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Dublin: 4 °C Friday 17 January, 2020

Magdalene survivors call for investigation of more schools

A survivors’ group has said two more schools were used as laundries where young girls were forced to work.

A Magdalene laundry survivor at a protest in Dublin last year
A Magdalene laundry survivor at a protest in Dublin last year
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Updated, 12.26pm

A GROUP REPRESENTING survivors of the notorious Magdalene laundries has called for several more schools to be included in a Government probe of the institutions.

Magdalene Survivors Together has said that two institutions not covered by the investigation – one in Dublin and one in Wexford – were previously used as laundries. The group said in a statement:

It is our firm belief that these institutions were used under false pretences to admit girls as young as 11 years of age to work in laundries and not attend school as is being suggested by the relevant religious orders.

The group was responding to the Interim Progress Report of the inter-departmental committee investigating State involvement in the Magdalene laundries, which was released yesterday. The committee is chaired by Senator Martin McAleese.

The document sets out the schedule for the final report into the laundries, which it’s hoped will be completed by the middle of next year. Ten institutions will be covered by the probe.

Another survivors’ group, Justice for Magdalenes, also welcomed the report. However it said that the inquiry should not be allowed to hold up payments to former laundry residents, many of whom are now elderly.

Dr James Smith, a JFM committee member, said: “Survivors should not be asked to wait for the completion of the Committee’s work before the government address the issue of pensions or lost wages [...] Many of the women are ageing and elderly and deserve action on these fronts immediately. And they deserve an immediate apology.”

The interim report states that the four religious orders whose institutions are being investigated – the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, the Religious Sisters of Charity, and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd – have offered their full assistance.

Magdalene Survivors Together welcomed this development, but said all the information provided by the orders should be made public. The group also said that they are “none the wiser” on what will be done with the report when it is submitted to the Government.

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Michael Freeman

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