McAleese to chair Magdalene group


Martin McAleese, husband of the President, has been appointed to chair the inter-departmental committee established to investigate the treatment of women and girls in Magdalene laundries.

Dr McAleese, who was recently appointed as a Taoiseach’s nominee to the Seanad, will report to the Cabinet on the progress being made by the committee within three months of the group’s first meeting.

The committee is expected to begin consultations with the religious congregations and representatives of those who lived in the laundries shortly.

Announcing the appointment today, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said he was delighted the Senator had agreed to take on the role.

“The value of his work and involvement in the peace process in Northern Ireland and the positive contribution he has made to life on this island have been widely recognised,” he said.

“He is a person of the highest integrity whose presence on the Committee will, I believe, both enhance its stature and, importantly, reassure everyone concerned that the role of chairperson of the inter-departmental committee is a truly independent one.”

Mr Shatter said the Government believed it was essential to fully establish “the true facts and circumstances” relating to laundries as a first step.

The remit of the committee will be to clarify the State's interaction with the Magdalene laundries, the Minister said.

Last month, the Government ordered an investigation into the treatment of women and girls in Magdalene laundries.

This followed a damning report by the UN Committee against Torture which recommended that State establish a full statutory investigation into allegations of torture and degrading treatment against women and girls committed to the laundries and forced to work without pay.