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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 20 October, 2014

“Immediate State action” needed on Magdalene justice scheme

JFM Research made the call after the United Nations denounced the Catholic Church for allowing priests to rape children.

Relatives of victims of the Magdalene Laundries
Relatives of victims of the Magdalene Laundries
Image: AP Photo/Peter Morrison

THE STATE HAS been called on to begin immediate action on the Magdalene Laundries restorative justice scheme.

The call came from JFM Research as it welcomed a UN Report on the Holy See.

Today’s report from the UN watchdog for children’s rights said that the Vatican should immediately remove all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers, and turn them over to civil authorities.

Magdalenes

Today, JFM said that the Catholic church and the four religious orders that ran Magdalene Laundries in Ireland “have refused to accept unanimous survivor testimony that they were imprisoned and subjected to forced labour and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

None of the orders have offered an apology to Magdalene survivors, nor have they contributed to the compensation fund. The Catholic Church has not made any attempt to instigate an internal investigation into Magdalene abuse, nor has it held anyone accountable for what happened.

The group said that one year after the publication of the McAleese report and Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s official State apology, “survivors have still not ‘obtained’ the Redress called for by the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) in 2011″.

JFM Research said it is “gravely concerned” by “unacceptable additional delays”.

We are aware of three survivors who have died and two others who have experienced repeated hospitalisations since the Taoiseach’s apology last year.

According to the group, the Irish government recently sent “final offer” letters to some survivors.

It said that these detailed lump-sum compensation payments and including the legal waiver whereby women surrender “any right of action against the State or any public or statutory body or agency” arising out of their time in a Magdalene Laundry.

All other elements of the restorative justice scheme, such as pensions, health care, housing assistance, a memorial and a help line, are dependent on legislation and governmental discussions.

“To date, there is no definitive timeline as to when such legislation will be passed,” stated the group.

It also said that within the terms of the restorative justice scheme, the provision of health care benefits, for example, is limited to survivors living “in the State”. It describes this as discriminatory against survivors in the Irish diaspora abroad.

In response to the scathing UN report, the Vatican said today that it will protect children, but said that it believed some of the observations are an attempt to “interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of the human person and in the exercise of religious freedom”.

Read: Vatican says it will protect children – but criticises UN for ‘interfering’>

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