Tag Archives: Magdalene Laundries

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From top: A Magdalene Laundry in the 1950s; Nuala Ní Mhuircheartaigh (Department of Foreign Affairs), adviser to Martin McAleese in his role investigating State involvement with the Magdalene Laundries; Enda kenny during the leaders’ debate on Tuesday night

Also known as Opus Dei.

On Tuesday night, towards the end of the Prime Time Leaders’ Debate on RTÉ, presenter Miriam O’Callaghan asked the leaders what decision they regretted the most in their public life – political or otherwise.

When it came to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the Fine Gael leader said:

“Well I regret a number but I would say that, maybe, to have been able to do things earlier but then that didn’t come my way. Like, that’s why I was happy to speak out about the sexual abuse in Cloyne, that’s why I was happy to do, to be moved by the tears of the Magdalene women, that’s why I was happy to deal with the people in Priory Hall, and that’s why I think it was important to be able to join the, join with the many hundreds of thousands who were able to provide freedom and relief for so many people in the marriage equality referendum. I had regrets about not being able to do things about those earlier but, when its come my way, we’ve been happy to work with others in delivering on that responsibility.”

Further to this.

Oireachtas Retort has dedicated their Election Day post to the survivors of the Magdalene laundries and symphysiotomy with pieces written by Claire McGettrick, of Justice For Magdalenes, and Marie O’Connor, of Survivors of Symphysiotomy.

Oireachtas Retort writes:

You will find no clearer example of how brute uncaring force, casually demeaning people over decades is hardwired into the DNA of this state.

The cold indignity visited upon these women is multi-layered. The complicity and indifference that fuelled these crimes is not confined to the past but persists in the decisions we make in the ballot box today.”

In the post, Ms McGettrick reminds readers that, as the UN found the McAleese Report’s investigation to be neither prompt, independent nor thorough, it called for the Irish government to set up an independent inquiry.

But the government rejected the UN’s claim stating that because McAleese didn’t find evidence to “support allegations of systematic torture or ill treatment of a criminal nature in these institutions”, there would be no independent inquiry.

Further to this, Ms McGettrick writes:

“Are we to believe that the Taoiseach’s tearful apology [on February 19, 2013] was as a result of a ‘road to Damascus’ moment, or was it a political decision, designed to make the Magdalene problem go away? The experiences of survivors in contact with our organisation since the apology would suggest that unfortunately, it was the latter.”

“In June 2013, Mr Justice Quirke published The Magdalen Commission Report and while the financial element of the ex gratia scheme fell far short of what survivors deserve, we nonetheless welcomed it, in recognition of the other recommended benefits and services, particularly the establishment of a Dedicated Unit and the provision of an enhanced medical card which would provide access to ‘the full range of services currently enjoyed’ by HAA Card holders. We were pleased when the government announced that it would accept all of Judge Quirke’s recommendations.”

“...It is now three years since the apology, and the trust of Magdalene survivors has been seriously undermined, as the government has tried to cut corner after corner on its implementation of the ex gratia scheme. Survivors are still awaiting the establishment of a Dedicated Unit, a measure that should have been put in place immediately and not after the women have had to navigate the Ex Gratia Scheme alone. Some survivors have difficulty in proving lengths of stay because of the religious orders’ poor record keeping, yet incredibly, the government affords greater weight to the religious orders’ contentions than survivor testimony.”

“The healthcare provisions as outlined in the RWRCI Guide do not provide Magdalene survivors with the same range of drugs and services made available to HAA cardholders.”

“…Earlier this week a vulnerable Magdalene survivor phoned to say she had spent 17 hours on a drip in a chair in a crowded A&E. This same woman shed tears of happiness in the Dáil on the night of the apology. She phoned me the next day, concerned about the Taoiseach – ‘the poor man was very upset’ she said. Three years later however, she feels completely hoodwinked.”

She read Appendix G of Judge Quirke’s report and signed away her right to sue the State based on the legitimate expectation that she would receive a comprehensive healthcare suite. She certainly expected better than 17 hours in A&E.”

Election Day 2016 (Oireachtas Retort)

Previously: Three Years Ago Today


The Magdalene Report: A Conclusion

He Did The State Some Service

Watch the debate in full here

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Citywest Hotel Dublin at the weekend

“Easter 1916 was a cold and passionate dawn, for a new Ireland. In 100 years we have built on the new day the Rising leaders gave us. We founded a new state, we declared a Republic, we joined the European Union. At long last, we put our children first and respected the Magdelene women. We made marriage equal. It is that sense of generosity, compassion, strength, and imagination that will be the making of us as a people, a nation.”

Enda Kenny speaking at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis at the weekend.

In response, Claire McGettrick, co-founder of the Justice For Magdalene Research project tweeted:

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In addition, readers may wish to recall a post from 2014, based on a BBC report about then 83-year-old Mary Merritt who spent 14 years in the High Park magdalene laundry in Drumcondra, Dublin.

It was reported that Ms Merritt told former Senator Martin McAleese – author of the McAleese Report into the magdalene laundries – about how, one day, she broke a window and ran away from the laundry. She went to a priest and begged for help. The priest raped her before giving her sixpence. The gardaí then brought her back to the laundry. Ms Merritt became pregnant as a result of the rape. Her daughter, Carmel, was taken by the nuns and put up for adoption. Ms Merritt didn’t see her daughter again for another 40 years.

Ms Merritt’s testimony of her rape was not included in the McAleese Report.

September 2015: Justice for Magdalenes Research Submissions to UN Human Rights Committee and Committee on the Elimnation of Discrimination Against Women (JFM)

Previously: The Magdalene Report: A Conclusion

‘Apologise To Me Before I Die’

Waiver Away


Read Enda Kenny’s speech in full here

Sam Boal/Rollingnews


Further to the exclusion of the magdalene laundries from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

Justice for Magdalenes writes:

“As JFMR has previously pointed out to Minister Reilly, the McAleese inquiry did not investigate or make findings about abuse or lines of responsibility for abuse in the Magdalene Laundries. Furthermore, the McAleese Report does not contain a single word from the 796 pages of testimony submitted by JFM and it failed to adequately examine issues relating to deaths and burials. Serious doubt has been cast on the accuracy of the McAleese Report’s assertions regarding duration of stay.

The McAleese Committee’s terms of reference were limited to investigating State involvement with the Laundries only. We believe that it is partly because of the gaps in the McAleese Committee’s terms of reference that all religious orders involved still refuse to apologise or provide redress to the women who spent time in Magdalene Laundries.

The Magdalene Laundries abuse must be investigated. The women who are still alive, their families and the families of those who have died, have a right to the truth.

JFMR does note that the Commission of Inquiry ‘can exercise discretion in relation to the scope and intensity of the investigation’. JFMR will avail of the opportunities presented to engage with the Inquiry to present relevant evidence it has gathered through archival research and gathering of oral histories, evidence ignored by the McAleese inquiry.”

JFM Research deeply disappointed at exclusion of Magdalene Laundries from Inquiry (January 9, 2015)

Previously: The Magdalene Report: A Conclusion

The Mother And Child Tribunal

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Mary Merritt, who spent 14 years in the High Park magdalene laundry in Drumcondra, Dublin, with her daughter Carmel, top – whom she found 40 years after Carmel was born – on BBC’s Newsnight, above, last night

Last night, on BBC’s Newsnight, journalist Sue Lloyd Roberts did a 15-minute report on the magdalene laundries.

During her segment, she spoke to gravedigger Barney Curran, who was hired by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity nuns to dig up the remains of what the nuns then believed were 133 magdalene laundry workers at the High Park Laundry in Drumcondra, Dublin, in the early 1990s. At the time, the nuns were selling the land to developers.

Mr Curran found the remains of 22 more workers. Mr Curran’s appearance on Newsnight last night was his first ever television interview.

Ms Lloyd Roberts also spoke with Mary Merritt, 83, who was born in a mother and baby home and sent to an orphanage. One day she stole an apple from an orchard because she was so hungry. After this she was sent to High Park laundry where she remained for 14 years. While there, she was tasked with laying out the women who died at the laundry.

In the BBC report, Ms Lloyd Robert reported that Ms Merritt told former Senator Martin McAleese – author of the McAleese Report – how, one day, she broke a window and ran away from the laundry. She went to a priest and begged for help. The priest raped her before giving her sixpence. The gardaí then brought her back to the laundry. Ms Merritt became pregnant as a result of the rape. Her daughter, Carmel, was taken by the nuns and put up for adoption. For 40 years, Ms Merritt only had a photo of her daughter.

Ms Merritt’s testimony of her rape is not included in the McAleese Report.

Ms Merritt and Ms Lloyd Roberts went to visit the headquarters of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity where Ms Merritt pleaded for an apology but didn’t receive one.

During the report, Ms Lloyd Roberts also interviewed Tánaiste Joan Burton. Mr McAleese turned down her request for an interview.

From the report:

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Gravedigger Barney Curran:

“The nuns were trying to sell the place there and it was big money like so they didn’t want anyone to know what was going on, it was all hush-hush. We were supposed to tell no-one about it.”

“We kept digging and digging until we dug out the whole lot and we ended up with 22 more than they knew were there…they didn’t even know they were there.”

“[We also found] a lot of plaster of paris which was on their wrist and in their arms, their legs, their feet, their ankles, there were broken arms and broken legs, as far as, it seemed to me like. The women were too small and too frail for that kind of work.”

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Ms Merritt and Ms Lloyd Roberts at the gates of the headquarters of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity:

Lloyd Roberts: “Good morning, my name is Sue Lloyd Roberts, I’m here from the BBC and this is Mary Merritt, a former magdalene laundry worker.”

Unidentified representative of the order: “You’ve already sent in a request and I think you’ve got your answer to that request.”

Lloyd Roberts: “No, we’ve been refused an interview but we have some very important questions to ask.”

Merritt: “All I wanted, please, somebody to give me an apology for what happened to me. That’s all I wanted.”


Merritt: “I want somebody to apologise to me, the nuns, the church, the priests, just somebody to apologise to me before I die.”

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Ms Lloyd Roberts’ interview with Joan Burton:

Lloyd Roberts: “When I speak to these women what they want is the truth to be told.”

Joan Burton: “Well, we now have underway the process of preparing a full judicial report by a very experienced judge who has been involved in a  number…”

Lloyd Roberts: “So you admit the McAleese inquiry was less than thorough?”

Burton: “Well, the McAleese inquiry was an inquiry at a point in time. I think that the critical thing that it achieved was recognition for what women had experienced and what women had gone through.”

Lloyd Roberts: “But the women themselves say it didn’t, for example, the glossing over the abuse, the duration of stay?”

Burton: “Well, I do know that what is important for a lot of the women is that they would receive a redress payment.”

Readers may recall how Mary Merritt was on Prime Time on February 5, 2013 – about two weeks before Taoiseach Enda Kenny issued a State apology to the magdalene women – when she begged for an apology from the Labour TD Kathleen Lynch, who was in the studio that night.

Ms Merritt didn’t get an apology then either.

Demanding justice for women and children abused by Irish nuns (Sue Lloyd Roberts, BBC)

Previously: The Magdalene Report: A Conclusion

Related: RTÉ Prime Time – Magdalene Laundry Apology (19/2/13)

Thanks Adoption Rights Now

Frances Fitzgerald’s opening address to the UN Human Rights Committee

Earlier: Meanwhile, in Geneva


[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




European Election candidate Ronan Mullen tweets his concern for the abducted Nigerian girls while questioning the effectiveness of social media.




Cyberbully+ writes:

Photoshop battle, anyone?


Via Allan Cavanagh

Previously: Democracy Now

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Part of today’s report on the Vatican by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Recommending a new investigation into the Magdalene Laundries.

Mark Kelly, Director of the  Irish Council For Civil Liberties (ICCL) writes:

“This is a devastating critique of systemic child protection failures by the Vatican which continue to have a profound effect on many people in Ireland. The report zeros in on some of the most egregious forms of abuse committed in this State under the ultimate authority of the Vatican. In the light of these unprecedented findings, the ICCL is calling upon the Pope’s diplomatic representative in Ireland, Archbishop Charles John Brown, Papal Nuncio and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps to provide a detailed account of the action that will be taken in this State to ensure that these shortcomings are rectified”

Pope’s Ambassador Should Give Answers on UN Vatican Abuse Report (ICCL)

Earlier: The Damned

Previously: The McAleese Report: A Conclusion

Thanks Walter Jayawardene