State 'failing' Magdalene women as report delayed
SHOCK AND disappointment has followed the announcement yesterday that a report from the interdepartmental committee on Magdalene laundries will not now be available until later this year. It was due this month.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter announced he had been advised by Senator Martin McAleese, chairman of the interdepartmental committee, that its final report “will be submitted before the end of the year at the latest”. The committee produced an interim report last October.
Mr McAleese had advised that the committee had made “excellent progress despite the considerable challenges faced”. However, “relevant records continue to be identified by Government departments and State agencies and the committee also continues to receive new submissions from representative and advocacy groups”.
The committee felt it would be improper to conclude its work without examining this additional material, Mr McAleese had said.
The Justice for Magdalenes group said it was “shocked and disappointed” by the announcement.
“Further delay is unacceptable” where the Magdalene issue was concerned, it said. The group was “gravely concerned for the welfare of survivors, who are mostly ageing and elderly women, many of them vulnerable. They have already waited too long for an apology, for redress, and for restorative justice”.
It also called on the State “to issue an immediate apology and implement a reparation scheme for women incarcerated in Ireland’s Magdalene laundries.”
It said that “three years into this campaign, 22 months after the Irish Human Rights Commission recommendation, 15 months after the United Nations Committee Against Torture recommendation, by refusing to apologise and provide redress, Ireland’s Government is failing some of the most vulnerable in our society. For this we should all feel shame”.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald expressed her “deep disappointment” and called on the Government “to urgently put in place support mechanisms for survivors many of whom are elderly, suffering ill health as a result of their incarceration and have been refused pension entitlements by the Department of Social Protection.”
She said that “if the committee is struggling with its workload the Minister simply needs to give it the necessary resources to complete its work so that the Government can get on with providing redress to the survivors”.
She recalled how, in July, “the Government-appointed special rapporteur on child protection and child law Geoffrey Shannon described the Magdalene women’s incarceration as forced labour and criticised the Government for denying survivors the redress that they are clearly entitled to”.