Belfast Telegraph

Magdalene 'abuse' probe announced

The Government is to investigate the state's role in alleged abuse at the Magdalene laundries.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter announced he would also meet the religious congregations who ran the notorious workhouses to secure any remaining records on residents.

Mr Shatter said these documents should be handed over to the surviving single mothers who were detained in the homes at the hands of the courts and their own families.

The religious orders agreed to co-operate with any inquiry last week, after an international torture watchdog urged a statutory inquiry, prosecutions where necessary and victim compensation.

But Mr Shatter has stopped short of a full inquiry for now, saying there was a need to fully establish the facts and circumstances relating to the Magdalene laundries "as a first step".

He said the Cabinet has agreed to set up an inter-departmental committee, with an independent chairman, to clarify any state interaction with the residential workhouses.

Both Mr Shatter and equality minister Kathleen Lynch are to meet the religious congregations involved as well as former residents groups.

The justice minister signalled he wants to secure all remaining records as well as information on women taken into the Catholic Church-run homes who were still in the care of the orders.

Mr Shatter said there would also be talks about a "restorative and reconciliation process" and what shape that could take.

A search is already under way for an independent chairman for the inter-departmental committee.

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