News at DCU
DCU launches Mary Raftery Prize for Social Affairs Journalism
David Waddell and Professor Brian MacCraith at the Mary Raftery -States of Fear Exhibition, DCU Library, April 2019

DCU launches Mary Raftery Prize for Social Affairs Journalism

Dublin City University is pleased to announce the call for nominations for a new journalism industry award – The Mary Raftery Prize.

It will be awarded annually to an individual or small team responsible for journalistic work produced on the island of Ireland which, in the view of the judges, combines the rigorous analysis and commitment to social justice which characterised Mary Raftery’s journalism and resulted in a significant impact on society.

The Prize will be awarded for the first time in spring 2020 for social affairs journalism that was produced in 2019 and is named in memory of the late Mary Raftery – the groundbreaking journalist whose work resulted in the establishment of government Commissions of Inquiry into the industrial school system and the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.

Over the course of her career, Raftery tackled a range of social affairs issues from planning to property speculation, the drugs trade and environmental pollution.

In 1985 she was named as the “Woman Journalist of the Year” for her documentary on the mistreatment of patients in Irish psychiatric hospitals.

The prize, which consists of a medal engraved with the winner’s name and an award of €1,000, is funded by a bequest from the estate of Mary Raftery and is sponsored by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

It is administered by the DCU’s School of Communications, which will appoint an independent panel of judges composed of experienced figures from journalism and civic society who will act independently of any organisation with which they may be affiliated.

The call for nominations is now open.

Nominated work may be produced in any medium including but not limited to print, online, broadcast or film, or may use more than one medium.

Submissions may consist of one or more articles, broadcasts, etc. but must have been published, broadcast or shown publicly in Ireland in the calendar year of January to December 2019.

Media organisations (broadcasters must be free-to-air on the island of Ireland) and production companies are entitled to submit work. In addition, the judging panel may call in for consideration, work which has not been submitted.

The deadline for nominations is Friday 21st February 2020 with the winner being announced at a prize-giving ceremony on Thursday 26th March 2020.

Commenting on the launch of the Mary Raftery Prize for Social Affairs Journalism, the President of Dublin City University Professor Brian MacCraith said:

“DCU hopes this initiative will encourage and support the important work of journalists who shine a spotlight on the darker and often forgotten corners of our society. The prize is a fitting honour for a woman who did just that, with her landmark documentary series States of Fear and other groundbreaking work.

Mary demonstrated that quality investigative journalism can have a profound impact on the way we see the world, as well as providing the impetus for social progress”.

Noting the importance of social affairs journalism BAI Chief Executive Michael O’Keeffe said:

“Quality, rigorous journalism is vital for informed public debate about the issues that matter and impact most on people’s lives. Now, more than ever, we need quality journalism to counteract the increased spread of disinformation, which is so harmful to our public discourse.

The BAI is proud to support the Mary Raftery Prize, which recognises excellence in social affairs journalism and we wish all the nominees every success”.

Also commenting on the prize, the former chair of the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund, David Waddell, stated that:

“The family and friends of Mary Raftery look forward to working with DCU and the BAI to continue outreach and activities that will advocate for, and support, quality, social affairs journalism”.


Media organisations wishing to receive a link to the online nomination form please email Mark O'Brien on 

Pictured: David Waddell and Professor Brian MacCraith at the Mary Raftery -States of Fear Exhibition, DCU Library, April 2019