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Wednesday 21 March 2018

Church's tribute to journalist who exposed sex abuse

Mark Hilliard

ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin led yesterday's tributes to journalist Mary Raftery, who lost her battle to cancer at the age of 54.

Ms Raftery exposed child abuse in state- and church-run institutions through her two most famous documentaries, 'States of Fear' in 1999 and 'Cardinal Secrets' in 2002.

"Bringing the truth out is always a positive thing even though it may be a painful truth," Archbishop Martin said.

"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."

RTE was also quick to pay respects to their former employee.

"Mary Raftery's journalism was defined by determination and fearlessness," said director general Noel Curran.

"She has left an important legacy for Irish society, particularly for some of our most vulnerable citizens."

Abuse survivor Andrew Madden described how Ms Raftery had been an instrumental force in helping victims find a voice after years of silence.

"Mary understood that the Catholic Church's concealment of the sexual abuse of children was systemic, but that it could best be exposed by helping survivors share personal experience and through her work provided a way for some of us to do that," he said.

"The Ryan and Murphy reports (which were commissioned in the wake of her investigations) are now part of the public record of this country and will remain there and continue to inform us for many years."

The National Union of Journalists noted the loss to the industry, praising the mother-of-one as a fearless member of the profession.

"Mary's death, following an illness borne with characteristic courage, will be mourned by all who knew and respected her as a fearless journalist who was always willing to ask awkward questions, to seek out uncomfortable facts and to shine a light in the darkest corners of Irish society," said Irish secretary Seamus Dooley.

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland also joined in the tributes. Chairwoman Miriam Duffy said: "Through her tenacity, integrity and courage, (she) has made an extraordinary contribution to changing Ireland for the better.

"It is because of her work that survivors in Ireland today live in a community more open, understanding and accepting of survivors and increasingly robust in challenging the tolerance of abuse."

There was also political reflection led by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, who said that she had made an outstanding contribution to the area of human rights and justice.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that she had assisted the country in recognising the importance of its duties toward child protection.

A funeral ceremony for Ms Raftery will take place at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin, at 11am tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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