed about 30,000 young people between the 1930s and 1990s), but previous reports had suggested the existence only of isolated incidents.
With her documentary States of Fear, however, Mary Raftery exposed a horrifying litany of torment – emotional, physical and sexual – suffered by the children at these schools, and made the case that abuse had been widespread, systematic and covered up by both Church and state authorities.
The programme was aired in three parts in 1999 on Ireland’s national broadcaster RTE and the public outcry which followed prompted the government of Bertie Ahern to issue a public apology to victims for the state’s failure to come to their rescue. He set up what became known as the Ryan Commission, which, after a 10-year investigation, issued a devastating report in 2009 confirming Mary Raftery’s key findings.
The Ryan report sparked a period of agonised debate which touched on the unholy alliance between Catholic Church and Irish State forged under Eamon de Valera. In a recent article in The Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole observed that because of Mary Raftery ‘the Catholic hierarchy will never recover the authority it lost’ in Ireland after her exposé...
More in The Telegraph, London: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/tv-radio-obituaries/9122448/Mary-Raftery.html
Mary Raftery obituary in The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/13/world/europe/mary-raftery-54-dies-documented-child-abuse-in-ireland.html?_r=1
Mary Raftery obituary in The Irish Times: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/0110/breaking10.html