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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 2 September, 2014

Final report on Magdalene Laundries delayed to year-end

The committee chairperson Martin McAleese said that extra information has to be examined which could add “in a meaningful way” to the overall outcome.

Martin McAleese
Martin McAleese
Image: Photocall Ireland!

THE FINAL REPORT into the State’s involvement with the Magdalene Laundries is to be completed by the end of this year.

Senator Martin McAleese, who chairs the Inter-Departmental Committee set up to probe what happened in the infamous institutions between the 1920s and 1990s, has told the Minister for Justice that “excellent progress” had been made despite “considerable challenges”.

The committee was established to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalene Laundries, to clarify any State interaction and to produce a narrative detailing such interaction.

An initial report, released on 25 October last year, set out a schedule for the final report and it was hoped it would be completed by mid-2012. However, relevant records and a significant level of information and documentation continues to be identified, according to McAleese. Submissions from representative and advocacy groups are also still being received.

McAleese said that such information “has the capacity to add in a meaningful way to the overall outcome of the committee’s work” and that it would be “improper to conclude its work without examining the additional material”.

The Committee has said it intends to present a substantial Final Report as soon as possible and before the end of this year, at the latest.

Ten institutions are covered by the inquiry, a number of which are said to be cooperating fully with the process.

It is now over a year since the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) recommended an independent inquiry and redress for former residents of the Magdalene Laundries.

The inter-departmental committee was set up on foot of this recommendation. UNCAT stated it was “gravely concerned” at the failure of the State to protect girls and women who were involuntarily confined between 1922 and 1996.

An independent inquiry will be considered after the publication of the inter-departmental committee’s final report. The Government has committed to making the final report public.

Justice for Magdelenes (JFM), the survivor advocacy group, said it is “shocked and disappointed” by today’s announcement and has called on the Government to act immediately, stating that further delay is unacceptable.

The organisation said that survivors, who are mostly ageing and vulnerable, have already waited “too long” for an apology, redress and restorative justice in the form of a reparation scheme for women incarcerated.

JFM said the survivors cooperated with the committee trusting that it would deliver “in a timely fashion”. The group said its submission alone constitutes “overwhelming and irrefutable evidence” of State complicity in the abuses that were experienced at the institutions. Redacted copies of this submission will be made available to TDs and Senators.

In a statement issued this afternoon, JFM said, “Survivors’ entitlements can no longer be held hostage to the vagaries of the political system’s inability to deliver on its promises.”
Australia and the UK have both recently moved forward with official apologies to victims of forced, illegal adoptions and the migrant child scheme. Will Ireland ever do the same?  Will the all too familiar policy of ‘deny til they die’, become ‘delay til they die’?

“Three years into this campaign, 22 months after the IHRC recommendation, 15 months after the United Nation’s Committee Against Torture recommendation, by refusing to apologise and provide redress, Ireland’s government is failing some of the most vulnerable in our society. For this we should all feel shame.”

June: Senator McAleese meets with Magdalene survivors>

July: Archbishop suggests investigation into Magdalene Laundries>

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