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Magdalene asylums


MichaelR

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Watched "Magdalene Sisters" some months ago. Had a couple of questions, and could not find anyone who knows the answer yet. (Of course I realize any movie may well deviate from the truth)

- According to the movie, women clearly above 16 would be held involuntarily. What was the legal basis for that?

- A possibly more tricky one... As some inmates would eventually gain freedom and move to the UK, surely a good Northern journalist could get his hands on the information. And there were more than enough forces in the North who would gladly publish anything dirty about RC actions in Ireland. In fact, this kind of stuff could be turned against the somewhat hippy-style strand of Republicans in the 70s and onwards - "there's your freedom". A potent Unionist propaganda weapon - which apparently failed to materialize. Why? What prevented the Belfast Telegraph and the like from launching the "PR" attack that, eventually, came in the 90s?
 


CelticAtheist

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Any chance of a few links about this?
 

merle haggard

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MichaelR said:
Watched "Magdalene Sisters" some months ago. Had a couple of questions, and could not find anyone who knows the answer yet. (Of course I realize any movie may well deviate from the truth)

- According to the movie, women clearly above 16 would be held involuntarily. What was the legal basis for that?

- A possibly more tricky one... As some inmates would eventually gain freedom and move to the UK, surely a good Northern journalist could get his hands on the information. And there were more than enough forces in the North who would gladly publish anything dirty about RC actions in Ireland. In fact, this kind of stuff could be turned against the somewhat hippy-style strand of Republicans in the 70s and onwards - "there's your freedom". A potent Unionist propaganda weapon - which apparently failed to materialize. Why? What prevented the Belfast Telegraph and the like from launching the "PR" attack that, eventually, came in the 90s?
most likely the kincora scandal in the north and the embarassment factor for both unionist politicians and British intelligence . Not to mention the British states desire to keep the catholic hierarchy onside and to ensure respect for the southern states instituions was not undermined . It should beremembered that senior nuns were inviting british army officers on tours of ther falls road schools and those same army oficers spent most of the 1970s urging irish people to listen to their preists . didnt make sense to undermine them .

a more important question would be why the Unionist owned Irish Times didnt highlight the issue much earlier
 

Wednesday

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MichaelR said:
According to the movie, women clearly above 16 would be held involuntarily. What was the legal basis for that?
The "legal basis" was the willingness of the Gardaí to collaborate with the imprisonment of these women. That's all that was needed.

Incidentally the State still officially maintains that they weren't held involuntarily. The Magdalene laundries were largely excluded from the institutional abuse redress scheme - on the basis that the women didn't "have" to be there.

A possibly more tricky one... As some inmates would eventually gain freedom and move to the UK, surely a good Northern journalist could get his hands on the information. And there were more than enough forces in the North who would gladly publish anything dirty about RC actions in Ireland. In fact, this kind of stuff could be turned against the somewhat hippy-style strand of Republicans in the 70s and onwards - "there's your freedom". A potent Unionist propaganda weapon - which apparently failed to materialize. Why? What prevented the Belfast Telegraph and the like from launching the "PR" attack that, eventually, came in the 90s?
They probably thought it was a good idea. Don't make the mistake of assuming that because unionists aren't Catholic means they're any less reactionary on gender and sexuality issues.
 

Aindriu

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The whole Magadalene scenario was a very dark age in Irelands history. The way young women were treated in those times was disgusting. The reform schools were no better.
 

corkscribe

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"Magdalene Sisters" was a good movie but really only scratched the surface. In some ways Peter Mullan had to water down some of the facts for commercial 'acceptability' purposes. Anyone interested in finding out more about the scandalous incarceration of women in Ireland should also try to see the BBC/Channel 4 co-production, 'Sinners'... or the Channel 4 documentary "Sex in a Cold Climate".. I've seen it, but its interesting to note that RTE have refused on more than one occasion to show it. I'm delighted to see this subject coming up on this site, as it is a political issue - For decades the abuse and ill-treatment of these women was either denied, excused or covered up by the pillars of society - the Church, the Government Departments responsible and the Gardai, who regularly detained and returned women to the laundries. The 'Maggies' were also buried in unmarked graves, and many of them lost their children - the kids were adopted both here and (illegally) in the USA, without their mothers consent. RTE reporter Mike Millotte is the author of an outstanding (and frightening) book on the issues.. especially the USA adoptions. Before anyone asks me if I can back up my claims, I most certainly can. A number of years ago I interviewed an American woman who traced her Irish mother - only to discover that she was kept in a Maggie Laundry for 42 years - despite the fact that she had a loving family who wanted to take her home.

I'm in hobby horse territory here, folks.. :cool:

By the way - the last Maggie Laundry in Ireland only closed in 1996
 

Aindriu

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Have the State and Catholic Church ever apologised publicly for the whole situation?
The last one closed in 1996!!!!!!!!!???????? That is only 12 years ago!!!! Disgusting!
 

Utopian Hermit Monk

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corkscribe said:
"Magdalene Sisters" was a good movie but really only scratched the surface. In some ways Peter Mullan had to water down some of the facts for commercial 'acceptability' purposes. Anyone interested in finding out more about the scandalous incarceration of women in Ireland should also try to see the BBC/Channel 4 co-production, 'Sinners'... or the Channel 4 documentary "Sex in a Cold Climate".. I've seen it, but its interesting to note that RTE have refused on more than one occasion to show it. ...

Rather than relying on movies and/or television documentaries, it is worth reading James M. Smith's Ireland's Magdalen Laundries and the Nation's Architecture of Containment

Amazon blurb:

Ireland's Magdalen Laundries and the Nation's Architecture of Containment connects Ireland s Magdalen laundries and the nation-state's nativist politics in the post-independence era, while critically evaluating cultural representations of the Magdalen laundries that have, over the past fifteen years, recovered these institutions from the amnesia at the center of state politics. The first half of the book explores the relationship between the Magdalen laundries and the nation's architecture of containment, which rendered invisible segments of the population (e.g., illegitimate children, single mothers, the sexually promiscuous, etc.) who contradicted the state s constitutional vision for a newly independent Ireland. The book interrogates available archival resources, including government reports, legislative debates, and court cases, to assert that the state was always an active agent in the operation and function of the nation s Magdalen homes. The second half of the book considers a wide range of creative works that help imagine and give narrative form to the Magdalen experience: commercial, independent documentaries, photography and literary representations. Recent cultural reenactments, Smith argues, contribute to the emergence of an alternative national narrative that finally incorporates the women effaced by the nation s containment culture. Ultimately, the book contends that Ireland s Magdalen institutions chiefly exist in the public mind at the level of story (cultural representation and survivor testimony) rather than history (archival history and documentation).
 

corkscribe

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[quote="Utopian Hermit MonkRather than relying on movies and/or television documentaries, it is worth reading James M. Smith's Ireland's Magdalen Laundries and the Nation's Architecture of Containment
[/quote]



A good book - if a little 'inaccessible'.. ie ... somewhat deep and academic in its style.. I merely recommended the documentaries as a good base to start.. as for myself, I can number the daughters of three Maggies among my close friends.. so in some ways, I've had a better grounding than many in the basics.. :cry:
 

corkscribe

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Aindriu said:
Have the State and Catholic Church ever apologised publicly for the whole situation?
The last one closed in 1996!!!!!!!!!???????? That is only 12 years ago!!!! Disgusting!
Not in as many words, No. That last laundry, by the way, was in inner City Dublin, and one or two of its former inhabitants still live on the premises. Others live at a convent in Cork, having spent their lives at the Good Sheperd Laundry in the City. All are completely institutionalised. It's a scandal - and one that still has not been addressed with any conviction
 

louis bernard

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I wonder how long it will take some of our public house “republicans” to get around to blaming the English (800 years of oppression etc.etc.) for this outrage?
 

Aindriu

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louis bernard said:
I wonder how long it will take some of our public house “republicans” to get around to blaming the English (800 years of oppression etc.etc.) for this outrage?
They were all down to Dev's vision of 'Holy Catholic Ireland' and the Catholic Church. People emigrated away from this country for other reasons besides jobs. I knew many families who left because of the RCC and the power it held here.
 

kittyn

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louis bernard said:
I wonder how long it will take some of our public house “republicans” to get around to blaming the English (800 years of oppression etc.etc.) for this outrage?
The Laundries and Reform schools had nothing to do with the English....... It was all to do with the hold the Catholic Church had on our nation, a Catholic Priest had the right to remove a girl from her family, without their consent, being found she had been bad in the eyes of their God, and place them in a Laundry....... Decades of scandal associated with religion in this country, and some posters here would like to see Religion come back to the fore front in this country, eh no thanks, I'd be the first on a plane out of here...........
Religious extremes can stay where they are thanks, I was watching Song for a Raggie boy this weekend too and I found it an extremely upsetting film, excellent movie mind you but what happened back then is Disgusting
 

Aindriu

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kittyn said:
The Laundries and Reform schools had nothing to do with the English....... It was all to do with the hold the Catholic Church had on our nation, a Catholic Priest had the right to remove a girl from her family, without their consent, being found she had been bad in the eyes of their God, and place them in a Laundry....... Decades of scandal associated with religion in this country, and some posters here would like to see Religion come back to the fore front in this country, eh no thanks, I'd be the first on a plane out of here...........
Religious extremes can stay where they are thanks, I was watching Song for a Raggie boy this weekend too and I found it an extremely upsetting film, excellent movie mind you but what happened back then is Disgusting
The ordinary schools weren't much better. My father and his two brothers were regularly beaten by the Christian Brothers who taught them. They didn't need an excuse the sadistic bast@rds! Christian? My ar$e!
 
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There was no legal basis. We could term it involuntary servitude or unfree labour but I believe it was closest to indenture. Your question is a very good one and perhaps could encourage people to examine the period yet again and its very long and deep roots in religious orders in Europe. I suspect there was a combination of Garda collusion (looking the other way) and the argument that though not admitted to full vows or membership of the order, the girls and women were seen as fulfilling food and lodging obligations through their work. It's the standard by which we judge indenture in Asian (and sometimes even basement European) sweatshops today.

....In receiving patients no discrimination is made in regard to religion, colour, or nationality. After their convalescence, those who desire to remain in the home are placed under a special sister and are known as "Daughters of St. Margaret". They follow a certain rule of life but contract no religious obligations. Should they desire to remain in the convent, after a period of probation, they are allowed to become Magdalenes and eventually take the vows of the Magdalene order.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09524a.htm
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_ ... d_Shepherd

On the other point - why didn't the Belfast Telegraph use such stories as propaganda against Roman Catholicism?

There were surprisingly few investigative journalists in Northern Ireland of the period and hardly any interest in anything south of the border. Don't forget that at roughly the same time, British children in care were subject to equally extreme phsyical or sexual abuse (consider the recent Jersey island revelations or the Kincora Boyscool scandals) Many people seem to forget that in many ways life north of the border in the 1950's and 1960's was even more repressive socially and certainly in terms of gender politics or rights than in the Eire state. All the same books were proscribed. The playgrounds saw their swings padlocked on Sundays.

In 1971 The Irish Women's Liberation Movement saw 47 go by train to Belfast and bring back condoms. They openly defied "customs" at Connolly train station to arrest them for "illegal importation of contraceptives". That incident deserves to be well known to all Irish people, but it is slightly misleading in that it suggests that condoms themselves were widely used in the norhern statelet at the time. Even by 1971 - they were not. Condoms remained illegal in the Republic until 1978. It took well over a dozen years (possibly more i don't accurately remember) for Gay Byrne at the height of the AIDS scare to display one on "the Late Late Show".

I hope that has either helped your query or even better - made you think about your own cultural and national roots - and link awareness of those to the injustices still suffered worldwide.
 

Alliance

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Aindriu said:
The ordinary schools weren't much better. My father and his two brothers were regularly beaten by the Christian Brothers who taught them. They didn't need an excuse the sadistic bast@rds! Christian? My ar$e!
Which makes you wonder what is the real reason the Irish population are so loyal to Rome and the RCC? What has it ever done for the people? what has it ever done for Ireland? For a people who are so quick to assert their independence from things they consider harmful to themselves and their nation why did they stick to the RCC church with such fever?
 

louis bernard

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Aindriu said:
kittyn said:
The Laundries and Reform schools had nothing to do with the English....... It was all to do with the hold the Catholic Church had on our nation, a Catholic Priest had the right to remove a girl from her family, without their consent, being found she had been bad in the eyes of their God, and place them in a Laundry....... Decades of scandal associated with religion in this country, and some posters here would like to see Religion come back to the fore front in this country, eh no thanks, I'd be the first on a plane out of here...........
Religious extremes can stay where they are thanks, I was watching Song for a Raggie boy this weekend too and I found it an extremely upsetting film, excellent movie mind you but what happened back then is Disgusting
The ordinary schools weren't much better. My father and his two brothers were regularly beaten by the Christian Brothers who taught them. They didn't need an excuse the sadistic bast@rds! Christian? My ar$e!
Thankfully that particular “religious” order is now virtually defunct. But I do have to disagree with you just a little. In the ordinary schools they had to be (sort of) careful. But in the reform schools, it was horrendous; being stripped naked and flogged within an inch of your life was par for the course. And of course a lot of these perverts are still alive today, pillars of society. They should be outed, now there is a good project for a young investigative journalist to get his/her teeth into.
 

louis bernard

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Alliance said:
Aindriu said:
The ordinary schools weren't much better. My father and his two brothers were regularly beaten by the Christian Brothers who taught them. They didn't need an excuse the sadistic bast@rds! Christian? My ar$e!
Which makes you wonder what is the real reason the Irish population are so loyal to Rome and the RCC? What has it ever done for the people? what has it ever done for Ireland? For a people who are so quick to assert their independence from things they consider harmful to themselves and their nation why did they stick to the RCC church with such fever?
Not embracing Protestantism after the reformation is probably the biggest mistake the Irish people ever made.
 

Alliance

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louis bernard said:
Alliance said:
Aindriu said:
The ordinary schools weren't much better. My father and his two brothers were regularly beaten by the Christian Brothers who taught them. They didn't need an excuse the sadistic bast@rds! Christian? My ar$e!
Which makes you wonder what is the real reason the Irish population are so loyal to Rome and the RCC? What has it ever done for the people? what has it ever done for Ireland? For a people who are so quick to assert their independence from things they consider harmful to themselves and their nation why did they stick to the RCC church with such fever?
Not embracing Protestantism after the reformation is probably the biggest mistake the Irish people ever made.
Well, as a Prod, I of course agree but I wouldn't say it was the fault of the Irish but more so the fault of the English. After putting so much money and energy into Protestantising Wales and England the Reformation simply ran out of steam by the time it got here. The Reformation that reached Ireland was weak and meek. Funnily enough I'd even go as far as saying that England created the "Irish Problem" because of this early mistake.
 

atlantic

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In ordinary schools I seen the the clattering with the leather,the punches and the kicks.I endured the odd one until i was 15 .
But you can imagine what it was like where these kids had no voice,the hidings ,the ridicule and psychological damage.
louis bernard said:
Aindriu said:
kittyn said:
The Laundries and Reform schools had nothing to do with the English....... It was all to do with the hold the Catholic Church had on our nation, a Catholic Priest had the right to remove a girl from her family, without their consent, being found she had been bad in the eyes of their God, and place them in a Laundry....... Decades of scandal associated with religion in this country, and some posters here would like to see Religion come back to the fore front in this country, eh no thanks, I'd be the first on a plane out of here...........
Religious extremes can stay where they are thanks, I was watching Song for a Raggie boy this weekend too and I found it an extremely upsetting film, excellent movie mind you but what happened back then is Disgusting
The ordinary schools weren't much better. My father and his two brothers were regularly beaten by the Christian Brothers who taught them. They didn't need an excuse the sadistic bast@rds! Christian? My ar$e!
Thankfully that particular “religious” order is now virtually defunct. But I do have to disagree with you just a little. In the ordinary schools they had to be (sort of) careful. But in the reform schools, it was horrendous; being stripped naked and flogged within an inch of your life was par for the course. And of course a lot of these perverts are still alive today, pillars of society. They should be outed, now there is a good project for a young investigative journalist to get his/her teeth into.
 

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