The laundry in the Industrial School in Newtownforbes was not included in last week’s report on the Magdalene Laundries because it was classed as an industrial school - not a laundry. Following the publication of the McAleese report last week, it emerged that submissions were made to the committee compiling the report to include four more laundries: St Mary’s Stanhope Street in Dublin, Summerhill in Wexford, Bethany Home in Rathgar, Dublin and Newtownforbes Industrial School.
However these submissions were not accepted by the Government.
In a statement to the Longford Leader this week, the Department of Justice outlined the reasons why Newtownforbes was omitted from the report.
“Newtownforbes was not included in the McAleese report because it was an industrial school with a laundry attached, not a Magdalene Laundry”.
“It [Newtownforbes] was however, included in the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse - the Ryan Report,” a spokesperson added.
“All former residents of that school who suffered abuse in the school were entitled to take their case to the Redress Board in order to seek compensation.”
The revelations come in the aftermath of the interdepartmental report which was published last week, and examined State involvement in the laundries. It covered a broad range of areas, including the routes by which women entered the Magdalene Laundries, inspection of the Magdalene Laundries as workplaces covered by the Factories Acts, financial assistance to the Magdalene Laundries, detailed statistical analysis and much more.
Speaking to the Leader, British Labour Councillor and member of the Irish Council of State, Sally Mulready said that the report was “a huge breakthrough in Irish social care history”.
“Irish society in those days was very cruel and very unjust to the poor,” she added. “The shame and remorse over this, should be felt by us all – not just by institutions or the State. Some of the revelations in the report were a surprise – for example, a lot of women were referred to the laundries by their families and the average age of the women was a lot older that I had thought.”
Ms Mulready, whose father hails from Granard, was one of the first people to initiate justice for the women from the Magdalene Laundries after she heard their stories through her work in London.
“We now want a fast, fair and just settlement for these women,” she continued.
“Compensation and an apology are now what is needed – we need a sensitive and informed apology from Taoiseach Enda Kenny. This has been a big week for the women and we are meeting with them next Friday; we will examine the report, talk through the details and decide what the next step will be.”