Magdalene report delay ‘prolonging the stigma’

Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) has hit out at Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s refusal to confirm when he will publish a report probing state involvement with the institutions.

Last week in the Dáil, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach for a date for publication, but Mr Kenny refused to give a definitive timeframe for its publication.

However, he expressed confidence it would be completed by the end of this year.

The inter-departmental committee headed up by Dr Martin McAleese was set up in Jun 2011 and had been due to report its findings in September. This was later delayed until the year end. It is understood that the report might not now be published until into the new year.

Commenting on Mr Kenny’s refusal to give a definitive date for the publication of the report, JFM spokesperson Professor James Smith said survivors of the Magdalene Laundries had already waited far too long.

“Magdalene survivors have already been waiting too long for an apology and redress. To allow these ageing and elderly women to endure another Christmas in uncertainty and prolong the stigma they are forced to bear is further cruelty,” he said.

JFM has uncovered and published more than 50 examples of the State committing girls as young as 14 to laundries. It also submitted over 500 pages of newly gathered survivor testimony to the inter-departmental committee — testimony in which women say they were imprisoned in Magdalene Laundries and had worked without pay.

Also, in his most recent report, Dr Geoffrey Shannon, special rapporteur on child protection, said that the treatment of girls and women in laundries “constituted slavery”.

While in opposition, current Justice Minister Alan Shatter said there was irrefutable evidence that the State was “directly complicit” in sending women to Magdalene Laundries.

Reacting to the continued lack of a date for the report’s publication, Ms McDonald said the report should be published as soon as possible and that time should be set aside to allow the Dáil to debate its findings.

“While there is an abundance of evidence in the public domain which has already established widespread state involvement in the incarceration of these women, the conclusion of the committee’s work will be nonetheless welcome. Senator McAleese’s report must be made public on presentation to the minister for justice.”

“For far too long a cloud of state secrecy has surrounded this huge injustice,” shes said.

“Fine Gael and Labour spoke many fine words in support of the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries when in opposition. It’s time now to turn these words into action,” she said.

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