Justice Department misses Magdalene deadline

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall.

The Department of Justice has missed the deadline to respond to one of the Ombudsman’s key recommendations about the Magdalene Redress scheme.

Following his scathing report into the scheme in November, which found the department had wrongly refused some Magdalene Laundry survivors access to redress payments, Ombudsman Peter Tyndall made a number of recommendations to the department.

Principal among these was that the department fully reconsider, with a view to accepting, the applications of women who worked in one of the listed laundries but who were recorded as having been “admitted” to a training centre or industrial school in the same building, attached to or located on the grounds.

Mr Tyndall asked that a report on this be provided to his office by the end of February. The department has refused the women access to redress. It does not dispute they worked in the laundries but argues they were not “directly admitted” to one of the 12 listed institutions, so are not entitled to redress.

However, the Ombudsman was given evidence that some of the Magdalene Laundries were either physically linked to these units, or were located on the same grounds as the Magdalene laundries and were, in reality, “one and the same institution”.

In 2015, the Irish Examiner revealed that evidence that the An Grianán training centre and High Park Magdalene Laundry in Drumcondra, Dublin were “one and the same thing” was uncovered by the HSE in 2012 — yet An Grianán was excluded from the Magdalene redress scheme.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said it was working on a full assessment of the “administrative, resource and legal implications” of the Ombudsman’s recommendation.

In relation to his principal recommendation, it will be necessary to carry out a full assessment of its administrative, resource and legal implications,” said the department in its statement. “A basic issue to be addressed is an estimation of the numbers involved.

“This will require an input from other government departments, for example from the Department of Education and Skills in terms of the number of residents in industrial schools who would have worked some hours in the laundries in the Magdalen Institutions. Full and careful consideration is being given to the recommendations in the Ombudsman’s report.”

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