Mary Raftery Prize Winner Announced
Mary Raftery Prize Winner Announced

Mary Raftery Prize Winner Announced

The winner of the Mary Raftery Prize for social affairs journalism has been announced. The Prize has been awarded to:

“Stardust” – (Sean Murray, Nicky Ryan and Christine Bohan)

In assessing the winning entry, the judges – Prof. Mary Corcoran, Maynooth University; Pat Brennan (formerly of The Sunday Tribune) and Andy Pollak (former editor of Fortnight) – described “Stardust” as “a powerful podcast, forming a compelling narrative of lost life, an inadequate response from state institutions, and a lasting sense of abandonment and injustice in a bereft working class community. Historic sources - such as the Tribunal report - were used to great effect, as were interviews from those who were in the Stardust on the ght of the fire. It is superbly crafted and a very moving account of the 1981 Stardust fire and the families’ long-drawn-out campaign to get justice”.

The Mary Raftery Prize is awarded annually to an individual or small team responsible for social affairs journalism produced on the island of Ireland in the calendar year preceding the award which, in the view of the judges, combined the rigorous analysis and commitment to social justice that characterised Mary Raftery’s journalism, and resulted in a significant impact on society. The Prize consists of a medal engraved with the winner’s name and an award of €1,000. Administered by the School of Communications, Dublin City University, the Prize is funded by a bequest from the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund and is sponsored by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (“BAI”).

Commenting on the Prize announcement, chair of the judging panel, Dr Mark O’Brien said that the quality of entries indicates a healthy public appetite for factual and research-based journalism that sheds light on injustice and on the lack of openness, transparency, fairness and equality that often characterises Irish society and its institutions. 

Commenting, Chief Executive of the BAI, Michael O’Keeffe said:

“The Mary Raftery Prize” serves as an important acknowledgement of the tremendous dedication and work of those undertaking social affairs journalism in Ireland. The BAI is delighted to continue its sponsorship of the Prize this year and we would like to commend all the nominees for their participation and extend congratulations to the winning team on their achievement.

The other shortlisted nominees for the 2019 Prize were:

“Crechés: Behind Closed Doors” – RTÉ Investigations Unit (Doireann O’Hara, Aoife Hegarty and Paul Maguire) – described by the judges as “an excellent, undercover TV investigation into wrongdoing in an important, under-reported area of childcare”.

“No Child 2020” – The Irish Times (Ruadhán Mac Cormaic, Fintan O’Toole, Kitty Holland, Conor Goodman) – described by the judges as “an admirable effort by a national newspaper to focus on the issues facing children 100 years after the first Dáil. The material was presented across a number of platforms and included a strong commitment to a social justice issue, with interesting contributions from children about the issues as experienced in their lives”.     

“The Case of Majella Moynihan” – RTÉ Documentary on One (Aoife Kelleher, Sarah Blake and Liam O’Brien) – described by the judges as “a reminder of institutional misogyny which, in this case, destroyed a Garda’s promising career and nearly her life. It gives insight into how institutions of state worked against women and have more recently worked against others such as whistle-blowers. A shocking and powerful interview exposing a heart-breaking injustice by An Garda Siochana”.

“Spotlight on Domestic Violence” – Westmeath Independent (Geraldine Grennan) – described by the judges as “having a strong research focus, very rounded reporting, not just victim-focused but also including an analysis of services”.

“Enough is Enough – No Excuses” and “Open Your Eyes to STIs” – Beat 102 103 (Michelle Heffernan) – described by the judges as ‘two exemplary educational programmes on difficult issues (sexual violence and STIs) by a local radio station”.

“A Bridge Too far” – / (Maria Delaney and Ken Foxe) – described by the judges as “raising significant issues about local government and local democracy that have not gone away”.

“Homelessness” – The Irish Times (Kitty Holland) – described by the judges as “bringing a depth of understanding on the issues surrounding poverty to her articles”.

A call for nominations for the 2020 Prize will issue in January 2021.

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