Responding to the Justice Minister’s announcement that the final report of the Magdalene Laundries inter-Departmental Committee will not now be completed until the end of the year Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has expressed her deep disappointment and called on the Government to urgently put in place support mechanisms for survivors many of whom are elderly, suffering ill health as a result of their incarceration and have been refused pension entitlements by the Department of Social Protection.
Deputy McDonald said:
“We all appreciate the work and time involved in gathering testimonies and engaging with the various Government Departments, state agencies and stake holders however the fact remains there is a wealth of evidence already in the public domain proving State’s involvement with the Magdalene Laundries.
“If the committee is struggling with its work load the minister simply needs to give it the necessary resources to complete its work so that the Government can get on with providing redress to the survivors.
“When in opposition the Justice Minister and many of his colleagues railed against the Government’s failure to provide redress and an apology for the Magdalene women. Yet since taking office they have stalled at every turn despite the recommendation of the UN Committee Against Torture last year that the State ensure all Magdalene victims receive redress.
“In July of this year the Government appointed Special Rapporteur on child protection and child law Geoffrey Shannon described the Magdalene women’s incarceration as forced labour and criticised the Government for denying survivors the redress that they are clearly entitled to.
“The on-going refusal by Labour and Fine Gael Ministers to provide an apology, redress and supports for the survivors of Magdalene Laundries and Bethany Home is now nothing less than a brutally cruel act. Most of the Magdalene women are elderly, many are suffering ill health as a result of their incarceration and in some instances the Department of Social Protection has shamefully refused to pay out their pension entitlements.
“Government Ministers cannot continue to hide their inaction behind an under resourced and arguably unnecessary Committee. It’s time now the Justice Minister and his cabinet colleagues stepped up and did the right thing by the Magdalene women.” ENDS