“Strewn With Uncontroverted Evidence”



[Former Senator Martin McAleese with his report into the magdalene laundries in
February last year]

In today’s Irish Independent, Maeve O’Rourke, a barrister and member of the Justice for Magdalenes Research advisory committee, calls for the magdalene laundries to be included in the Commission of Investigation into mother and baby homes – echoing the call from the Irish Human Rights Commission and other support and campaign groups.

She explains why former Senator McAleese’s investigation was inadequate and how the Government’s use of the report’s conclusions in correspondence with the United Nations Committee Against Torture – which has made repeated calls for follow-up investigations into the laundries since the McAleese Report – is ‘shocking’.

She writes:

Some 793 pages of testimony, which Justice for Magdalenes transcribed and submitted (and offered to have sworn) alleging systematic abuse were not mentioned in the report.

The Committee did not set itself a framework of potential human rights violations and evaluate the evidence received against it.

It did not find whether or not any human rights violations occurred. It did not have the mandate.

Perhaps the most shocking thing to happen as a result of this gap in the terms of reference and powers is the following assertion by the Government in its August 2013 letter to the UN Committee against Torture: “No factual evidence to support allegations of systematic torture or ill treatment of a criminal nature in these institutions was found … in light of facts uncovered by the McAleese Committee and in the absence of any credible evidence of systematic torture or criminal abuse being committed in the Magdalene Laundries, the Irish Government does not propose to set up a specific Magdalene inquiry body.”

Anyone who reads the McAleese Report will see that it is strewn with uncontroverted evidence of young girls and women being imprisoned, working long hours, receiving no wages, not knowing why they were there, not knowing when they would get out.

This is grave human rights abuse.

It’s time we learnt the truth about Magdalene Laundries (Maeve, O’Rourke, Irish Independent)

Commission of Investigation must be broad in scope, comply with the State’s human rights and equality obligations and offers effective remedies and redress (Irish Human Rights Commission)

Previously: The Magdalene Report: A Conclusion

The McAleese Report: ‘Incomplete And Not Independent’

He Did The State Some Service