Magdalen Laundries Issues

Question No. 235 answered with Question No. 231.

Questions (234)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

234. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reasons the Magdalen laundry review terms of reference refer only to women who are now resident in Britain; and if surviving women who now reside outside Ireland and Britain will be able to access the Magdalen laundry fund. [10703/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The terms of reference for Mr. Justice Quirke's work extends to women who were admitted to and worked in a Magdalen Laundry and in the Laundry operated in the Training Centre at Stanhope Street Dublin. The terms of reference do not refer to where these women are resident now.

The terms of reference specify an examination by Justice Quirke of the effect, if any, of the making of an ex gratia payment to a person who is resident in the UK and how best the making of such payment should be structured so as not to adversely affect their existing entitlements to benefits and supports.

The largest group of women who have been in a Magdalen Laundry represented by an organisation are those affiliated to the Irish Survivors Advice and Support Network (ISASN) in Britain and are UK based. This fact has been reflected in the terms of reference which do not exclude women living in other countries.

Question No. 235 answered with Question No. 231.

Magdalen Laundries Issues

Questions (236)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

236. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the formal action he will take to ensure the religious orders are brought to account for their role in the Magdalene laundries abuse. [10705/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

If the Deputy is aware of any incidents of abuse which indicate that a criminal offence has been committed these should be reported to the Gardaí who will ensure that the matter is fully investigated and prosecutions, where warranted, ensue. The Deputy will be aware that there is no statute of limitations in this jurisdiction for serious criminal offences.

Magdalen Laundries Issues

Questions (237)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

237. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will include the survivors of Bethany Home in the Magdalen laundry redress mechanism noting the principle of due diligence which provides that where State authorities knew of actual human rights abuses by the non-State sector, as recorded, for example, during State inspections of Bethany under the Registration of Maternity Homes Act, and failed to take appropriate steps to prevent the violations or investigate and punish the perpetrators then the State bears the responsibility for the violations. [10706/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

One of the original charities associated with Bethany Home was established to assist women recently released from prison, hence my Department's interest. While we do not have full details, we have reason to believe that women prisoners on release from prison did go there. It would also appear that women convicted of criminal offences might agree to reside there as an alternative to a term of imprisonment. It was designated under section 108 of the Children Act 1908 for female, non Catholic children under 17 years, charged with criminal offences who might be remanded there or ordered to be kept there for a period not exceeding one month.

Bethany Home was not a prison and did not have any of the restrictions normally associated with such an institution. From the 1930s it was based in a house in Orwell Road, Rathgar. My Department has not received any complaints regarding the treatment of any of the females who were there and who had links with the criminal justice system. If the Deputy has any evidence of specific abuses with relation to this category of people, I would be happy to receive it.

While this aspect of their work with women from the criminal justice system continued after the establishment of the Bethany Home, it would appear that the vast majority of its work (over 90%) related to maternity cases and acting as a home for infants up to three years old. There were a significant number of Mother and Baby homes including the Bethany Home operating in the State at the time.

However Mother and Baby homes do not have any of the characteristics associated with a Magdalen Laundry - that is women working without pay in a laundry in an enclosed institution. Magdalen Laundries did not accept pregnant women or young infants. I understand that the Bethany Survivors Group do not argue that their situation is identical to that of the Magdalen Laundry survivors.

The question of the inspection of maternity homes falls to the Department of Health.

If the Deputy has any information that criminal offences having been committed, she should report the matter to the Gardaí for investigation.