Magdalene laundries report published today


The interdepartmental committee report on State involvement with Magdalene laundries will be presented to women who were in the laundries and their advocacy groups in Dublin this morning.

It will also be presented to the Government at its weekly meeting today.

The report was prepared under the chairmanship of Senator Martin McAleese and the committee was set up in July 2011 “to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalene laundries, to clarify any State interaction, and to produce a narrative detailing such interaction”.

The report will be published this afternoon.

State involvement

Steven O’Riordan of the Magdalene Survivors Together group said last night he would be “flabbergasted” if the report found there was no State involvement with the laundries.

He hoped that it would show the full extent of that involvement and lay the basis for an apology “without delay” by the Taoiseach on behalf of the State to the women involved.

He noted how on July 20th, 2011, in response to the Cloyne report, the Taoiseach had pointed out “this is not Rome. Nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world. This is the ‘Republic’ of Ireland 2011.”

Mr O’Riordan also hoped the report would lead to a scheme whereby the women would be paid for work done in the laundries and secure for them appropriate pensions.

Domination of laundries

The first Magdalene laundry in Ireland opened on Dublin’s Leeson Street in 1767. Four female religious congregations came to dominate the running of the laundries.

These were the Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of our Lady of Charity of Refuge, and the Good Shepherd Sisters.

The latter congregation also operated a Magdalene laundry in Belfast until 1977.

There were 10 Magdalene laundries in the Republic following independence. These were at Waterford, New Ross, two in Cork, Limerick, Galway, and four in Dublin at Dún Laoghaire, Donnybrook, Drumcondra and Gloucester/ Seán MacDermott Street. This latter – and last – laundry closed in October 1996.

Since 1900, exact figures for women in the laundries have not been available from the congregations.