Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Dearbhail McDonald: Findings contradict previous claims

THE State's "significant" involvement in the admission of young girls and women to Magdalene Laundries contradicts previous claims by the Government that the "vast majority" entered on a voluntary basis or with parental consent.
Two years ago Sean Aylward, inset, then Secretary General of the Department of Justice, told the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) that the vast majority of women who went to Laundries "went there voluntarily or, if they were minors, with the consent of their parents or guardians".

But the report of the Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalene Laundries found that more than a quarter of referrals were made or facilitated by the State.

At the examination of the Irish Government's record in Geneva on May 24, 2011, acting UNCAT chairperson Felice Gaer questioned Mr Aylward's statement about voluntary consent. 

The intensive series of questions followed a report submitted to UNCAT by the Justice for Magdalenes (JFM), who claimed that the "Irish state was complicit in the incarceration of women and girls" in the laundries, where the women worked without pay.

Mr Aylward told the committee that the only situation where women were ordered to be detained at the centres by law related to just one institution in Dublin, which was used as a remand centre and subject to inspection by the State.

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