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IHRC calls for redress scheme

Universal links to human rights, sculpture, Dublin

The Irish Human Rights Commission has called on the Government to establish a comprehensive redress scheme for the victims of the Magdalene Laundries. The Commission has said that the Irish State failed in its duty and obligation to protect girls and women present in the Magdalene Laundries, and should introduce a scheme which would provide individual compensation, restitution and rehabilitation.

“The IHRC is calling for a comprehensive redress scheme that provides individual compensation for the impact of the human rights violations which occurred to each individual woman who resided in the Laundries. The extent of such violations and their ongoing impact needs to be factored into the determination of individual compensation and ongoing supports in order to go some way to vindicating the rights of these women,” said Professor Siobhán Mullally, IHRC Commissioner, speaking at the launch of the IHRC Follow Up Report. “Measures should also be put in place to guarantee that these women have restitution in terms of lost wages, pensions and social welfare benefits. Rehabilitation supports including housing, education, health and welfare, and assistance to deal with the psychological effects of the time spent in the Laundries should be made available to them.” 

 A number of key recommendations have been made by the Commission, including the provision of appropriate compensation and rehabilitation, the need to ensure that all credible claims of abuse are thoroughly and independently investigated and the immediate introduction of compulsory licencing and inspections for residential care centres for people with disabilities by the Health Information and Quality Authority.

 “Lessons must be learned from the breaches of human rights experienced by girls and women in Magdalene Laundries to ensure similar wrongs are not repeated now or in the future. The right to equality is a fundamental principle of human rights law. The State must never be complacent in the way it treats those at risk of discrimination,” said Sinéad Lucey, Senior Enquiry and Legal Officer of the IHRC. “More comprehensive equality protections are needed in this regard. Stronger regulation and oversight of the relationship between the State and non-state actors carrying out State functions or services is required. In addition, stand alone legislation that defines forced or compulsory labour or servitude as a criminal offence in its own right with a strong enforcement mechanism should be introduced. Overall, the State needs to cease its dependency on institutionalising certain groups in society and support them to live to their full potential in the community.” 

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