The Shame of Ireland
Four women who claim they were used as forced labour in a Magdalene Laundry but who have been excluded from the Government compensation scheme have launched a High Court challenge.
A judge yesterday was told the basis for excluding the women from the scheme set up two years ago is that while it was accepted they worked at the St Mary’s Refuge Magdalene Laundry, at the High Park Convent, Drumcondra, Dublin 9, they were not admitted to it.
They had been admitted to An Grianan Institution, which was on the grounds of the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge, also at High Park, Grace Park Rd, in Drumcondra. An Grianan was deemed a separate and specific institution to the laundry.
The women all claim they were forced to perform forced labour for no pay at the laundry when they were residents at An Grianan. They claim they had very little education there, which had a serious detrimental effect on their lives. Due to this, they say, there are entitled to be included.
In separate actions, three of the women are challenging a decision by the ombudsman, last June, to refuse their appeal against the refusal by the Department of Justice and Equality to admit them to the ex gratia scheme for women who were admitted and worked at Magdalene Laundries. The initial refusal was subsequently appealed by the three women to the ombudsman, who upheld the department’s decision.
The fourth’s action is against the Minister for Justice and Equality arising out of her decision, also made last June, refusing to admit the woman to the survivors’ redress scheme.
In their judicial review proceedings, the four women have asked the High Court to quash the decisions refusing to admit them to the scheme.
The women claim the decisions to exclude them are unreasonable and irrational. They also argue the decisions breach their rights to constitutional justice and fair procedures. The four were minors when they worked at the laundries. They also claim irrelevant matters were taken into account by the decisionmakers in respect of the applications to be included in the scheme.
One consideration that was not taken into account was evidence gathered by the HSE to the effect that An Grianan was not a separate institution in itself but was “one and the same” with the St Mary’s Magdalene Laundry, the court heard.
Permission to bring the challenges was granted by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys. The case comes before the court again in December.
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