Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Magdalenes group hits out at Government

Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) has hit out at the Government’s failure to provide redress and an independent investigation into the abuse carried out in Magdalene Laundries. 

The group made the criticisms after issuing a summary of its submissions to the inter-departmental committee set up to “clarify” any state involvement in the Magdalene Laundries.

In a comprehensive document, complete with Magdalene survivor testimony and clear examples, JFM outline “clear evidence” of state involvement in the operation of Magdalene Laundries in three main respects:

* The state was involved in sending women and young girls to the institutions and ensuring they remained there. This was done to deal with social problems;

* The state also provided the religious orders with direct and indirect financial support: direct financial support from “capitation” (per head) grants for certain of the women and girls incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries; and indirect financial support in terms of valuable state contracts for the cleaning laundry;

* The state entirely failed to supervise the religious orders’ operation of the Magdalene Laundries by allowing women and girls to be incarcerated illegally, allowing them to be forced to work in servitude for no pay. It failed to enforce its own health and safety legislation, failed to require girls of school-going age to be educated, failed to ensure that social security contributions were paid in respect of women and girls in the laundries and it failed to ensure that any woman or girl who died was issued with a death certificate.

JFM said the “bottom line” was the Government has not complied with the recommendation made by the United Nations Committee against Torture (UNCAT) that it offer redress to survivors and establish an independent inquiry into the full facts of the Magdalene Laundry abuse.

Speaking in the Dáil in March, Justice Minister Alan Shatter appeared to row back on previous comments by claiming state involvement in committing women to Magdalene Laundries had a “very complicated” background. 

However, speaking as justice spokesperson when in opposition in 2009, Mr Shatter stated there was “irrefutable evidence” within the department he now heads of state involvement.

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