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Justice Minister needs to make public statement on redress delay for Magdalene women

31 October, 2013 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald TD has today called on the Minister for Justice and Equality to make a public statement on the delay in issuing redress payments and promised supports to the surviving women of the Magdalene Laundries.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“Over eight months have now passed since the Taoiseach apologised to the surviving women of the Magdalene Laundries, yet not a single redress payment has been made. In fact none of the vital supports provided for in Mr Justice Quirke’s report have been delivered on.

“Week after week my office receives phone calls from surviving women desperately upset and confused by the government’s failure to provide the redress and supports promised months ago. This failure is set against the government’s recent denial of widespread brutality and forced detention in the Laundries in response to very serious concerns raised by the United Nations Committee Against Torture with the state.

“Minister Shatter is hiding behind yet another report that he says has yet to be signed off on by cabinet. For these elderly women who were so badly treated under the states watch, as recognised by the taoiseach earlier this year, time is ticking. We know of at least two women who have since passed away and others who are living in very poor circumstances. 

“Let’s also not forget that the redress scheme as announced by the government is limited to a small number of laundries considered by the inter-Departmental report into the states involvement in the Magdalene Laundries. This same report was not comprehensive and as the government recently admitted had no remit to investigate or make determinations about allegations of torture or any other criminal offence. 

“Just this week the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva added its name to the call for an independent investigation into the treatment of women held in the Magdalene laundries. It is clear that such an investigation would not delay the payments or supports for the surviving women of the 11 institutions covered by the redress fund. We know of other laundries, not included in the 2012 report, where women and girls were incarcerated and suffered ill treatment. 

“The Minister for Justice and Equality needs to make a public statement on the current delay in progressing the promised redress scheme, and he also needs to give a firm commitment as to when the women will start receiving their payments and supports as provided for in the Quirke recommendations.” 

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