Jun 142011
 

The government has issued the following statement on the Magdalene Laundries.

The Government today considered the circumstances of the women and girls who resided in the Magdalene Laundries.  The Government welcomed the statement made last week by CORI on behalf of the four congregations, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Religious Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of Mercy and the Good Shepherd Sisters who indicated their “willingness” to “bring clarity, understanding, healing and justice in the interests of all the women involved”.  The Government believes it is essential to fully establish the true facts and circumstances relating to the Magdalene Laundries as a first step. The following has been agreed:

1. An Inter-departmental Committee will be established, chaired by an independent person, to clarify any State interaction with the Magdalene Laundries and to produce a narrative detailing such interaction.

2. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD and the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, Kathleen Lynch TD are to meet with the religious congregations and the groups representing former residents of the Magdalene Laundries. Their discussions will include addressing the following matters;

a. The making available by the congregations of all records maintained by them with regard to the residents of the Magdalene Laundries to enable all available information about former residents to be shared with them and also made available for appropriate research purposes.

b. The provision of information concerning the number of persons currently residing with or in the care of the religious congregations who originally commenced such residence in the Magdalene Laundries  and who have remained in their care.

c. To discuss the putting in place of a restorative and reconciliation process and the structure that might be utilised to facilitate such process.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence together with the Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, will now be following up on this Government decision with the relevant parties. Consideration is being given to the appropriate independent person to appoint to chair the Inter-departmental Committee. It was agreed by government that an initial report should be made to Cabinet on the progress being made by the Inter-departmental Committee within 3 months of its
establishment.

This seems to be a very weak response from the minister, Alan Shatter, who in opposition spoke as follows on the Dáil record in 2009:

Does the Taoiseach intend to introduce legislation in the new year to amend the redress board legislation to extend it to those who suffered barbaric cruelty in the Magdalen laundries? The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform now has irrefutable evidence that this State and the courts colluded in sending young women to what were then known as the Magdalen asylums. They ended up in the Magdalen laundries and were treated appallingly. Some of them have never recovered from the manner in which they were treated and their lives have been permanently blighted. Initially in this House the Minister for Education and Science denied that the State had any involvement in this. There is now absolutely irrefutable evidence as a consequence of court records and files that have been examined in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform that the State was directly complicit in many women being placed in these totally inappropriate circumstances.

 

To his credit, Fianna Fáil TD Tom Kitt concurred with Shatter as follows:

Professor James Smith from Boston came here on Tuesday and I facilitated a meeting with him of an all-party group of Oireachtas Members. He has presented very strong evidence that the young women were routinely referred to various Magdalen asylums via the Irish court system. The Garda actually returned women who escaped from these laundry institutions even though these women should have been perfectly free to leave. Professor Smith met officials from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and got a very positive response. On the basis of this new evidence I ask the Taoiseach to look again at the need to address the case of the Magdalen laundries. The Government is following up on the recommendations of the Ryan report, but these people are being excluded. It is a matter of justice and principle.

Something seems to change in people when they assume ministerial office. I don’t know what the process is, but people seem to lose their humanity. I’m reminded of a similar instance as long ago as 1946. The famous Father Flanagan of Boystown visited Ireland and was appalled at the abuse inflicted on children locked up in religious-run institutions. When Justice Minister Gerry Boland was asked in the Dáil about Flanagan’s comments, he replied as follows:

I have a cutting from a paper which contains a statement to that effect. I was not disposed to take any notice of what Monsignor Flanagan said while he was in this country, because his statements were so exaggerated that I did not think people would attach any importance to them. When, however, on his return to America he continues to make use of statements of this kind, I feel it is time that somebody should reply … All I have got to say is that these schools are under the management of religious Orders, who are self-effacing people, and who do not require any commendation from me.

Thus spake Gerry Boland, the well-known patriot and republican.

It seems little has changed in 65 years. What happened to Alan Shatter’s former zeal for protecting human rights?  What exactly does this mean?

The Government welcomed the statement made last week by CORI on behalf of the four congregations, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Religious Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of Mercy and the Good Shepherd Sisters who indicated their “willingness” to “bring clarity, understanding, healing and justice in the interests of all the women involved”.

What about forcing them to cooperate whether they like it or not? Wouldn’t that be a mark of a mature democracy, given Shatter’s unequivocal question?

Does the Taoiseach intend to introduce legislation in the new year to amend the redress board legislation to extend it to those who suffered barbaric cruelty in the Magdalen laundries?

Barbaric cruelty, according to Shatter before he became a minister.

Let us hope that Shatter is a better man than Batt O Keeffe who, as minister for education, belittled the plight of the Magdalene slaves when he referred to them as employees.  This is despicable, but probably no more than one might expect from a minister of the worst government we have ever known.

I have always held considerable regard for Alan Shatter as a man and as a politician.  I still retain hope that he will show more respect for his fellow human beings.

Time will tell.

________________

See also Justice for the Magdalenes

  22 Responses to “Government Statement on Magdalene Laundries”

Comments (22)
  1.  

    The Catholic Church and the Religious Orders are pure evil

    They must have some power indeed if they can still silence elected representatives in this day and age

    What hold do they have on Irish politicians I wonder

  2.  

    I don’t know if these dwindling religious congregations have a ‘hold’ on Irish politicians. I’d guess that among current politicians there is a weary wariness about setting up another protracted and expensive tribunal. Tribunals have produced ghastly findings but have resulted in paltry ‘restorative’ actions of benefit to victims of abuse and neglect. Meanwhile, as many citizens shrug shoulders about lack of follow-up on the Ryan report and other reports, the proposed Las Vegas complex and model White House for rural Tipperary is made public. Will the politicians and the greater public put a foot down to that? Passivity enabled the institutional horrors to operate continually for decades in the past. Passivity still prevails and will enable institutional neglect of the aged and disabled to continue. Can anything shake us out of our passivity? In other countries there would be arson, lynchings and bloody murder on the streets if politicians and religious leaders were found out. Er…Berlusconi’s Italy being an exception.

  3.  

    Irishlight
    They were raised by catholic Parents, they went to catholic schools! There are many who walk the corridors of power in Leinster House who’s mentality is still utterly medieval.

  4.  

    Alan Shatter definitely was not raised by Catholic parents, nor did he go to Catholic schools. Therefore he ought to have no baggage.

  5.  

    Why are the Irish so apathetic and passive concerning the monstrous crimes committed against these women? Why are people not furious with the Government? It seems the religious will not be held to account for their monstrous crimes.

    Their assets will not be seized for enslaving these innocent women and the fact that they grew wealthy from it. What is also unbelievable is that all governments since the founding of the State stood back and allowed this to happen…Why is Diarmuid Martin and the ‘wounded healer’ Cardinal Brady not speaking out.?

  6.  

    Are there still women in the care of the Nuns? I honestly thought this all stopped years ago see point 2b from government statement.

    “b. The provision of information concerning the number of persons currently residing with or in the care of the religious congregations who originally commenced such residence in the Magdalene Laundries and who have remained in their care”.

    Also, Another thing confusing me is, were the women detained at the behest of their families or the courts? surely the courts didn’t sentence pregnant women to detention for the crime of being pregnant and not married.

  7.  

    Some people were detained as a condition of probation in the courts. Others were banished by their families, or on the word of some parish priest. Women were abducted and imprisoned for all sorts of ludicrous reasons, like being too friendly. Some people ended up there as orphans. This well is bottomless.

    I imagine there are some very elderly women still with the nuns because they were too damaged to lead an independent life.

  8.  

    Ignore the 2nd point on my last post- you already answered it in your original post when you quoted Tom Kitt agreeing with Alan Shatter

    “Professor James Smith from Boston came here on Tuesday and I facilitated a meeting with him of an all-party group of Oireachtas Members. He has presented very strong evidence that the young women were routinely referred to various Magdalen asylums via the Irish court system. The Garda actually returned women who escaped from these laundry institutions even though these women should have been perfectly free to leave”

    Jesus Wept…………………………………

  9.  

    It was the same when young boys escaped from the Christian Brothers’ prisons. Local farmers rounded them up and brought them back. There’s an excellent documentary called The Runners which is well worth a listen.

  10.  

    Adult women being sentenced to a life of slavery for falling pregnant outside marriage beggars belief – How the courts ever justified this is beyond me.

    I’m slightly too young to remember the laundries when they were operating and to be honest I always thought these women were handed over by their families. I didn’t believe the judicial system had anything to do with it until now.

    As for Alan Shatter and his ilk – They’re usually all mouth until the buck stops with them. I too hope he does the right thing, but I wont hold my breath

    And as for those CORI Cunts….Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  11.  

    You could say the whole goddam fucking nation was involved in it from the religious orders to the goverment the Gardai the public and in many cases the girls families.I remember hearing of cases where teenage girls parents would bring them there…because they were flirting with boys!!!…what a fucking retarded nation.I see a piece in a local paper today about a guy called Peter Tyrell who was an inmate of an industrial school and later a prisoner of the Nazis during world war two,his following statement written in the Nazi camp sums it all up..”Life here at Stalag 11B Fallingbostel is hard and unpleasant,yet it is heaven on earth in comparassion to my life at school in Ireland,where children were brutally tortured”.

  12.  

    Didn’t Peter Tyrrell subsequently take his own life by setting fire to himself?

  13.  

    I believe he did…it was just a reference to him today in the paper not the full story.Be worth checking out the rest of it.

  14.  

    Peter Tyrrell was a resident of ‘notorious’ Letterfrack indusrtial school from 1924- 1932. Obviously, the brutality and horrors he experienced had a profound affect on his life. It was Owen Sheehy Skeffington, a former Senator who encouraged Peter to write about his experiences.

    This was the early sixties. Ireland, being the dark, crazed asylum that it was then, was not interested in any criticism of the Industrial Gulags, so Peter’s story was ignored. Peter committed suicide in 1967 in Hampstead Heath, London by setting himself on fire.

    The manuscripts wern’t discovered until 2004 when they were found in Skeffington’s flat. ‘Founded on Fear’ by Peter Tyrrell was published in 2006. Peter Tyrrell was an extraordinary brave man and his book should be read. A statue should be erected to him in Galway.

  15.  

    Bock,more detail on Peter Tyrrell-

    http://www.thecnj.com/review/120706/books120706_01.html

    Bock, thanks for highlighting and not forgetting these important issues.

  16.  

    Is Christianity based on the tactics used by abusers? I’m no expert but I remember reading somewhere that successful abusers tell the abused they are shit and all problems are their fault and they have to try and be better people……………and carry on abusing whilst the abused stays and carries on being abused. Seems to fit our Church?

  17.  

    Sorry. Clarify that please. Whose church?

  18.  

    As I understand it, abuse seems to be based on undermining people’s self-esteem and making them fearful.

  19.  

    Bock,

    The Church relied on a culture of fear for centuries – outside the church you were going to burn in Hell (look at Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ for an example of how pervasive the thinking was). Should threats of Hell be of no avail, the clergy could always lean on your employer, your landlord, or anyone else who would make your life miserable. (Friel gives an insight into such clerical power in ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’). If a family committed a daughter to a laundry, it would surely have come through clerical intimidation? The role of the courts and Gardai demonstrates state complicity with medieval brutality.

  20.  

    What a country of shisters we are.

    The quote at the

    The Runners podcast mentioned above by Bock says it all. Crowd of sadists and evil people running the religous institutions which were ‘fed’ children by a dysfunctional and complicit Irish State.

    ‘All is takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’

    Looks like the same old shite from Shatter. a load of blather..

    Gawd, I.m sick

  21.  

    What a country of shisters we are.

    The quote at the

    The Runners podcast mentioned above by Bock says it all. Crowd of sadists and evil people running the religious institutions which were ‘fed’ children by a dysfunctional and complicit Irish State and its servants.

    ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’ (Edmund Burke)

    Looks like the same old shite from Shatter. a load of blather……

    Gawd, I.m sick

  22.  

    After all the publicity that has emerged over the past couple of decades
    and in light of the documented evidence of abuse you still see piles of
    cars outside the chapel when there is something going down. The flock
    to mass like flies round shit and I just don’t get it

    I can’t under stand why people in this day and age are still in awe of the
    church and I would go as far as saying that they must be mentally or
    morally retarded

    Any thoughts?

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