The Irish Human Rights Commission has called on the government to establish a comprehensive redress scheme for survivors of the Magdalene Laundries.

The agency says the scheme should be established as the State failed to protect the human rights of the women. They also called on the State to strengthen protections for people with disabilities living in institutions.

The scheme would  provide individual compensation, restitution and rehabilitation for the women in accordance with the State’s human rights obligations.

Speaking at the Launch of the Report, Professor Siobhán Mullally, IHRC Commissioner said:

“The Report of the Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) confirms extensive State involvement in Magdalen Laundries but it falls short of drawing any conclusions on the human rights obligations of the State. To fill that gap, the IHRC has reviewed the findings of the IDC report against a range of human rights standards.

“We conclude from the evidence available that the human rights of girls and women placed in the Laundries have not been fully respected. The State acted wrongfully in failing to protect these women by not putting in place adequate mechanisms to prevent such violations, and by failing to respond to their allegations over a protracted period. Credible allegations of abuse should always be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated.”

Professor Mullally continued: “The IHRC is calling for a comprehensive redress scheme that provides individual compensation for the impact of the human rights violations which occurred to each individual woman who resided in the Laundries.”

Key recommendations for the State include

-Put in place a comprehensive redress scheme that provides individual compensation for the impact of the human rights violations as experienced by women who resided in Magdalen Laundries; 

-Implement measures which as far as possible guarantee that surviving women who resided in Magdalen Laundries have the restitution and rehabilitation they require for those violations;

-By way of restitution, identify and provide to the women concerned lost wages and any pension or social protection benefits arising from carrying out forced or compulsory labour which occurred on an unpaid and unacknowledged basis;

-Provide appropriate rehabilitation interventions including housing; health and welfare; education and; assistance to deal with the psychological effects of the time spent in the Magdalen Laundries;

-Scrutinise its interactions with non-State actors to ensure that its regulatory and oversight functions are sufficiently robust to prevent human rights breaches arising, and if any such allegations are made, that a competent statutory body be in a position to investigate them thoroughly and effectively and provide redress where merited;

-Ensure that all credible allegations of abuse, which would if proved, entail a breach of the State’s human rights obligations, are promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated;

-End the practice of caring for people with intellectual disabilities in psychiatric institutions;

-Immediately introduce the compulsory inspection and licensing of residential centres for people with disabilities by the Health Information and Quality Authority;

-Introduce a system for the provision of information and tracing services to adopted people, including those who were informally adopted in the past;

-Amend the Local Authority (Sanitary services) Act 1948, to ensure a rigorous system of accountability and oversight in relation to the granting of licenses for exhumations and cremations.

Girls put to work in a Magdalene Laundry in IrelandGoogle Images