Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
422. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will establish a threshold for State interaction short of the interdepartmental committee’s final report to enable meaningful discussion to take place on an apology, redress and restorative justice as called for by both the Irish Human Rights Commission and the United Nations Committee Against Torture. [14049/12]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): The Deputy will be aware that the Government considered the circumstances of women and girls who resided in the Laundries at its meeting on 14 June, 2011. As a first step, the Government decided that it was essential to fully establish the true facts and circumstances relating to the Magdalen Laundries and a number of actions were agreed.
This included the setting up of an Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries, to clarify any State interaction, and to produce a narrative detailing such interaction. The Committee, under the independent chairmanship of Senator Martin McAleese, is making good progress and their final report is expected mid year. I welcome the progress that is being made and, in particular, I am pleased to tell the House that the Committee is continuing to receive full co-operation from all concerned including the religious orders and representative groups of women who were formerly resident in the Laundries.
In addition Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, Kathleen Lynch T.D. and I met with the religious congregations and the groups representing former residents of the Magdalene Institutions to discuss a number of issues. One of these was the question of facilitating a restorative and reconciliation process between individuals who had been in such institutions and the religious congregation responsible for the running of the institution.
I am conscious of the need to progress matters as quickly as possible. However, it is also important to emphasise that we are in a process which is seeking to fully establish the facts and it is still too early at this stage to predict what the outcomes might be.
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