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Renowned journalist Mary Raftery pictured in 2009 Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Redacted Lives and Noteworthy projects nominated for prestigious Mary Raftery Prize

The Prize is awarded annually to an individual or small team responsible for social affairs journalism.

PROJECTS BY THE Journal and Noteworthy have been nominated for the prestigious Mary Raftery Prize.

Shortlists have been announced for the last two years – 2022 and 2023.

The Journal’s podcast Redacted Lives, which was produced by Órla Ryan, Nicky Ryan and Sinéad O’Carroll, is nominated for the 2022 Prize.

The six-part documentary series tells the story of Ireland’s mother and baby home system, interviewing people who passed through these institutions as mothers or children about the ongoing impact this has on their lives.

The series has won a number of other awards, including a prize at the New York Radio Festivals last year.

Noteworthy’s Hands on Deck series, which exposed the ongoing exploitation of migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry, is also nominated for the 2022 Prize.

The series was written by Maria Delaney, Geela Garcia and Louise Lawless. It won the Irish Red Cross’ Humanitarian Journalism Award in 2023.

Calling Time, a Noteworthy investigation which revealed how the human rights of children of prisoners were not being fulfilled, is nominated for the 2023 Prize. The series was written by Alice Chambers and Maria Delaney.

Projects by RTÉ, the Dublin Inquirer and the Medical Independent have also been nominated. 

‘Giving a voice to people who have been silenced’

Responding to the news, Órla Ryan, creator and presenter of Redacted Lives, said: “We are deeply honoured to be shortlisted for the Mary Raftery Prize. Mary was such an incredible journalist who gave voice to the voiceless, her legacy speaks for itself.

“Redacted Lives explores the intergenerational trauma felt by so many families in Ireland due to the fact one or more members spent time in an institution.

We’d like to dedicate this nomination to everyone who trusted us with their story, none of this would be possible without them.

“We would also like to congratulate the other nominees.”

The Journal’s editor Sinéad O’Carroll said: “Projects like Redacted Lives – which give voice to vulnerable groups – need committed, thoughtful and talented journalists.

“Órla Ryan and Nicky Ryan took exceptional care with the subject matter and it makes them deserving nominees of the Mary Raftery Prize.

“These types of projects also require investment, time and the support of our readers. We are so grateful to many of our readers and listeners for contributing financially to our mission to create this calibre of work for society.”

Maria Delaney, editor of Noteworthy, stated: “It is an absolute honour that two investigations by Noteworthy have been shortlisted.

“One of our main goals as a community-led platform is to expose underreported issues and both of these projects do just that. We would like, in particular, to thank everyone who bravely spoke to us.

Mary Raftery said ‘the most important thing you can do is to give a voice to people who have been silenced’ and without those who spoke out, these investigations would not have been possible.

Alice Chambers, investigative reporter at Noteworthy, added that “the stigma that surrounds prisons is strong, with children the invisible victims of the prison system”.

“I am delighted to be shortlisted and would like to thank every family who shared their story.”

Projects from The Journal and Noteworthy won the Mary Raftery Prize in 2021, 2020 and 2019.

The Prize is awarded annually to an individual or small team responsible for social affairs journalism produced on the island of Ireland 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 2022 and 2023 winners will be announced at a ceremony in Dublin on Thursday.

The full 2022 shortlist is as follows: 

  • Redacted Lives – The Journal – Órla Ryan, Nicky Ryan and Sinead O’Carroll
  • Behind the Lines of Adult Safeguarding in the HSE – The Medical Independent – Catherine Reilly
  • Hands on Deck: Modern Slavery in the Irish fishing industry – Noteworthy – Maria Delaney, Geela Garcia and Louise Lawless

The full 2023 shortlist is as follows:

  • Blackrock Boys – RTÉ Doc on One – Liam O’Brien and Seán Mac Giolla Phádraig
  • Calling Time: Are Family Visits a Priority for the Prison Service? – Noteworthy – Alice Chambers and Maria Delaney
  • In Drimnagh Social Tenants say Their Kids are Blocked from the Playground in Their Build-to-Rent Complex – Dublin Inquirer – Laiose Neylon and Lois Kapila

The Prize consists of a medal and an award of €1,000.

The Prize is funded by a bequest from the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund and is administered by the School of Communications, Dublin City University, which appoints an independent panel of judges composed of experienced and distinguished figures from journalism and civic society.

Mary Raftery, a renowned investigative journalist, is best known for her documentaries States of Fear and Cardinal Secrets which detailed the sexual and physical abuse suffered by children in reformatories, industrial schools and similar settings.

“The most important thing you can do is to give a voice to people who have been silenced,” Raftery once said of her work.

The Prize was set up in her name after she died from cancer in 2012 at the age of 54.