Magdalene survivors’ advocate Maeve awarded top legal accolade

Maeve O'Rourke:  'The recognition the award gives to the Justice for Magdalenes is the most important aspect  for me.'

A barrister who has represented victims of the Magdalene Laundries as a law student has been awarded a prestigious legal accolade in Britain.

Maeve O’Rourke, 26, has been named as Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in the Family Law Awards.

Since 2010, Ms O’Rourke, from Dublin, has provided pro bono legal assistance to the Justice for Magdalenes survivors’ advocacy group seeking reparation for the survivors of the laundries.

While still a law student and as the only lawyer for the voluntary group, Ms O’Rourke brought a case before the Irish Human Rights Commission in 2010 and UN Committee against Torture and UN Human Rights Council in 2011.

She later wrote a follow- up report to the UN Committee against Torture and her pro bono work throughout the year also included assisting Justice for Magdalenes in drafting parliamentary questions, corresponding with the Government and president of the Law ReformCommission regarding the reparations process, designing a guide for survivors in engaging with the reparations process, and maintaining communication with survivors.

Last night Ms O’Rourke said of the award: “First and foremost the recognition that it gives to the campaign of the Justice for Magdalenes is the most important aspect for me.”

She said 2013 had been a great year for the Magdalene women not least with the apology from the Taoiseach.

Ms O’Rourke has also worked with Equality Now, an organisation committed to ending violence and discrimination towards women and girls around the world, and has held research positions with the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate, Just for Kids, the University of Minnesota Law School Human Rights Centre, and Harvard Law School Human Rights Centre.

She will collect her award at the Family Law Awards at London’s Hilton hotel on Oct 9.

Ms O’Rourke is the daughter of broadcasters Seán O’Rourke and Caroline Murphy.



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