Press Releases

2017 PRESS RELEASES

3rd March 2017: Sixth annual Flowers for Magdalenes events to take place on March 5th
JFMR calls for active memorialisation in the midst of further destruction of Magdalene history Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) is calling on members of the public to visit Magdalene graves this weekend and lay a flower to honour the women who lived and died behind convent walls.  On Sunday, March 5th the sixth annual Flowers for Magdalenes events will take place around the country in all cities and towns where there were Magdalene Laundries. At least 1,663 former Magdalene women are buried in cemeteries in Ireland, many of whom are in unmarked graves.

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15th February 2017: State’s systemic avoidance of taking responsibility for ‘dark secrets’ criticised again in Geneva
Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) and Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) welcome the attention given once again by a UN Committee to the Irish government’s ongoing failure to adequately investigate human rights abuses within Magdalene Laundries and within the adoption system at large. Both groups furnished detailed reports to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at the end of January.

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26th January 2017: High Court Challenge to Magdalene Redress Scheme Reveals Department of Justice Being Investigated by Ombudsman
A High Court challenge to the refusal by the Department of Justice to grant redress to women exploited as children in Magdalene Laundries today revealed that the Department of Justice had failed to disclose to the Court a pending investigation by the Ombudsman into the Department’s administration of the State’s redress scheme.

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2016 PRESS RELEASES

11th November 2016: Justice for Magdalenes Research statement on proposed development at Donnybrook 
Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) notes the Dublin City Council (DCC) Conservation Office’s recommendation to refuse planning permission for the proposed development at the former Magdalene Laundry operated by the Religious Sisters of Charity at Donnybrook. JFMR concurs with DCC’s concerns that the proposed development ‘has not given sufficient weight to the cultural, historical and conservation significance of the site’ and we welcome the Council’s request that the applicant ‘to clarify if there are any remaining artifacts within these extant buildings which may be of interest to the general public considering [the site’s] historical and social past’. However, we are concerned that thus far, DCC does not appear to have facilitated meaningful and inclusive consultation with Magdalene survivors and family members. We are also disappointed that DCC’s concerns appear to focus predominantly on historic preservation and aesthetics, with insufficient regard for the women and girls who lived and died in Donnybrook Magdalene Laundry.

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March 2016: JFMR Statement Re Donnybrook Magdalene Laundry
In this decade of commemorations the destruction of Magdalene Institutions continues – in the first weeks of 2016 the Magdalene in New Ross was demolished, and now it appears the site in Donnybrook is to make way for development. The destruction continues in spite of Judge John Quirke recommending that the Government’s Magdalen Ex Gratia Scheme Redress Scheme include commemoration of our painful history. There has been no movement on this aspect of the Scheme to date. The destruction continues despite the fact that over half of the €58 million fund allocated to Magdalene Scheme is still available: funds which might be put forward to carry out an ’independent and thorough investigation‘ as called for by the Irish Human Rights Commission and the UN so that we might properly record the history – and ensure that the former Magdalene women who lie in unmarked graves get a decent burial.

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1st March 2016: JFM Research calls on public to visit Magdalene graves this weekend
This weekend, on Sunday March 6th the fifth annual Flowers for Magdalenes events will take place around the country in all cities and towns where there were Magdalene Laundries. Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) is calling on members of the public to visit Magdalene graves and lay a flower to honour the women who lived and died behind convent walls.

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2015 Press Releases

14 July 2015: JFM Research says Magdalene healthcare provisions are a betrayal of survivors’ trust
Magdalene survivors have provided Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) with copies of the Guide to Health Services under the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015. The services outlined in this document merely replicate the ordinary medical card (which 90% of survivors already have). Once again, the government’s action represents a serious betrayal of survivors’ trust.

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8 June 2015: Justice for Magdalenes Presentation to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Justice for Magdalenes Research today told the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that the Irish State is refusing to provide the full healthcare package to Magdalene women that it promised in 2013. Following an apology by An Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny for the Irish State’s involvement with the punitive Magdalene institutions the Irish government established an ex gratia scheme to Magdalene survivors and so far over 500 have applied provide financial support, healthcare and other measures to survivors, in exchange for their agreement not to sue the State.

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19 February 2015: JFM Research publishes critique of McAleese Report
Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) has published the first in a series of critiques of the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries (IDC Report). Published to coincide with the second anniversary of the State apology, JFMR’s critique discusses issues around death, the institutionalisation of former Magdalene women, as well as JFMR’s research on Magdalene graves and duration of stay.

Instead of answering questions on the serious issues surrounding deaths in Magdalene Laundries, Chapter 16 of the IDC Report gives exclusive attention to the religious orders’ version of events and completely ignores survivor testimony, as well as substantial submissions from JFM raising concerns about the funeral and burial practices in Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries.

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19 January 2015: Advocacy and rights groups join in criticising government’s Magdalene Bill as unacceptable, unfair and full of broken promises to survivors
Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR), the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Amnesty International (Ireland) today called on the government to honour the promise it made to Magdalene survivors in June 2013, to implement all of Mr Justice John Quirke’s recommendations for a Magdalene restorative justice scheme.

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9 January 2015: JFM Research deeply disappointed at exclusion of Magdalene Laundries from Inquiry
Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) is greatly concerned that the Magdalene Laundries have been excluded from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. The Mother and Baby homes and Magdalene Laundries were both integral parts of Ireland’s architecture of containment of ‘problem’ women and girls. As JFMR has previously pointed out to Minister Reilly, the McAleese inquiry did not investigate or make findings about abuse or lines of responsibility for abuse in the Magdalene Laundries. Furthermore, the McAleese Report does not contain a single word from the 796 pages of testimony submitted by JFM and it failed to adequately examine issues relating to deaths and burials. Serious doubt has been cast on the accuracy of the McAleese Report’s assertions regarding duration of stay.

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2014 PRESS RELEASES

30 June 2014: Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) and Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) Make Joint Submission to Terms of Reference for Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes
Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) and Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) today submitted a comprehensive briefing to inform the terms of reference for the Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes. ARA and JFMR, who, along with representatives of Irish First Mothers and historian Sean Lucey, met with Minister Flanagan on Wednesday, 25 June 2014, and suggested that the Commission of Investigation should focus on the issue of children born out of wedlock in Ireland since 1922 rather than institutions per se. Communicated in that meeting and in the joint submission is the understanding that this issue gives rise to six distinct fields of inquiry:

  1. Infant mortality rates;
  2. Adoption practices;
  3. Vaccine trials and medical experimentation;
  4. Forced labour and incarceration of unmarried girls and women who gave birth to babies or were seen to be ‘at risk’ of becoming mothers;
  5. Conditions in the institutions, including neglect, denial of adequate medical care and cruel punishment of unmarried mothers and their infants and children; and
  6. Burials of unmarried mothers and their children who remained in recarceral institutions.

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9 June 2014: Statutory investigation into mother and baby homes should extend to Magdalene Laundries
Justice for Magdalenes Research welcomes the announcement of a statutory investigation into the full extent of the abuses perpetrated in Ireland’s mother and baby homes. We stand in solidarity with all women and children who spent time in these institutions and with their family members, many of whom are still searching for each other.

We call on the government to include the Magdalene Laundries in the terms of reference of this statutory investigation. The need is clear: there was significant traffic between mother and baby homes and Magdalene Laundries; the McAleese Committee did not retain records received from the religious orders responsible for operating the Magdalene Laundries; the McAleese Committee’s terms of reference did not allow it to investigate individual complaints of abuse or examine fully the religious orders’ financial records; and all religious orders responsible for the Magdalene Laundries have refused to apologise or provide compensation.

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28 May 2014: JFM Research welcomes the news that the State intends to preserve all material related to the Ryan Commission and the Residential Institutions Redress Board
JFM Research welcomes the news that the State is introducing legislation to preserve all material related to the Ryan Commission and the Residential Institutions Redress Board (http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/abuse-documents-not-to-be-destroyed-despite-assurances-1.1811692).

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19 February 2014: JFM Research publishes Supplementary Guide to Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme
JFM Research has published a Supplementary Survivor Guide to the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme. In July 2013, in response to the difficulty expressed by some survivors in understanding their entitlements under the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme (referred to as the ‘Ex-Gratia Scheme’), JFM Research published a Survivor Guide to the Restorative Justice Scheme to provide guidance and inform, empower and enable survivors.

Unfortunately, some survivors have continued to express confusion and distress in navigating the Scheme. With this in mind therefore, this Supplementary Guide represents a response to ongoing concerns JFM Research has with the Ex Gratia scheme, many of which are laid out in an opinion piece in today’s Irish Examiner.

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5 February 2014: JFM Research welcomes UNCAT list of issues, citing grave concerns about Magdalene Scheme
JFM Research welcomes the UN Report on the Holy See and points out that the Catholic church and the four religious orders that ran Magdalene Laundries in Ireland (Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Mercy, Good Shepherd Sisters, Sisters of our Lady of Charity) HAVE refused to accept unanimous survivor testimony that they were imprisoned and subjected to forced labour and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. None of the orders have offered an apology to Magdalene survivors, nor have they contributed to the compensation fund. The Catholic Church has not made any attempt to instigate an internal investigation into Magdalene abuse, nor has it held anyone accountable for what happened. Moreover, the State has allowed the church to continue to operate in secrecy, with the religious orders insisting that records submitted to the McAleese Committee should be returned and copies destroyed.

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2013 PRESS RELEASES

28 November 2013: JFM Research welcomes UNCAT list of issues, citing grave concerns about Magdalene Scheme
Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFM Research) welcomes the publication of the UN Committee Against Torture’s (UNCAT) ‘List of Issues’ for Ireland’s forthcoming examination in 2015. In particular, we consider significant the strong signal of the Committee’s ongoing concerns with the government’s response to its earlier recommendation on the Magdalene Laundries (June 2011). That recommendation called for a ‘prompt, thorough and independent investigation’ and it underscored the State’s obligation to ensure survivors obtain redress. That these concerns, and others related to the McAleese and Quirke Reports, are foregrounded once again in today’s list of issues draws attention to continuing failures on the part of the Irish government.

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07 November 2013: JFM Research welcomes progress on Magdalene Scheme, but raises concerns about accuracy of McAleese Report
Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFM Research) welcomes the news that the State is committed to ensuring that Magdalene survivors receive their lump sum entitlements in a 4 to 6 week window. We are concerned, however that the State is not yet ready to deliver on the promise of pensions and health care benefits, which await the passage of new legislation. It is now over four months since the government accepted Justice Quirke’s Scheme in principle. We question why the necessary legislation is not already in place to facilitate these additional benefits.

JFM Research remains concerned for those survivors for whom records, including duration of stay records, are not available. The McAleese Report contends in Chapter 8 that duration of stay records are available in only 42% of known admissions. Survivors for whom records indicating duration of stay no longer exists must not be discriminated against in obtaining/receiving redress and other entitlements.

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05 July 2013: JFM Research publishes Survivor Guide to Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme
Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFM Research), the survivor advocacy group, has published a Survivor Guide to the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme, which aims to assist survivors in understanding their entitlements under the Scheme developed by Mr Justice John Quirke and announced by the government on 26th June.

In a personal capacity, the members of JFM Research have been assisting the 40 survivors in contact with us since JFM exited the political arena in May 2013. Some survivors have expressed difficulty in understanding their entitlements under the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme and have sought assistance with their applications. Therefore JFM Research has compiled this Guide to inform, empower and enable survivors and provide guidance in filling out the application form for the Scheme for those who are interested in availing of it.

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18 June 2013: JFM Research welcomes call for immediate redress for Magdalene women based on human rights abuses
Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFM), welcomes the publication today of the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) “Follow-up Report on State Involvement with Magdalen Laundries” which gives a detailed overview of the “systemic human rights failings” on the part of the Irish State in relation to the human rights abuses suffered by the girls and women of the Magdalene Laundries. The IHRC Report says that it is “difficult to discern” why the State repeatedly denied its involvement in the Laundries given the material that was available to it in Government Departments but that “the State can be in no doubt that it acted wrongfully”.

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17 May 2013: Justice for Magdalenes Ends its Political Campaign
Justice for Magdalenes (JFM), the survivor advocacy group, is announcing the end of its political campaign, begun in June 2009.

As outlined in JFM’s Public Disclosure, the political campaign had twin objectives, namely:
(i) to bring about an official apology from the Irish State, and
(ii) the establishment of a compensation scheme for all Magdalene survivors.

And, as our Public Disclosure explains, “[o]nce JFM achieves these objectives, the door will be open to every survivor and/or her family members and/or other groups representing Magdalene survivors to pursue their own claim for redress.”

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