Bad Habits Die Hard


McAleese McAleeseExec

Former Senator Martin McAleese, top, in his report on the State involvement with the Magdalene Laundries, concluded that the four orders involved in the laundries he investigated – the Mercy Sisters, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Sisters of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters – were not profitable, as seen in the report’s executive summary above.

Following this report, Mr Justice John Quirke called for a redress scheme to be organised for the survivors.

However, this morning, the Irish Times reports the aforementioned religious orders are refusing to pay, or even contribute, to what’s expected to amount to a €58million scheme.

It is understood the McAleese Report’s conclusion that they were unprofitable strengthens their case in this regard.


In a critique of the McAleese Report, law lecturer Máiréad Enright, wrote:

“Much has been made of the Report’s findings that the laundries, despite large incomes and an unpaid workforce, did not turn significant profits. But, even though the Committee was given full access to Orders’ financial records, this part of the Report consists in very broad statements of accounts (often summaries of income and expenditure over long periods of time) coupled with extracts from statements of  firms of accountants who worked for the Laundries. Where the running costs that eat up the profits of the Laundries are mentioned, they are not detailed. Details of per person amounts spent on maintaining the residents (clothing, food etc) are not provided. No real details are provided of the purposes – e.g. capital expenditure – to which the, perhaps small, profits generated by the Laundries were put. Senator John Crown has noted that the Committee did not conduct any detailed forensic analysis of the financial statements included in the Reports. We need to watch carefully for moments in which the Laundries might be re-spun as charitable enterprises rather than as places of industry and employment.”


In addition Conor Ryan, investigative correspondent with the Irish Examiner, reported two years ago:

“Land surrounding a former mass grave at the largest Magdalene Laundry was quietly sold by the order of nuns who ran it for €61.8 million during the boom.

“The revelation emerged as representatives of the women imprisoned in the laundries met with Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

“They discussed the new inquiry and their case for an apology, compensation and a pension for the women involved.

“The Justice For Magdalenes group (JFM) said the €296m made in property deals during the boom by the four orders who ran the laundries must form part of the conversation on redress. “


Given that the redress scheme largely involves payments based on the length of time a survivor spent at a laundry, it is troubling that Ms Enright has also noted that while the McAleese Report suggests 61% of women admitted to the laundries were there for less than a year, the Magdalene women who gave evidence to Justice Quirke’s team gave testimony indicating that this figure is closer to 9%.

How can the State  recompense women based on a potentially flawed report?

What’s Wrong with the Magdalenes Redress Scheme? (Mairéad Enright, Human Rights In Ireland)

Critiquing the McAleese Report (Mairéad Enright, Human Rights In Ireland)

Previously: A Limerick A Day

The McAleese Report: “Incomplete And Not Independent”

Omission To Prey

Lost In The Wash

The Magdalene Report: A Conclusion

43 thoughts on “Bad Habits Die Hard

      1. curmudgeon

        Great contribution. Sen Ronan Mullen again impeding the wishes of nearly everyone on all sides of the house and of course the public. Some question his sanity, but its clear to me he’s simply on their payroll, and considering his political position and consistent steadfast defense of the orders, he’s proved himself value for money. My takeaway is that this type of shill is obviously unelectable democratically and is the most obvious reason for abolishing the Seanad.

    1. Sgt. Bilko

      Exactly. Lets cut to the chase, declare these orders unlawful organisations under section 18 of the OATSA, and order their suppression under section 19.

      1. cluster

        There are few govts. in the western world which would be brave enough to declare the RCC or any part of it a criminal organisation.

        I would be surprised if the Irish govt., with a population which is still overwhelmingly Catholic will be more brave than everywhere else.

        Even if a la carte Catholics – it looks as if the majority of the parents who replied to Ruairi Quinn’s survey on primary schools wanted to keep the Catholic ethos. Baffling.

        1. Buzz

          Calling in the Criminal Assets Bureau is not a ‘declaration of criminality’. They investigate the provenance of assets.

  1. Am I still on This Island

    1. For all Enda’s fancy words in the Daíl his actions fall far short of his empty words, at this stage CAB should be called in as between this and the failure of the religious orders to contribute what they owe to the redress scheme is becoming beyond a sickening joke. If this Government (Or any party) had balls they would be calling for the state to seize church assets, including schools and hospitals to pay for the outstanding Debts.
    Perhaps the Archbishop would like to vacate his large palace in Drumcondra, or the Apostolic Nuncio residence on the Navan road, could be given up.

  2. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

    I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that one of these orders built a cathedral out of the profits from their laundries.
    Subsistence me arse.

    1. ScaryLady

      Certainly, I often heard that the Cathedral in Galway was built with profits from Magdalen Laundries. Hearsay I know but I’d say that there has been plenty of time to cover the money trail in the meantime.

  3. aeddub

    Posts like this should come with a disclaimer: Warning – reading the following may result in rage, bad temper and a particular feeling of helplessness tinged with a desire to go and smash a dustbin though a window.

    1. Pete Fitz

      Make sure you throw it through a Convent window. Christ now I feel like bussing some loyalist rioters down to Drumcondra and telling them to burn Vatican flags all they want.

    1. Sido

      ……. but it was the trip to Rome, straight after he handed in the report – wot did it ?

      1. ABM

        That his wife was studying there at the time had absolutely nothing to do with your grand conspiracy?

        1. Sido

          @ ABM – That his wife was studying Canon Law presumably under the tutelage of the Roman Catholic Church also helps to confirm my suspicions.

          Here’s an odd suggestion for you – If you are presenting an “Independent Report” – It really helps if you bona fides are at arms length.

  4. Penny ForDaBabby

    I’m glad to see they’re adhering to their Christian values. Money is the root of all evil, so they’re actually saving these poor sinners by not giving them the dosh.
    I’m fairly sure that the uncensored version of the Bible had Jesus throwing the money lenders out of the temple, then pocketing all their shekels.
    Maybe someone could raise it with the Pope during leader’s question time in the Vatican and ask him to condemn the mickey-dodging hoors. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  5. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

    Screw it. Bring in the German style tax on belonging to a religion. The money for RCC organizations is used in redress and compensation schemes before the tax goes towards them.
    Let’s see how that affects the next census.

  6. Karl

    Anyone that got married in the Catholic Church, had their kid Christened just to get it into the local school is complicit in the Church’s obfuscation and corruption. You have voted support with your feet and are counted in their numbers. That money you gave the priest for your wedding is supporting the institution. Nothing will change as long as there are weak-willed, by-proxy supporters of the Church. If you really care about the rampant criminality, abuse and institutional cover-ups you’d have the balls to make a stand and forgo your fancy setting for your wedding.

    1. Operatick

      Agreed Karl. I got married in a registry office and neither of my kids are christened. Think it’s ridiculous the numbers of people that ‘play the game’ of having chistenings etc in churches when they have no intention of continuing with the rest of all that involvement in the church entails. If people don’t stop this nonsense, how will it ever change?

      I recently attended a christening, and the priest became quite stroppy about the fact that nobody seemed to have a clue what the responses were. Sure, how would they know, they hardly ever go to church! Although he had a point – if you’re going to engage in something so serious as introducing your child into the church , shouldn’t you know a little about it – but his attitude did his cause no favours.

      1. nellyb

        Are you kidding? I watched Fintan o’Toolbox quizzing two civilian self-styled “preachers” on the street:neither muppet knew bible the passages Fintan was addressing. They didn’t know their own book!
        Logic and reason are non-existent for dogmatic catholics. They come up with sh&te that toddlers would be embarrassed of.
        Cul de sac of thinking that is.

    2. justanotherstatistic

      Agree completely Karl. I am dead set against getting married in a church. it has upset the grandparents a bit but I feel like it would taint the day giving this shower of shisters my tacit approval for the sake of a venue. And following that – secular schools all the way!

    3. Jockstrap

      Have to agree.

      Lots of people want the aesthetic of the church wedding with all the airs and graces that go along with it.

      It’s snobbery and vanity and extremely shallow.

  7. fosull

    The amount they made or didn’t make is a red herring.

    The fact that they treated countless people appalingly in direct contravention of their basic human rights means they compensate them today.

    With the money they have today.

    Which is plenty, by all accounts.

    (Why is this even up for discussion and why do they feel the are allowed refuse?)

  8. OMF

    It’s pretty clear that the Government’s intention has to get the Laundries off the hook from day one. It’s easy to pin the blame for a whitewashing report on McAleese, but the truth is he is only one man in a bigger machine. The purpose of the machine is to enrich the kinds of criminals run the institutions of this country at the expense of the rest of us, and to protect them from the consequences of their own actions.

  9. Tisha Hyde

    “These laundries were private businesses, run by those orders, which benefited from the unpaid labour of the women committed to them,” he said.

    1. Mark

      Would they have paid tax?

      Can you be a private business and a charity at the same time ?

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