Joined up thinking for the Irish Left
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Spirit of Contradiction >>
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005
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Public Inquiry >>
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NAMA Wine Lake >>
Report on Magdalene Laundries published
The government inter-departmental committee setup to establish the facts into State involvement of the Magdalen Laundries was published on Tues 5th Feb in an attempt to deal with the issue for once and for all. What the findings show is that there was significant involvement and the laundries seem to have been used by a variety of state institutions for dealing for young women in terms of the justice system and social services that the state was unable or unwilling to deal with and the interface with reformatories and industrial schools.
In the aftermath the government has only offered a partial apology to the victims and they feel this is not good enough
The government report into the Magdalene laundries was finally published last Tues 5th Feb and has found the State was directly involved in the running of them whereby over 25% of referrals were made or aided by the State.
The report shows how the laundries were run by by four separate religious orders of nuns as a form of semi-slave labour institutes where the inmates were largely young girls and women who were placed there for various reasons from being orphans, foster kids, homeless women, unmarried mothers, to those involved in petty crime
The report covers 10 of the laundries for the period from 1922 to 1996 although the worst excesses were obviously in the periods when the church had greater influence on the affairs and public life of the state.
The committee appeared to set as its objects the level of state involvement covering how girls and women entered the laundries, how long they stayed there, how they left and the level of state funding, assistance and contracts given to the Laundries.
Some of the findings of the committee, largely determined through statistical analysis were that:
There were The actual number of known admissions was 14,607
Routes of Entry were:
Average age at entry: 23 yrs
median age 20
youngest entrant 9
Oldest entrant 89
Median duration of stay 27.6 weeks (approximately 7 months)
And the duration of stay broken down as follows:
Less than 3 months 35.6%
Less than 6 months 47.4%
Less than 1 year 61.0%
Less than 18 months 68.0%
Less than 2 years 73.2%
Less than 3 years 79.0%
Less than 5 years 85.6%
Less than 18 months 68.0%
Both parents alive: 12.5%
Mother dead, father alive: 8.5%
Father dead, mother alive: 11.6%
Both parents dead: 13.5%
Deaths occurring in the Laundries from 1922: 879
Routes of Entry were:
Referrals of girls or women from the criminal justice system, (approximately 8.1% of known routes of entry)
Referrals from Industrial and Reformatory Schools (approximately 7.8% of known routes of entry);
Referrals from the health and social services sector (approximately 6.8% of known routes of entry),
Referrals from Mother and Baby Homes (approximately 3.9% of known routes of entry).
Overall though there seemed to be a complex and ad-hoc arrangement whereby women were sent from the Courts, Reformatory Schools, Industrial schools and so on. It seemed to act as some kind of alternative prison for women.
There were few ledgers recording who did business with the laundries but the limited data shows that contracts were with the Defense forces, Govt Departments, State funded hospitals, hotels, schools, hotels, schools, various private institutions and individuals
On finances one of the interesting findings relates to the Sean McDermott Street covering sales from 1960 to 1966 showed during this period state contracts were worth around 18%. The report expresses the sales in 2011 Euro terms so it is not clear how they calculations were made but the year sales averaged around €850,000.
It is difficult to determine whether this is a high figure or not because to run an institute like that today would easily cost that but it does raise the question as to where all the profits if any were flowing and what were the exact objectives of the laundries from the religious orders perspectives.
The full report can be found at:
And an executive summary can be found at: