Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) welcomes Taoiseach’s comments on Reparations, but calls for immediate action

Justice for Magdalenes (JFM), the survivor advocacy group, welcomes Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s comments during yesterday’s Dáil Debate on “Church-State Dialogue.” We are pleased to learn that the government is considering our proposed “Restorative Justice and Reparations” scheme. We learned on March 23rd that the Minister for Justice is considering a draft submission to the government prepared by the Department of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General. We look forward to the outcome of these deliberations.

But, we also urge the government to act without further delay and thereby bring some measure of restorative justice to a population of ageing and elderly survivors of institutional abuse.

JFM is concerned by the tenor of Mr. Kenny’s comments with regard to state complicity, and we point out that his remarks limiting complicity to the role of the courts in placing women “on remand” and “on probation” at these institutions echo, regrettably, statements by former Ministers Batt O’Keeffe and Dermot Ahern, and former Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

The Irish Human Rights Commission’s Assessment of human rights violations in the laundries establishes the state’s complicity in the abuse of all women and girls at these institutions, beyond those referred through the involvement of the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health or referred there by the courts. The IHRC recommended that the government establish a statutory inquiry to investigate human rights violations in the laundries. Six months later, survivors are still waiting for their political leaders to respond to that recommendation.

As the IHRC report makes clear, the state failed to regulate or inspect these institutions and thus failed to prevent “arbitrary detention,” “forced and compulsory labour,” and “servitude” for all of the women therein. It failed to act on the knowledge that there were children exploited in the laundries. It failed to put a stop to the transfer of women from state licensed Mother and Baby Homes to the unregulated laundries. It failed to insist on the insertion of a “fair wage” clause in Department of Defense contracts with the laundries. It failed to forbid members of the Garda Síochána from bringing women to the laundries and/or returning women who escaped despite there never being a statutory basis for their doing so. And, it failed to enforce the statutory obligation for employers to withhold and make contributions to the contributory pension scheme for all employees.

JFM has made a submission to the UN Committee against Torture in relation to Ireland being examined later this month, on May 23rd and 24th. Authored by Maeve O’Rourke (UCD B.C.L., Harvard LL.M., and Harvard Law School 2010 Global Human Rights Fellow), our submission draws attention to Ireland’s continuing violations of its legal duties under the Convention Against Torture promptly and impartially to investigate allegations of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and to ensure redress for the victims of such treatment. Maeve O’Rourke will present JFM’s case as part of the NGO briefing session with the Committee on Friday, May 20th.


2 Responses to “Justice for Magdalenes calls for immediate action.”

  1. robert says:

    You know the most pitiful thought of the last 20 years is that people have no unity.
    It has taken me 54 years to come to realize there is no such thing as civilization.
    who holds the words
    “ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE” answer, the government
    The truth is today
    “YOU ARE ALONE” divided and concurred
    These women deserve justice and now they are of age and of need.

  2. i hope that all goes well for these ladies now. After all these years its time to share the money made thanks to thier hard labour.

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