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Dr Maeve O'Rourke @maeveorourke
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All this talk of the Irish Parliamentary Party in #Election18 has reminded me how in 1901 in Westminster they forced an exemption from inspection for Magdalene Laundries under the mammoth Factory and Workshop Act 1901 - see section 103(4). #votail100 (Thread)
John Redmond's argument (which you can read here:…) went as follows:
"The claim we put confined to institutions, reformatory in their character, in which the labour employed is...of fallen women who have been taken by these charitable ladies,who have...provided them w/work and w/ means of salvation frm continuing in their evil courses
"… I am sure that it is quite unnecessary for me to emphasise the fact that the kind of charity which is exercised by the ladies in these institutions is probably the noblest charity which anybody could possibly engage in.
"The great object of these ladies is to keep these girls in those institutions.The organisations I refer to are great societies like the Society of the Good Shepherd, which exists in every country in the world,has been employed for years and carrying on this work
"The members of this Society of the Good Shepherd are unanimously of opinion that the introduction into their institutions of an outside authority in the shape of Government inspectors would completely destroy the discipline of their institutions... these institutions there is inspection,although not Government inspection.There is an inspection by the superiors of the religious orders to which they belong, which makes it impossible either for insanitary arrangements to exist or improper hours of labour to be enforced."
Harold Tennant, of the Liberal Party, was not convinced. He said systematic abuse had already been uncovered by inspectors of the Good Shepherds’ orphanages and industrial schools in France and there were reports in English newspapers of abuse in Good Shepherd convents in England
According to Tennant: "The convents of the Good Shepherd may be subject to precisely the same abuses in England as in France. He would point out to the House what happened in Sheffield only four years ago...…
"He wished to quote this instance in reply to the hon. Member for East Clare, who had stated that it was quite easy for the girls to come and go in these institutions—
Two girls, named Maggie Gaffey, aged 15, and Minnie Hober, aged 16, made their escape from the convent of the Good Shepherd at midnight last night. They dropped 20 feet from a window on the fourth storey to the roof of another building, and then scaled the convent walls...
...from which they descended to the street. Hober sprained both her ankles, and the girls, being unable to run away, were arrested. The girls tell stories of starvation, hard work, and cruel treatment, and threaten to kill themselves if they are sent back."
John Dillon was having none of it.
According to him, "The inmates of these institutions are as free to leave them if they wish as any Member of this House is to leave this Chamber to-night."…
Dillon:"The discipline which is maintained is the discipline of a private family—that is,by affection & influence & not by fear of punishment or fear of restraint...The work they mainly intended as a means of distracting the minds & occupying the time of the inmates"
Tragically the Irish Department of Justice in 2018 says the same thing, to the UN: There is "no factual evidence to support allegations of systematic torture or ill treatment of a criminal nature in these institutions." #votail100…
And @campaignforleo's Department says it will not release any of the state records it holds on the Magdalene Laundries: it's holding them 'for safe keeping' and not for the purposes of the FOI Act. (And certainly not for the purpose of allowing #herstory to be told.) #votail100
Listen to the women:
UCD / @maglaundries Oral History:…

Gabrielle O'Gorman:
Elizabeth Coppin:…
Women in @maglaundries 2011 report to UNCAT:…
Mary Merritt:…
and so many more.
#herstory will be told!
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