Kenny asks orders to ‘reflect’ on refusal to pay redress
Taoiseach says he cannot force four congregations to contribute to scheme for former residents
But Mr Shatter said today he did not see any purpose in “name-calling”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, he said he understood Mr O’Riordan’s emotional response but he could only urge the orders to meet the ethical and moral obligation he believed they had.
Mr Shatter said the question of awarding charitable status was a statutory one and that he could not interfere in statute law.
“We do welcome the fact though that they are actively participating in ensuring that we can validate claims made and validate lengths of stay of former residents in the Magdalene laundries,” he said.
Asked whether there was scope to take legal action against the religious orders, Mr Shatter said: “No, the reality is there isn’t scope to take legal action against them.
“This is a moral and ethical issue. The Magdalene laundries as we know provided a form of refuge for many women, but it was an extraordinarily harsh regime and there was the issue of women working unpaid in the laundries and the impact on their lives of the experience of the laundries.”
An inter-departmental committee, chaired by former senator Dr Martin McAleese, presented the Minister with its report on State involvement in the laundries in February.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny later apologised on behalf of the State to the women who had been in the laundries.
That same day it was announced that Judge John Quirke would review the McAleese report findings. His recommendations were received by Government on June 5th.
The United Nations torture watchdog has criticised the McAleese inquiry, saying it lacked many elements of a “prompt, independent and thorough” investigation.
The UN Committee Against Torture wrote to the Government in May asking for information as to measures the State was planning to take “to ensure there is a full inquiry into all complaints of abuse”, as the committee had originally recommended.
Mr Shatter said the reality was that for many years the story of the Magdelene women had been ignored and that, as Minister, he had been determined to get to the truth of what happened.
He said Dr Martin McAleese had published a “very comprehensive” report on the laundries. Mr Justice Quirke had made a series of recommendations for a redress scheme and over 200 women had already applied to that scheme.
Mr Shatter said he hoped the congregations would reconsider the approach they had taken.