Magdalene laundries report due next week


The report into the Magdalene laundries is expected to be published next Tuesday afternoon, February 5th. It will be presented to the Cabinet that morning.

The report has been prepared by a committee of officials from five Government departments and chaired by Senator Martin McAleese, assisted by another official from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The laundries, where an estimated 30,000 single mothers and other women were detained between 1922 and 1996, were operated by four religious congregations. Most of the women have since died. The last such laundry, at Seán MacDermott Street in Dublin, closed in 1996.

On June 14th, 2011, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter announced that the Government was to set up the committee to investigate the State’s role in the Magdalene laundries. The previous week the four religious congregations concerned had agreed to co-operate with any such inquiry.

The Minister’s announcement followed a lengthy campaign by the Justice for Magdalenes group and a report from the United Nations Committee Against Torture, published on June 6th, 2011.

It urged the Government to set up a statutory inquiry into the Magdalene laundries, to bring prosecutions where necessary and provide compensation to surviving women.

It said it was gravely concerned by the failure of the State to “protect girls and women who were involuntarily confined between 1922 and 1996 in the Magdalene laundries”.

In November 2010, the Irish Human Rights Commission called on the Government to establish a statutory inquiry into the treatment of the Magdalene women, echoing similar demands from the Magdalene Survivors Together group.

The 10 laundries were operated by the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Sisters of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters.

Those operated by the Sisters of Mercy were at Galway and Dún Laoghaire; by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity at Drumcondra and Seán MacDermott Street in Dublin. The Sisters of Charity operated laundries at Donnybrook, Dublin, and Cork; and the Good Shepherd Sisters ran laundries at Limerick, Cork, Waterford and New Ross.