Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Report overturns FF/Green claims over State’s role

In 2009, the then Fianna Fáil/Green government denied any state involvement in sending women to the Magdalene institutions, but yesterday’s report found that assertion false.
It found 26.5% of the 10,000 women, for whom they could find records, were sent to the laundries via an arm of the State.

It said that women on demand, on probation, on temporary release from prison and early reason from prison were sent to the laundries. The majority of women sent by the criminal justice system were imprisoned for petty crimes such as thieving, or not buying a train ticket.

According to the committee, there was always a solid “legislative reason” for sending these women to the laundries.

It also said those on probation, in the vast majority of cases, left when their term of probation expired.

There were, however, times that women were sent to institutions without a legislative basis being in place, often by gardaí or probation officers.

“These were typically cases of temporary homelessness or [at least at one Magdalene Laundry, as a temporary refuge prior to other arrangements, where a young girl was being introduced to prostitution] and were for very short periods of time,” the report said.

It also found that children were sent to the nuns from industrial and reformatory schools and were also sent to laundries before going to an industrial or reformatory school.

Often, they were sent to the nuns from the schools as part of “post discharge” supervision until either the age of 18 or later, until the age of 21. These transfers were completed under the 1908 and 1941 Children Act.

Psychiatric hospitals, mother and baby homes, social services, hospitals and county homes also sent women to the Magdalene laundries.

According to the report, “there was no obligation on a girl or woman referred in this way to enter the institution — and no penalty, including withdrawal of other forms of public assistance, arose if she refused to do so.”

However, the committee said it was not in a position to determine whether or not this was made clear to the girls or women in question.

Mother and baby homes accounted for only 3.9% of known routes of entry to the Magdalene Laundries, according to the authors.

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