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Inquiry's findings into everyday life in a laundry

The inquiry found the following about everyday life in a laundry:

  • It reported, a harsh and physically demanding environment with a cold atmosphere and a rigid uncompromising work and prayer regime.
  • Both verbal and psychological abuse was common.
  • It was rare for a woman to have her head shaved as punishment but they had their hair cut back short in a bob.

More than 100 women were spoken to by the inquiry committee, more than half of whom are in nursing homes.

Justice Minister: Survivors deserve 'best support'

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he regretted that the laundries were not investigated until 2011.

I am sorry that the state did not do more and the Government recognises that the women alive today who are still affected by their time in the laundries deserve the best supports that the state can provide.

– Alan Shatter, Justice Minister


Majority sent to Magdalene laundries for minor offences

The majority of women forced into Magdalene laundries were there for minor offences such as theft and not paying for a train ticket.

A small number of women were there for prostitution - despite the stigma attached to those who were sent to the laundries and became known as Maggies, a slang term for prostitute.

The report also confirmed that a garda could arrest a girl or a woman without warrant if she was being recalled to the laundry or if she had run away.

In numbers: The Magdalene laundries scandal

The inquiry into Magdalene laundries found the following statistics:

  • Around 50% of the girls and women put to work were under the age of 23.
  • 40% - more than 4,000 - spent more than a year incarcerated.
  • Some 15% spent more than five years while the average stay has been calculated at seven months.
  • The youngest death on record was 15 and the oldest 95.
  • Some of the women were sent to laundries more than once - records show a total of 14,607 admissions, and a total of 8,025 known reasons for being sent to a laundry.

The statistics outlined in the report are based on records of only eight of the 10 laundries with the Sisters of Mercy operated Dun Laoghaire and Galway missing from the records.

Justice for Magdalenes: Women entered voluntarily claims wrong

It can no longer be claimed that these institutions were private and that 'the vast majority' of the girls and women entered voluntarily as has been claimed by former minister Batt O'Keeffe and testimony before the UN Committee Against Torture given by Sean Aylward, the former secretary general of the Department of Justice.

– The Justice for Magdalenes group

Magdalene survivors reject Kenny's apology

Survivors of Magdalene laundries have rejected Taoiseach Enda Kenny's apology and demanded a fuller admission from the government and the religious orders involved.

That is not an apology. He is the Taoiseach of our country, he is the Taoiseach of the Irish people, and that is not a proper apology.

– Maureen Sullivan, Magdalene Survivors Together

Another survivor Mary Smyth said she endured inhumane conditions in a laundry, which she said was worse than being in prison

I will go to the grave with what happened. It will never ever leave me.

– Mary Smyth


'988 women' buried in laundry plots across Ireland

A memorial plaque to victims of the Magdalene Laundries in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. Credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire

The Justice for Magdalenes group said it was aware of at least 988 women who are buried in laundry plots in cemeteries across Ireland and therefore must have stayed for life, however, the inquiry could only certify 879.

The last laundry, Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin's north inner city, closed in 1996.

Kenny regrets 'stigma' of Magdalene laundries women

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has apologised for Magdalene laundries. Credit: Barry Cronin/PA Wire

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said action should have been taken before to clear the names and reputations of the women put to work in Magdalene laundries.

He said: "That the stigma, that the branding together of the residents, all 10,000 needs to be removed and should have been removed long before this and I'm really sorry that that never happened, and I regret that never happened.

"I'm sorry that this release of pressure and understanding of so many of those women was not done before this, because they were branded as being the fallen women, as they were referred to in this state."

Magdalene laundries: How the state was involved

An 18 month inquiry into Magdalene laundries chaired by Senator Martin McAleese has identified five areas where there was direct state involvement in the detention of women in 10 laundries run by nuns.

  • They were detained by courts, gardai, transferred by industrial or reform schools, rejected by foster families, orphaned, abused children, mentally or physically disabled, homeless teenagers or simply poor.
  • Inspectors, known as "the suits" by the women, routinely checked conditions complied with rules for factories.
  • Government paid welfare to certain women in laundries, along with payments for services.
  • Women were also enabled to leave laundries if they moved to other state-run institutions such as psychiatric hospitals, county and city homes and in the company of police, probation, court or prison officers.
  • The state also had a role in registering the death of a woman in a laundry.

Enda Kenny 'sorry' for state role in Magdalene laundries

An inquiry found that 2,124 of the 10,012 women who were detained in Catholic-run workhouses known as Magdalene laundries were sent by the authorities.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed his sympathies with survivors and the families of those who have died.

To those residents who went into the Magdalene laundries from a variety of ways, 26% from state involvement, I'm sorry for those people that they lived in that kind of environment.

– Taoiseach Enda Kenny
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