Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Human Rights Issues
Question 51: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will outline his response to representations made by the group, Justice for the Magdalenes; if he intends to act on the recommendation from the Irish Human Rights Commission that a statutory mechanism be established to investigate matters advanced by the Justice of the Magdalenes and, in appropriate cases, to grant redress where warranted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43020/10]
As I have indicated to the House on more than one occasion, my Department has met with representatives of Justice for the Magdalenes during which there has been an exchange of views. My Department has offered - and will continue to offer - every assistance possible to allow access to the limited available records in the normal way. It behoves all of us to have regard to the age profile of the group of women who spent time in Magdalen Laundries and for this reason my Department remains open to considering any further assistance by, for example, the continued sharing of records that might be provided to the many elderly survivors and/or the families of people who were in these institutions.
Section 9 of the Human Rights Commission Act, 2000 provides a statutory mechanism where the Human Rights Commission may conduct an enquiry into any relevant matter. I understand that in June of this year, the Justice for Magdalenes (JFM)) group formally requested the Commission to carry out such an enquiry into the treatment of women and girls who resided in Magdalen Laundries. The Commission published their assessment of that request on 9 November, 2010. The Government has noted that the Human Rights Commission decided not carry to out a statutory enquiry itself as requested by the Justice for Magdalenes group and as it is entitled to do under the legislation which established it.
Subsequent to its publication, the report was the subject of an Adjournment Debate in this House on that same evening (9 November, 2010) . As outlined to the House in that Debate, the report raises issues for consideration by a range of Government Departments. My Department has begun a preliminary analysis of the report. I am sure the House and the Deputy will appreciate that it would be wrong to pre-empt the findings that will emerge from this analysis.