Renewed calls for independent investigation into Magdalene laundries

McAleese Committee ‘tasked solely with investigating the issue of state involvement with the Laundries’

The entrance to the former Magdalene laundry on Stanhope Street North in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The entrance to the former Magdalene laundry on Stanhope Street North in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Fri, Nov 1, 2013, 12:13

There have been further calls for an independent investigation into Ireland’s Magdalene laundries.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNCHR) in Geneva where members were briefed by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties this week.

The Government’s refusal to commission an independent investigation into the treatment of women held in the Magdalene laundries was discussed.

Stephen O’Hare of the ICCL said afterwards that UNCHR members were “plainly aware that other UN treaty bodies, including the [UN] Committee Against Torture, have called for an independent investigation into the treatment of women held in the Magdalene laundries.

“This is an issue that is simply not going to go away.”


Human rights
He said “the ICCL anticipates that the Government will face some searching questions on this . . . when it appears before the Human Rights Committee next year”.

The McAleese committee which investigated the Magdalene laundries and presented its report to the Government last February, was chaired by Martin McAleese and comprised representatives of six Government departments. It was set up to establish the facts of State involvement with the laundries.

Maeve O’Rourke, of the Justice for Magdalenes advocacy group, said that “the Government is wrong to have accepted the McAleese report as ‘a comprehensive and objective report of the factual position’ regarding the Magdalene laundries”.