Dublin councillors block Magdalene Laundry sale

Several Dublin councillors are trying to stop the sale to a Japanese hotel chain of the last Magdalene Laundry building still in state possession.

They have the support of over 9,500 people who have signed a petition to stop the sale.

The Magdalene Laundries were Catholic-run workhouses for “fallen women”, unmarried mothers and orphans.

The councillors argue the Dublin building needs to be preserved to fulfill the government’s commitment to have a memorial for the women who were placed in the laundries.

One councillor pointed out that “It is only in the last couple of years that we started to develop an understanding of institutional abuse.

“…There is a growing movement that says we need some sort of museum or commemorative centre that can help us understand that particular issue.

“The survivors are all in favour of having a memorial to their suffering, that was a request that was made by the survivors, it is something all survivor groups have been really passionate about,” he added.

Although originally owned by the Catholic Church, Dublin city council took control of the Sean McDermott Street Magdelene Laundry from the Sisters of Charity after the laundry closed 22 years ago.

Originally termed Magdalene Asylums, the first laundry in Ireland was opened in Dublin in 1765 for Protestant girls. In 1809 the first Catholic home was founded in Cork.

The laundries were initially envisaged as short-term refuges for “fallen women”. However, they became long-term institutions where the women were treated as penitents and required to work, mostly in laundries on the premises

Later, the role of the Magdalene Asylums expanded to include unmarried mothers, women with learning difficulties and girls who had been abused.

The women worked behind locked doors and were unable to leave after being admitted. The women were not paid wages, although the laundries were paid for the work the women did.

The laundries were run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, the Religious Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

Between 1922 and 1996 there were 10 Magdalene Laundries in the Republic of Ireland.

In February 2013, then Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny apologised to the 10,000 women who had passed through the laundries.

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News category: World.

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