Apology for workhouse women

The Irish Government has apologised to the thousands of women locked up in Catholic-run workhouses known as Magdalene laundries between 1922 and 1996. Records have confirmed 10,012 women spent time in the workhouses across the country.

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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.

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