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Magdalene survivors redress mechanism must match Ireland’s human rights obligations

25 June, 2013 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD


Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has today called on all Government Ministers to support the demand for an open, accountable, transparent non-adversarial redress scheme on a statutory footing with an appeals process for the surviving women of the Magdalene Laundries.

The cabinet is expected to discuss Mr Justice Quirke’s recommendations for the Magdalene Fund redress scheme when it meets today.

The Dublin Central TD said;

“It is deeply disappointing that yet again we have had so called government sources leaking the contents of Mr Justice Quirke’s recommendations to the media in advance of the report being made public. Media leaks cause the surviving women unnecessary distress and hurt. Let’s not forget that for years the state repeatedly denied its culpability in the wrongful incarceration and abuse of these women, so trust is naturally in short supply.

“Last week I wrote to all members of the cabinet asking that they consider the concerns raised by UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) with the Minister for Justice regarding the shortfalls of the Inter-Departmental Committee Report into the Magdalene Laundries, and the recommendation of the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) that a redress mechanism for survivors of the Magdalene Laundries should provide for individual financial compensation.

“Time is running out for the surviving women. Most are elderly and many are unwell. We know of at least two women who have died since the Taoiseach’s apology earlier this year. Women incarcerated in Laundries not included in the Inter-Departmental Committee report continue to be excluded by government from redress. No helpline has been set up to support and assist the women.

“Sinn Féin is calling on Government Ministers to provide for an open, accountable, transparent non-adversarial redress scheme on a statutory footing with an appeals process for the surviving women. The women must also be compensated for lost wages, their full pension entitlements, and immediate health and housing needs must be provided for.

“Ultimately the government’s redress mechanism must match Ireland’s human rights obligations. Righting the wrongs of the past is not enough; the state must learn the necessary lessons to ensure these wrongs are not repeated. I make particular reference to direct provision services, psychiatric care, and youth detention centres.”

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