Magdalene report to omit sensitive data


Sensitive information disclosed to the McAleese committee, which has been investigating State involvement with Magdalene laundries, will not be published in the committee’s report tomorrow.

The interdepartmental committee, chaired by Senator Martin McAleese, began its work in July 2011 and has sought to establish the extent of State interaction with the 10 Magdalene laundries in Ireland between 1922 and 1996.

As Senator McAleese made clear when appointed on July 1st, 2011, “the sole purpose of the committee is to clarify and detail the facts of any State interaction with the laundries”.

‘Appropriate safeguards’

An interim report the committee published on October 25th, 2011, disclosed that “appropriate safeguards” had been put in place to enable the four religious congregations concerned to co-operate with the committee “within the law and while fully respecting the sensitivity and confidentiality of the records”.

It said an order had been made by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to authorise the disclosure of sensitive personal data to – and processing of such data by – the committee.

The congregations involved were the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, the Religious Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

No personal data

The report said, “in no case would such sensitive personal data be published or made available to the public without the consent of the data subject”, living or dead. It added: “The names or personal data of former residents of the Magdalene laundries will not be published or otherwise released to the general public.”

Also, an archive of the committee’s work will not include “personal and sensitive personal data”, all of which will be “destroyed and/or returned to the relevant religious order upon conclusion of the committee’s work and publication of its report”, it said.

Researchers at the women’s studies centre in the school of social justice at UCD are seeking interviewees for a Magdalene oral history project. It is collecting accounts from Magdalene survivors, relatives, members of the religious orders, and anyone who wishes to share memories and experiences of the institutions. Those interested should contact 01-7167804 or