'They are calling us liars': 14 women who worked in Magdalene laundry fear they will not get full redress

A cohort of women who worked in the High Park Magdalene laundry has expressed fears they will not receive full redress due 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 post-1980 and worked in the High Park Magdalene laundry in Dublin have yet to receive a provisional offer for redress from the Department of Justice.

A number of these women said they have been told by the Restorative Justice Unit (RJU) in the Department of Justice, which administers the redress scheme, that the Order has stated that it stopped sending girls from An Grianán to work in the main laundry in 1980.

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 Order was reimbursed for some of the cost of the construction by the Eastern Health Board in early 1986.

The RJU has asked a number of the women affected to attend a meeting tomorrow to discuss their applications.

File photo of a Magdelene Laundry
File photo of a Magdelene Laundry

One woman, who was in An Grianán between 1975 and 1982, told the Irish Examiner that she had no interest in attending such a meeting.

"I went to the High Court for two years on this. I signed sworn affidavits that I worked there which were accepted in 2017. I don't need to go in for a meeting. They are calling us liars. I am so upset about it," she said.

Human rights lawyer Colin Smith pointed out that the High Court accepted in 2017 that children worked at High Park into the 1980s.

"This was conceded by the Minister, yet his Department is now relying on vague and unreliable information received, it seems, from the religious order which ran the High Park Magdalene Laundry to badger women who worked in the Laundry after 1980 into submitting to interview.

"The Department has already refused to share its information with the women to give them an opportunity to refute it."

It is obscene that in 2019, women clearly entitled to redress as a matter of law should have to appear in person to beg for it from Department of Justice officials.

"There appears to be no limit to the determination of the Department of Justice to make access to redress as difficult as possible for victims of historic human rights violations," he said.

The Department of Justice said it has received information from the Order in relation to the issue of An Grianán residents working in the laundry from mid-1980 on.

"To ensure that we have the most accurate and up-to-date information available, the Department has raised a series of further questions with the religious congregation, in relation to activities undertaken in An Grianán during that period and in relation to individual records for each of the relevant applicants under the addendum. As this is an ongoing enquiry, we are not in a position to comment further at this stage," said the statement.

It said that any interview carried out with an applicant "is solely for her benefit" and to facilitate a fair assessment of the claim for redress.

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