Magdalene Laundries*

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The Magdalene Laundries were institutions where orphans, unmarried mothers or destitute women were sent by state industrial schools, courts, hospitals, mother and baby services, and clergy. These women were essentially unpaid slaves whose jobs included washing the dirty linen of hotels, department stores, hospitals and various government departments. The windows of the Magdalene Laundries were often covered with bars and the doors were locked. When women tried to escape, they were found and returned by the Gardai. It is alleged that some women in the Magdalene Laundry survivors suffered terrible abuse. It is alleged that some women were subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse. The last of the Magdalene Laundries closed in 1996.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture criticised Ireland’s prison like conditions in the Magdalene Laundries and accused the state of failing to protect women so confined to “prisons”.

The Government is considering what Redress Scheme should be set up for the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries. A Redress schemes has previously been set up by the Irish government for people who had suffered abuse in Residential institutions.

The scheme was run by the Residential Institutions Redress Board which was set up under the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 to make fair and reasonable awards to persons who, as children, were abused while resident in industrial schools, reformatories and other institutions subject to state regulation or inspection.

David Walley + Co Solicitors have represented many clients in relation to the Residential Institutions Redress Board scheme. We have extensive experience advising clients in a sensitive and compassionate way whilst also striving to obtain some form of justice for the victims of this terrible abuse.

If you are a survivor of the Magdalene Laundries, we would be delighted to speak with you and advise you of your options.

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