Department refuses to share records concerning post-1980 laundry row

Department refuses to share records concerning post-1980 laundry row

A solicitor for women who worked in the High Park Magdalene Laundry has been refused information by the Department of Justice in relation to a dispute over whether they worked in the laundry after 1980.

A total of 14 women who were in the An Grianán training centre after 1980 and who worked in the High Park Magdalene laundry in Dublin have yet to receive a provisional offer for redress from the department.

A number of these women said they have been told by the department’s Restorative Justice Unit (RJU) in the Department of Justice, which administers the redress scheme, that the reason for the delay is that the order that ran the institution — the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge — has stated that it stopped sending girls from An Grianán to work in the main laundry in 1980.

Solicitor Wendy Lyon, of criminal defence and human rights firm KOD Lyons, represents a number of the affected women. She said she had requested information on the details supplied to the RJU by the order from the Department on three separate occasions.

“I was twice refused, once I only got an acknowledgment of receipt,” she said.

A number of the women have been invited into the department to inform it of the work they carried out in the laundry after 1980. It is believed some of the women declined this invitation.

The women have learned that a potential reason for this cut-off point is a claim that a separate laundry was constructed at An Grianán that year and that no girls were sent to work in the main laundry as a result.

However, the Irish Examiner has obtained documents showing this laundry was constructed “in the early months of 1984” at a cost of £17,001.

The Irish Examiner asked the department if this issue was one of those cited by the order. It declined to respond to the question.

In a statement, it said its goal is to process their applications “as quickly as possible” and that Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan is “strongly committed” to ensuring that those entitled to redress receive it.

In the case of those who resided in An Grianán, the department is currently working to understand the operation of the institution from 1980 onwards to facilitate the processing of applications,” said the department.

“As part of this process, a number of applicants have been invited to speak to the department about their work. The department has also asked the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity for information. We would, of course, be happy to receive any other evidence which anyone may possess which would further aid this work.”

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