Ms Raftery was best known for her ‘States of Fear’ documentary series, which revealed the extent of physical and sexual abuse suffered by children in Irish industrial schools and residential institutions.
It led to the creation of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse.
In 2002, her ‘Cardinal Secrets’ programme for RTÉ’s Prime Time led to the setting up of the Murphy Commission of Investigation into clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.
So did survivors of abuse.
Andrew Madden, the former altar boy abused by a senior Dublin cleric, said Ms Raftery had understood that the Church’s concealment of child sexual abuse was systemic, but that it could best be exposed by helping survivors to share personal experiences.
He said that her work had provided a way for some survivors to do that.
The organisation Survivors of Child Abuse said all survivors will forever remember her enormous contribution to revealing historical abuse in the country’s enclosed institutions.
Its spokesman, John Kelly, said each survivor owed a great deal to her steadfast courage that brought hope where there was despair and vindication when it was sorely needed. He said their hearts and prayers were with her family.
So did politicians.
Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín O Caoláin said she had given a voice to the voiceless, including victims of abuse and, more recently, to those who suffered in psychiatric institutions. He said she had forced governments to act.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald said Ms Raftery had played an essential role in the alerting the country to its child protection duties.
She said her ground-breaking documentaries such as “Cardinal Secrets” brought home to viewers the squalid prevalence of child sexual abuse while emphasizing the life-long damage it could inflict on those abused.
So did journalists.
Seamus Dooley, Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said Ms Raftery ”will be mourned by all who knew and respected her as a fearless journalist”.
He said she was someone “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”.
The Irish Times Editor Kevin O’Sullivan said Ms Raftery’s journalism ”fearlessly exposed the gross failures of Church and State in looking after some of the most vulnerable and damaged of people in Irish society”.
He said her work lifted ”so many layers of institutional secrecy”.
Ireland needed her.