In the wake of the Government’s decision to launch a limited investigation into the treatment of women and girls in the Magdalene laundries, Galway city councillor Padraig Conneely has welcomed the move, calling for a “prompt and speedy resolution” to be found.
“The Government’s interdepartmental committee can bring closure to the many women who spent several years in the Magdalene Laundry in Galway... This is the first crucial step in restoring their dignity and sense of citizenship,” said Cllr Conneely, who added that he had been proud to have taken part, in his role as mayor, in the unveiling in April 2009 of a statue in memory of the Magdalene women on Forster Street, opposite the site of the old Magdalene Laundry.
Cllr Conneely concluded: “At the unveiling of that statue I said that it would help ‘shine a light’ on the ‘dark history of that time in Galway’. I hope a prompt and speedy resolution can now be found for the Magdalene women.”
In a statement from the Department of Justice on Tuesday, it was announced that the Government “has considered the circumstances of the women and girls who resided in the Magdalene Laundries” and that it welcomed the recent statement 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 statement goes on to say that establishing the “true facts and circumstances relating to the Magdalene Laundries” was a first step. As part of the investigation an interdepartmental 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.
A second step will be for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter and the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People Kathleen Lynch to meet with the religious congregations and the groups representing former residents of the Magdalene Laundries.