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How many died in Magdalene laundries? Survivors at odds with Government on the figures

Justice for Magdalenes is preparing a critique on the McAleese report into the Magdalene laundries.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE JUSTICE FOR Magdalenes Research (JFMR) group have said they “are not going to stop what [they're] doing” as they prepare to release a critique of the McAleese Report.

The government-appointed report was released in November 2013 and was heavily criticised by the JFMR survivors group.

How many survivors?

The JFMR are currently preparing a full critique of Martin McAleese’s report, and intends on issuing the first tranche on 19 February, the anniversary of the Government’s apology to Magdalene survivors.

The group said it has identified 1,663 people who died in Magdalene laundries, which is almost twice the McAleese report’s figure of 879, the Irish Examiner reports.

“I suppose we’ve first of all realised that pretty much everything that we submitted [to the committee putting together the McAleese report], certainly on deaths, was ignored,” claimed a spokesperson for JFMR.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the spokesperson said that “adding to what we already submitted to McAleese, what we’ve been finding is our research results are completely different to what McAleese alleges in terms of length of stay and the lived experience of the women”.

When asked about the discrepancy, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that:

The Justice for Magdalene research seems to go back to the 19th century and continue after the Magdalene laundries closed, whereas the McAleese commission was only tasked with looking at figures from 1922 to the closure of Magdalene laundries.

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JFMR have access to the late Mary Raftery’s archive, and have used information from that as part of their critique.

“I think the Government wants to put this issue to bed,” said the spokesperson. “I think it would be far easier if the issue would just go away.”

We’re certainly not going to stop what we’re doing. These women deserve to be honoured and remembered. It has always been about the dead as much as the living.

They have also called for the laundries to be included in the recently-announced commission for investigation into the mother-and-baby homes, and are hoping that the forthcoming report would encourage the Government to “reconsider its position on that”.

Read: “Huge traffic” between Magdalene laundries and mother-and-baby homes>

Read: Magdalene women share nearly €9m in compensation – but still waiting on healthcare>

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