The shaming and torture of women in Ireland goes before the UN

This week a delegation of 21 Irish officials were part of a public hearing by the UN Committee on Torture which is reviewing the Irish State’s human rights record on Magdalene Laundries and Mother-and- baby Homes, and other aspects of Ireland’s social history. The Irish State has said there was no serious harm done to women and children in the Magdalene laundries but the UN rapporteur has said “there is a great deal of evidence that there has indeed been abuse.”

My mum, as well as many other children, was a religious prisoner of the Irish state. The treatment she received by the religious orders responsible for her care and protection has been called abuse.  This got me thinking, when does consistent and repeated abuse of a child become torture ?

The UN committee on torture wants answers. These are just a few questions ;

  1. Why has the interdepartmental committee set up to investigate the religious orders that ran the Magdalene laundries destroyed its copies of evidence from these religious congregations?
  2. What is preventing the government providing public access to the Archive?
  3. Why has Ireland not thoroughly investigated alleged abuses at mother –and- baby homes including alleged forced illegal adoptions of children born out of wedlock and without the permission of the mothers?
  4. Is the Irish state “walking back” from the famous apology by Enda Kenny to survivors of Magdalene laundries and going back to a view that the State is not liable?

The UN rapporteur also asked the Irish delegation how they could claim there was no serious harm when it made no public call for evidence. The Irish State has only investigated 18 institutions when there may be as many as 70 involved. So the UN rapporteur asked the Government if they would expand the scope of and terms of reference of the commission of investigation to identify deceased children at the sites of the mother-and- baby homes.

I’d like to end this blog on a cheerful note. This song is part of my own social history. My mum played it when I was a youngster. I dedicate to her memory this week.



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