500 pages of new testimony on Magdalene laundries

Justice for Magdalenes is to submit over 500 pages of newly gathered survivor testimony to Senator Martin McAleese — testimony in which women say they were imprisoned in Magdalene laundries and had worked without pay.

Mr McAleese heads up the inter-departmental committee which was set up to “clarify” any involvement by the State in the Magdalene laundries.

The testimony concerns women who said they were imprisoned in the laundries, returned by gardaí if they tried to escape, and were never paid for work.

The campaign group yesterday submitted its NGO follow-up report to the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) in Geneva.

This one-year process also requires the State to report back on measures taken to put last June’s recommendation on the Magdalene laundries into effect.

This called for the Government to ensure survivors obtain redress and to establish an independent investigation into the abuse.

Maeve O’Rourke, who represented JFM in Geneva yesterday, said that given the more than 1,500 pages of evidence of the State’s interaction it has already submitted to Mr McAleese, an apology, redress, and reparation was required.

While the group said it was committed to working with the inter-departmental committee, it stressed it was not the fully independent investigative body called for by UNCAT.

The group also presented a courtesy copy of its follow up report to vice-chair of UNCAT Felice Gaer at an event co-sponsored by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties in Dublin.

Ms Gaer challenged the assertion by Department of Justice director general Seán Aylward that the majority of women in the laundries went there voluntarily or, in the case of minors, with the consent of their parents.

JFM has uncovered numerous examples of women sent to the laundries by the courts between 1926 and 1983.


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