During the Irish State’s infancy and right up to modern times, a variety forced labour institutions under the control of the Church and sanctioned by the State, robbed men, women and children of the basic human rights we hold dear today as Irish and European citizens. The institutions took three forms, Mother & Baby homes, Industrial Schools and the Magdalen Asylum for Penitent Females a.k.a. Magdalen Laundries. The idea behind these institutions was to provide for the vulnerable, people of all ages, on the island of Ireland. Although, they were regarded as religious penitentiaries where, in actuality, many of the inmates were subjected to horrific atrocities that can only be described as criminal.
Many were sent for the “crime” of being unmarried and pregnant, and they worked without pay in the laundries which supplied services to State-run bodies, hospitals and hotels. Kitty Holland, Irish Times, Online, 25th August, 2017
On Friday, August 25th, 2017, at the site of one of the last Magdalene Laundry (closed in 1996, on Sean McDermott Street, Dublin) the community came together to seek justice for the many victims of the Magdalene Laundry’s. In attendance were a number of surviving victims who bravely stood up and shared their experiences. The stories are heart breaking. Please take some time to see our videos of their moving stories.
Today, the Irish Government has recognised the need for reparations and recognition of the atrocities suffered by men, women and children across Ireland at the hands of the Church under the authority of the State. But, it is not enough. At a bare minimum we are seeking that this Magdalene Laundry site host a decent memorial, so that this is not another atrocity minimized or wiped from our memories. We in HOPE support public consultation on the use of the site to be sold by Dublin City Council and in particular, we support a suitable memorial to the woman and children who suffered behind those walls.
Also known as ‘institutionalisation‘, refers to deficits or disabilities in social and life skills, which develop after a person has spent a long period living in residential institutions. In other words, individuals in institutions may be deprived (whether unintentionally or not) of independence and of responsibility, to the point that once they return to “outside life” they are often unable to manage many of its demands; it has also been argued that institutionalised individuals become psychologically more prone to mental health problems.
With the closure of the industrial schools, magdalene asylums, and the mother & baby homes, it was thought that institutionalistion was to become a thing of the past. Instead, the institutional syndrome has shifted from one vulnrable group to another. Direct provision is the system for dealing with migrants seeking asylum in the Republic of Ireland.
Today, many asylum seekers in the State’s direct provision system spend years in conditions which most agree are damaging to the health, welfare and life-chances of those forced to endure them. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work. They are not entitled to social welfare. And they are excluded from social housing and free third-level education. In all, more than 4,300 people, including 1,600 children, live in 34 accommodation centres spread across the State. Carl O’Brien & Sinead O’Shea, The Irish Times Online, 8th August 2017
Irish institution survivors share their experiences. A compilation of video clips recorded at the rally for an Honourable Magdalene Memorial, Sean McDermott Street Magdalene Asylum (closed in 1996), Friday 25th August, 2017.
If you have been affected by the contents of this article in anyway, please do feel free to reach out. H.O.P.E. is here to support the community in anyway we can. As well, for further support, please find some external links below:
Dublin Honours Magdalens – https://www.facebook.com/dublinhonoursmagdalenes/
The Alliance Victim Support Group – http://www.alliancesupport.org/
Residential Institutions Redress Board – http://www.rirb.ie/
Towards Healing – http://www.towardshealing.ie/index.html
Coalition of Mother & Baby Home Survivors – https://www.facebook.com/Coalition-of-Mother-And-Baby-home-Survivors-CMABS-526069800892810/
Justice for Magdalene Laundries – http://www.magdalenelaundries.com/
Oasis Counselling – http://oasiscentre.ie/
The Irish Immigrant Support Centre – http://www.nascireland.org/campaigns-for-change/direct-provision/
Irish Refugee Council – http://www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie/
Hands on Peer Education, is a front-line service in the north inner city, where those suffering with addiction and their families can get access to much needed support and treatment options. H.O.P.E. facilitates and advocates for recovery through abstinence. We also offer a wide range of advocacy services. H.O.P.E.’s free and confidential drop-in clinic is open from 10am ‘til 1pm, Monday to Friday.
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