Tuesday, 9 November 2010
Report on Magdalene Laundries
Tom Kitt (Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
I strongly support the recommendations of the Irish Human Rights Commission that the Government initiate a statutory inquiry into the human rights violations arising from the treatment of women and young girls in the Magdalene laundries. I welcome the fact the Attorney General will now examine the IHRC report in consultation with the relevant Departments. The IHRC concluded that for these women and girls who entered the laundries following a court process there was a clear State involvement in their entry despite the statements to the contrary by various Ministers. In light of the report I believe the survivors of Magdalene laundries should receive an apology from the State and a distinct redress scheme for survivors of the laundries should be established. The survivors of the Bethany Home should be treated in the same way. I believe it was a major error to exclude the Magdalene laundries from the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 and the subsequent redress scheme.
There are no records available of any women or young girls who were referred to laundries by State agencies, or the children born to them. Neither is there any clear information on whether or how girls or women left the laundries, or if they had a choice in doing so. All of this information should be made available. To this end, I ask CORI and the four religious congregations that operated the laundries to agree to meet Justice for Magdalenes to deal with the issues of records, compensation and other related matters.
I pay tribute to Dr. James Smith of Boston College and the Justice for Magdalenes group, with whom I first came into contact in August 2009, for their relentless efforts in seeking justice for survivors of Magdalene laundries. Dr. Smith is in the Visitors Gallery tonight with Dr. Katherine O'Donnell. They and their group have met with many obstacles at State and church levels along their journey but today is a very significant day for them in their campaign and it will give them great strength to see this campaign through until restorative justice is achieved in the case of the Magdalene survivors.