Magdalene laundries report due later in year
THE FINAL report of the committee investigating the treatment of women in Magdalene laundries will be published “at the latest before the end of the year”, Minister of State for Justice Kathleen Lynch has said.
Ms Lynch said committee chairman Senator Martin McAleese had explained that information still being identified had the capacity to add to the overall outcome of its work in a meaningful way.
“The committee feels that it would be improper to conclude without examining this additional information,” Ms Lynch added.
Ms Lynch was responding to a Sinn Féin private member’s motion calling for an apology, pensions and a helpline for survivors of the Magdalene laundries.
A Government amendment acknowledges the need for compassion, but adds it would be wrong for the committee to conclude its work without examining additional material before it.
The House will vote on the motion tonight.
Ms Lynch said she and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter had long believed the issues raised by, or on behalf of, the women and girls resident in the laundries had to be addressed. “We have great sympathy for these women and want to help in bringing some closure for the individuals concerned,” she added. All involved were co-operating with the process and it must be seen through, she said.
“The only reasonable course of action now is to await that report,” Ms Lynch added. “We will be better informed, the report will be published and we will have a much clearer understanding of the facts involved.”
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party’s motion set out clear support for the committee’s work. She did not accept the committee should be used as a delaying tactic or as a rationale for withholding the apology, acknowledgment and supports due to the women.
“The complicity of the State has been established,” Ms McDonald said. “The McAleese committee is tasked with quantifying the extent of that collusion.”
Ms McDonald claimed the Government was hiding behind the committee, adding “it is the last fig leaf, the last excuse to stand still”.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said it was totally unacceptable that women were sent to Magdalene laundries and kept there against their will.
“I am not here to make political points, nor should any member of this House, when speaking about this very sensitive, hurtful and complex part of Ireland’s history,” he added. “There should be an all-party approach, if at all possible, in reaching a satisfactory conclusion.”
Thomas Pringle (Independent) said there was no mercy evident on the part of the Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of Charity who ran the laundries.
Michael Healy-Rae (Independent) said many people had gone to their graves without obtaining even an acceptable apology. “That is sinful,” he added.