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Sinn Féin tables private members’ motion on Magdalene Laundries

22 September, 2012 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has announced that her party will use its private members time in the Dáil next week to move a motion on the abuses that took place in the Magdalene Laundries.

The motion has been tabled by Sinn Féin with the support of 17 independent TDs and Deputy McDonald says she hopes to receive support from the government parties.

Speaking this afternoon Deputy McDonald said:

“Sinn Féin brings forward this motion in recognition of the huge injustice done to the women and girls of the Magdalene Laundries and of the hurt and hardship caused by their exclusion from the Residential Institutional Redress Scheme.

“”The treatment of the 30,000 women and girls of the Magdalene Laundries goes to the very core of what was wrong historically in Irish society.

“To date they have not received the recognition or redress that they deserve.  The women are now predominantly aging or elderly and it is of the utmost priority and urgency that their search for justice is responded to in full by the government and the state.  Their case is unanswerable and justice must be done.

“This is not a party political issue.  Our motion is tabled with the support of 17 Independent TDs and I invite each and every member of the Dáil to support it.

“I very much hope that we can get the support of the government parties when it is voted on in the Dáil on Wednesday evening.”

Text of motion:

“That Dáil Éireann:

-          Notes that this motion has been drawn up with a survivor centred ethos

-          Agrees with the State’s position, as articulated in Dáil Eireann in February 2002, that abuse occurred  in Magdalene Laundries, that the abuse was an appalling breach of trust and that the victims of that abuse suffered and continue to suffer greatly;

-          Acknowledges the hurt and hardship caused by the exclusion of  survivors of the Magdalene Laundries in the Residential Institutional Redress Scheme;

-          Acknowledges that the Magdalene survivor population is predominantly aging and elderly

-          Acknowledges that survivor testimony records that women were made to work without pay, were kept behind locked doors and returned by Gardaí if they attempted to escape;

-          Welcomes the establishment of the Inter-Departmental Committee to clarify any State interaction with the Magdalene Laundries and to produce a narrative detailing such interaction;

-          Notes the Irish Human Rights Commission Assessment of the Human Rights Issues Arising in relation to the "Magdalene Laundries";

-          Notes the UN Committee Against Torture recommendations on the Magdalene Laundries,  its insistence that the State ensure that survivors obtain redress and its grave concern at the failure by the State  to institute prompt, independent and thorough investigations into the allegations of ill-treatment of the women;

-          Further welcomes the public statement of June 2011 by four religious congregations who ran 10 Magdalene Laundries expressing a willingness to bring greater clarity, understanding, healing and justice in the interests of all the women involved;

-          Further acknowledges that there is growing evidence of the State (a) sending women and girls to the Magdalene Laundries, (b) providing the Religious Orders with direct and indirect financial support, and (c) failing to supervise the Religious Orders operation of the Magdalene Laundries;

-          Considers most serious the allegations of forced labour in the Magdalene Laundries, noting the incarceration and use of women and children as workers without pay would constitute forced labour under the 1930 Forced Labour Convention of the International Labour Organisation which Ireland ratified in 1931, and accepts that the rejection and prohibition of slavery is a peremptory norm of international law;

-          Acknowledges the need for immediate and meaningful discussion on an apology and redress

-          Commits to providing immediate funding for and implementation of a helpline for the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries;

-          Commits to supporting survivors in accessing pensions that reflect their years of work in the Magdalene Laundries;

-          Commits to an open and meaningful debate on the issue of an apology, redress and restorative justice measures once the Inter-Departmental Committee has reported.

Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Sandra McLellan, Jonathan O’Brien, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín, Joe Higgins, Catherine Murphy, Finian McGrath , Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Thomas Pringle, Seamus Healy, Clare Daly, Mattie McGrath, Tom Fleming, Joe Higgins, John Halligan, Shane Ross,  Joan Collins, Richard Boyd Barrett, Michael Healy Rae, Mick Wallace, Stephen Donnelly.

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