Minister Flanagan launches Report of the Dublin Honours Magdalenes event
Commits to permanent memorial in line with attendees’ wishes
25 June 2020
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has today officially launched the first report of the Dublin Honours Magdalenes events. The report was principally authored by Dr. Katherine O’Donnell and Claire McGettrick of the Justice for Magdalenes Research group which organised the gathering.
Officially launching the report, Minister Flanagan said:
“Today I am proud once again to give some further recognition to the women who resided in the Magdalen Laundries by launching the first volume report which provides some of the key findings from the two days and also serves as a commemorative of the event. I will be arranging shortly for my officials to send a copy of this report to all of the women who received compensation from the Magdalen Restorative Justice Scheme“.
Referring to the two days of events the report recalls, Minister Flanagan continued:
“When I was first approached about the Dublin Honours Magdalenes project I could see immediately that this was a project I wanted to get behind and support in any way I could. I knew it would give effect to key aspects of the restorative justice scheme and so I was delighted to be able to give both practical and financial support. At the time, the plans sounded ambitious, but what was achieved over the two days was actually all that had been hoped for and more”.
Dublin Honours Magdalenes (DHM) was an historic event held over the 5th and 6th of June 2018. It fulfilled two key aspects of the Irish State’s Magdalen Restorative Justice Ex-Gratia scheme, firstly, to bring together those women seeking to meet others who had spent time resident in Magdalen laundries and, secondly, to provide an opportunity to conduct a Listening Exercise to gather views from women on how the laundries should be remembered for future generations.
The two-day event also involved an address by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and a garden party at Áras an Uachtaráin; a gala dinner hosted by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mícheál Mac Donncha, at the Mansion House with an address by the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, TD; and a second night of dining and entertainment at Citywest Hotel.
In welcoming the report, organiser Katherine O’Donnell of JFMR acknowledged the contribution of Minister Flanagan:
‘Minister Flanagan’s commitment to the issue of Justice for Magdalenes was motivated by a personal awareness of how Ireland’s architecture of containment was used in the twentieth century to deny dignity to the vulnerable among us. The historical record will demonstrate that he showed leadership and was prepared to find innovative solutions to address the legacy of those injustices.
Fellow organiser Maeve O’Rourke meanwhile also expressed JFMR’s deep gratitude to the survivors who attended the DHM Listening Exercise for trusting JMFR with their testimony.
‘'The experience of DHM shows that everybody benefits when abuse survivors are respected, welcomed and listened to. Now the next steps in this process are for the Government to respond to the women’s views by providing the health and social care promised under the ex gratia Scheme, and to ensure memorialisation through national education and the creation of an independent repository of all institutional records (including the archive of the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Magdalene Laundries, currently held by the Taoiseach’s department) with appropriate access provided to survivors, family members and the public.'
The Listening Exercise which is also referred to in the report, involved over 140 women talking about their experiences while in Magdalene Laundries.
The women discussed 3 questions:
What do they want us to know?
What lessons should be learned?
How should they be remembered?
The conversations were recorded and transcribed into a volume 2 report which will be available over the coming weeks on the Justice for Magdalenes Research website. This second volume runs to over 1,500 pages, but the key findings from it are outlined in the report being launched today.
Commenting on some of those findings, and specifically that of a desire for a permanent memorial, Minister Flanagan continued:
“It is really important for the women who spent time in the laundries to have a place where they can go to have a remembrance of their time and I’m glad that this was discussed in the Listening Exercise. I note that a place of reflection and memorial is something that emerges from the conversations. I am committed to such a project and I look forward to being able to see something permanent in place in the near future – my Department is liaising with Dublin City Council and others to advance such plans”.
The Minister also said he was interested to see that the women discussed how their experiences should be remembered and he noted their desire that there should be some public education on the issue so that people could understand what happened in the laundries.
Minister Flanagan also recognised that another issue Identified by the women was the provision of the relevant medical card as committed to under the scheme of redress as constructed by Justice Quirke. Minister Flanagan noted this finding and said he has instructed officials in the Department of Justice and Equality to liaise with the Department of Health to bring about a resolution to this matter.
DHM was voluntarily organised by Norah Casey, alongside Dr. Katherine O'Donnell, Dr. Maeve O'Rourke and Claire McGettrick of Justice for Magdalenes Research. The event was funded by the Department of Justice and Equality, with seed funding from the Central Area Committee of Dublin City Council.
Notes to editors:
The Report of the Listening Exercise is available here: http://jfmresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/DHM-Listening-Exercise-Report_Vol-1.pdf
Further information about Dublin Honours Magdalenes is available at this webpage: http://jfmresearch.com/home/restorative-justice/dublin-honours-magdalenes/