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O’Brien demands immediate formal State apology for Magdelene Laundries victims

6 June, 2011 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

The State must end the long history of failing the survivors and victims of the Magdalene laundries and the Government must issue an immediate formal apology and launch a statutory inquiry into the abuses according to Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien.

Deputy O’Brien has joined with the Justice for Magdalenes in welcoming the UN Committee against Torture’s calls for a statutory inquiry into the Magdalene laundries and again reiterates the calls for redress and a formal state apology to the survivors.

Commenting from Cork today Deputy O’Brien said:

“Sinn Féin calls on the Minister for Justice to bring forward the Government’s proposals for contending with the State’s sorry legacy of not dealing with the issue of the Magdalene laundries.

“In response to a Sinn Féin question on the 18th May, the Minister stated that a draft submission on the Magdalene laundries would be brought to the cabinet in early June, at the latest and that the Government would bring forward proposals following this.

“We hope these proposals are forthcoming. They should contain a full acceptance of the State’s role in not only allowing these laundries to exist, and surrendering state responsibility to the Catholic Church, but also in using them as an alternative to the Criminal Justice System.

“The UN Committee against Torture in Geneva last month heard that courts in this sate regularly sent women and girls to the laundries as an alternative to jail and others were transferred into them from industrial schools, which were the absolute responsibility of the state. The Gardaí were also responsible for capturing and returning women to these institutions, if they managed to escape.

“There can, on this basis, be no abdication of the State’s complicity and responsibility for the Magdalene laundries. These were not privately run institutions, with no state involvement, where women or girls were sent 'voluntarily'.

“Sinn Féin commends the bravery and commitment of Justice for Magdalenes and demands that the Government do what little they can at this late stage to right the wrongs of the past.” ENDS

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