Mr. Batt O’Keeffe, T.D., then Minister for Education and Science, rejected JFM’s proposal for an apology and distinct redress scheme on 4 September 2009. He claimed:
• The state is only liable for children transferred from residential institutions
• The laundries were privately owned and operated
• The state did not refer individuals nor was it complicit in referring individuals to the laundries
JFM contends that the state was always complicit in the laundries’ operation. Moreover, this complicity, along with the state’s omission of due diligence to regulate or inspect the laundries, breached the Magdalene women’s constitutional and human rights.
JFM asserts that the Irish state:
• was aware of the nature and function of the Magdalene laundries
• was aware that there was no statutory basis for the courts’ use of the laundries
• enacted legislation to enable the use of one laundry as a remand home
• was aware that children and adolescent girls were confined in the laundries as late as 1970
• maintained a “special provision” whereby women giving birth to a second child outside marriage at a Mother-and-Baby could be transferred directly to a Magdalene laundry
• paid capitation grants to Magdalene laundries for the confinement of “problem girls”
• never inspected, licensed or certified these home as “Approved” institutions
• has yet to produce records for the women it referred to the laundries
• refuses to admit its complicity in referring women to the Magdalene laundries
• refuses to acknowledge its failure to protect women’s constitutional rights
• refuses to apologize for its role in referring women to the laundries and therefore impedes “restorative justice” for this population of institutional survivors.
JFM met with Cardinal Sean Brady in June 2010 as part of their campaign to Engage the Catholic Religious Congregations. He characterised the presentation as “fair and balanced,” and, as reported by The Irish Times, he encouraged JFM to “continue its efforts to establish dialogue and a process of justice and healing for all concerned.”
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