Belfast Telegraph

Orders agree to aid workhouse probe

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has described a vow by religious congregations to co-operate with any inquiry into the Magdalene laundries as an important step.

The orders who ran the notorious workhouses agreed on Friday to participate in any investigation into the treatment of women and girls in the Catholic Church-run homes.

A statement issued on their behalf followed calls earlier this week by an international torture watchdog for a statutory inquiry, prosecutions where necessary and victim compensation.

Mr Shatter said the pledge by the religious congregations to co-operate, along with other reports and available information, will be considered by Cabinet.

"Their publicly expressed willingness to bring 'greater clarity, understanding, healing and justice in the interests of all the women involved' relating to their accommodation and treatment in the Magdalene laundries is an important step forward," he said.

Mr Shatter and other Cabinet ministers are to examine and formally reply to the conclusions of the UN Committee Against Torture report.

The Magdalene Laundries were operated by four Catholic religious orders, The Sisters of Mercy, The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, The Sisters of Charity, and The Good Shepherd Sisters.

They were institutions for single mothers detained through the courts or often moved in by their family or clergy after their child was adopted.

The last laundry, at Sean McDermott Street in Dublin, closed in 1996.

The UN committee said it was gravely concerned by the failure of the state to "protect girls and women who were involuntarily confined between 1922 and 1996 in the Magdalene Laundries".

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