Saturday 23 March 2019

Magdalene victims to sue

Survivors plan action against State or Church

Magdalene survivors Marina Gambold, Maureen Sullivan, Kathleen Legg, Mary Smith and Maureen Taylor arrive for their meeting at
the Department of Justice yesterday
Magdalene survivors Marina Gambold, Maureen Sullivan, Kathleen Legg, Mary Smith and Maureen Taylor arrive for their meeting at the Department of Justice yesterday

Stephen O'Farrell

A GROUP of Magdalene laundry abuse victims are to sue the State, the Catholic Church or both for the decades of mistreatment they suffered while in their care.

Five survivors of the infamous laundries met with senior officials from the Department of Justice yesterday and said afterwards that a class action or constitutional case was inevitable.

It was the first ever meeting between state representatives and Magdalene abuse victims, and follows numerous failed attempts by the women to tell government officials how they were treated while in the laundries.

Magdalene survivors were excluded from a state redress scheme, designed to compensate children who suffered institutional abuse, which was highlighted following the publication of the Ryan report.

But spokesman for the victims' group, Steven O'Riordan, told the Irish Independent last night that a redress scheme would not befit the abuse these women had suffered.

"They are not really interested in going down this route," said Mr O'Riordan. "It's a case of establishing who was largely responsible, either the Church or State or both, and proceeding with either a class action or constitutional case."

Advice

The group, who have been organised by the creators of the documentary 'The Forgotten Maggies', have already sought legal advice and said that a solicitors firm were ready to take them on. Their next step is to issue a letter to the religious orders who ran Magdalene laundries, requesting a similar meeting to yesterday's.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said: "The meeting lasted around 90 minutes and it was very constructive, helpful and informative."

The group were positive about how the meeting had gone, although one victim, Maureen Sullivan, said she was disappointed by the department's lack of knowledge on the subject. "I hope they are going to look into it as promised and if not we'll be back again to know why," Ms Sullivan said.

The women told how they were taken into the laundries having not committed any crime and treated worse than prisoners during their time inside.

Maureen Taylor (61) was admitted into High Park Convent in Drumcondra, Dublin, in 1964 after spending 16 years in an industrial school.

The Mallow, Co Cork, native spent three years in the laundry and has been left scarred for life, despite being released at the age of 19.

"I could never settle down with a partner and I could never have children because I thought they would end up the same as me," she said.

Irish Independent

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