Alliance Support Group

January 2015 Archives


€9 million paid out to over 1,000 applicants



Updates on statistics relating to the Caranua application process are published monthly. This is the December 2014 update.

 Update – December 2014

This update gives information on applications to Caranua, and payments made since January 2014. We have now:

  • Made 5,864 payments to 1,062 people
  • Verified eligibility and sent Part 2 application forms to 3,165 people
  • Received applications for services from 2,179 people
  • Paid out nearly €9 million

The rest of this update provides more information on our application process and our progress in meeting the needs of people who apply to us.

How many people can apply?

To be eligible to apply to Caranua, a person must have spent time in an institution as a child, and received an award through settlement, Court or the Residential Institutions Redress Board. An estimated 15,000 people received such awards and may be eligible to apply to us.  Our Application Form Part 1 allows us to check whether someone can apply.  Once we receive the form, we usually do this in ten working days.  

To the end of December we have:

  • Received 3829 Part 1 applications
  • Verified 3666 people as eligible
  • Confirmed that 66 people are not eligible

Where are people applying from?

Ireland 2933
United Kingdom 799
Outside Ireland and the United Kingdom 97

How many people have made applications for services?

Once someone is eligible to apply, we must be sure that they are who they say they are and we do this by checking identity documents.  3666 people have been asked for identity documents.  Once these have been verified, we invite people to make an application. We have received and verified identification documents for 3087 people.  

For the 3087 people eligible for Part 2 of the process, we have:   

  • Sent application forms to all of them
  • Received forms back from 2179 people  
  • Spoken to 2171 people
  • Made payments to 1062 people(half of those who sent us back their Part 2 form)

How much money has been spent?

At the end of December we had made payments of €8,935,624. This amounts to 5,864 payments to 1,062 applicants. Almost €2 million of the total figure was spent in December (€1,867,976).

Of the total amount spent so far, £998,828 (Sterling) was paid to applicants from the UK, this amounts to €1,279,808 in Euro.

People can apply for services under the categories of health, housing and education. Below is a breakdown of how the money was spent by category:

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Second apology

Second apology over Magdalene laundries urged


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been told to apologise to Magdalene laundry victims for a second time in just two years, after failing to live up to promises to women who were effectively forced into State “slavery”.



Opposition TDs insisted the step is needed during the second day of debate in the Dáil on what supports will be made available for women kept in the religious institutions without their consent.

Speaking during the second stage of the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill 2014, which outlines payments to those affected if they agree not to sue the State,and certain health services in some cases, politicians across the political divide criticised what is on offer.

They included Fianna Fáil mental health and special needs spokesperson Colm Keaveney, who insisted the failure to live up to expectations since Mr Kenny’s Dáil apology on February 19, 2013, means the Taoiseach must return to the chamber and beg Magdalene laundry survivors to forgive him.

“It took him 30 years to be man enough to apologise. The satisfaction these women had in receiving that apology is now turning to dust. It is incumbent on the Taoiseach to apologise again...” he said, adding the State and particularly the justice system “colluded” in what happened to these women.

Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger said there is a clear need to give the women, some of whom are suffering from lung cancer, what they deserve after taking their youth, and attacked the Government-backed McAleese report as a sub-standard investigation. The comments were echoed by Independent TDs Clare Daly, Catherine Murphy, and Maureen O’ Sullivan.

Reform Alliance leader Lucinda Creighton and Independent TD Peter Mathews said “we are all collectively responsible”.

The comments came as the Justice for Magdalene’s Research group said it is “still unclear” why the wording of the bill limits the number of services available to those affected through the HAA card — effectively an enhanced medical card that was previously provided to victims of the Hepatitis C scandal.

The redress bill passed without a vote and is now set to be debated by the justice committee next Wednesday.


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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Read for yourselves

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Medical Cards for the Magdalene women

Magdalene women to get special medical card

Wednesday 28 January 2015 21.56

Magdalene women are to get medical services equivalent to those provided to the holders of the unique Health Amendment Act Card
Magdalene women are to get medical services equivalent to those provided to the holders of the unique Health Amendment Act Card

The Government is to give effect to Judge John Quirke's recommendation that the special medical card be awarded to survivors of Magdalene Laundries and similar institutions.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said that under legislation before the House, the Magdalene women would receive medical services equivalent to those provided to the holders of the unique Health Amendment Act Card for victims of Hepatitis C contracted from blood products.

The minister was speaking on the second stage of the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill 2014.

Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesman Niall Collins said the proposals as outlined did not fully reflect those recommended under the Quirke scheme, which included full pension rights and an enhanced medical card.

He said this was a shame and a lost opportunity, given the indefinite incarceration and grave breach of the human rights of the women involved.

Minister Fitzgerald said the only service that is not included in the bill relates to "alternative therapies".

The bill does not make any provision for the therapies of homeopathy, angel healing and aromatherapy as there are no proven medical benefits for such therapies, she said.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said it was vital that the experience of the women in the Magdalene Laundries was acknowledged, adding that the assertion by the McAleese report that there was no sexual abuse was at odds with the survivors' testimony.

Mr Justice John Quirke, who leads the Law Reform Commission, was asked by the Government in mid-2013 to propose forms of redress for the Magdalene Survivors.

Medical card guidelines to be revised

The Minister for Health has said that the clinical advisory group on discretionary medical cards will widen discretion further to take into account medical hardship and the burden of an illness on an individual and their family, regardless of income.

Minister Leo Varadkar said that the group will have three months to draw up revised guidelines around which officials and medical officers can decide to disregard the means test.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said the number of discretionary medical cards in circulation has already gone up from 50,000 this time last year to 75,000 this year.


Mr Varadkar said the group will stay in place for two years so that it can keep reviewing the guidelines.

Jonathan Irwin, CEO of the Jack and Jill Foundation, said the situation has improved since the minister announced discretionary medical cards eligibility reforms in November 2014.

Speaking on the same programme, Mr Irwin said there is still one major hurdle to overcome, which is that the child should be assessed as an individual in their own right.

Mr Irwin said the current system of means testing parents is "so cruel", as parents who fail the means test feel they have let down their child.

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Lack of objectivity in selection of the individual institutions

Government backbencher abstains from mother-and-baby vote

Wednesday 28 January 2015 23.46
Anne Ferris criticised the lack of objectivity in the Govt's selection of the 14 individual institutions
Anne Ferris criticised the lack of objectivity in the Govt's selection of the 14 individual institutions

A Government backbencher has abstained on votes on the draft terms of reference of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Related Matters.

Tánaiste Joan Burton described Labour TD Anne Ferris' differences with the Government over its draft order as a "slight" one.

Ms Ferris, who spent her first days in a mother-and-baby home, criticised the lack of objectivity in the Government's selection of the 14 individual institutions the commission is to investigate.

"This inquiry requires great sensitivity, an open door and a listening ear for all the witnesses to this dark corner of Ireland's past, regardless of the title above the door of the institution where they once lived".

She said the sorrow and cruelty endured by all former residents was equal, and that legislators should not discriminate against some.

"I therefore cannot put my name to this proposal," she said.

Her remarks were greeted with applause in the chamber.

The Labour Party leadership tonight said there is "no question of disciplinary action" against Ms Ferris over her abstention on the two votes.

A spokesperson for Ms Burton said that the party recognises Ms Ferris' concerns with the Government motion "because of her own personal story and appreciates how very difficult this issue has been for her".

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald demanded that thousands of excluded survivors, including former residents of Co Wicklow's former Protestant Westbank Orphanage, be added to the commission's remit.

She told Minister for Children James Reilly, who is steering the measure through the Oireachtas, that if all these victims and survivors represent an experience of second class citizenship, then those he "chose to exclude are now doubly hurt as second class victims".

She said it was important to identify those who bore criminal responsibility for abuse of women and children, and argued that reparations where necessary in the service of justice.

Ms McDonald said: "We're not satisfied with the commission's terms of reference, not least because it will surely and by design exclude from its remit and consideration literally thousands of victims of human rights violations.

"There's no guarantee here for the Magdalene women previously and wrongly denied the right to a full Commission of Investigation into their particular institutional experience; no guarantee for the illegally adopted or fostered or boarded out children whose very worst experiences may well fall outside the express terms of this commission's remit."

Labour backbencher Robert Dowds sought clarification from the minister.

He said people who had been in institutions not listed by the Draft Order on the terms of reference should be told whether it is possible for them to contribute to the commission's work.

"Some representatives of survivors of Protestant institutions want to know whether their stories can be told," said Mr Dowds.

He added that the testimony of survivors of excluded Catholic institutions was no less important.

Richard Boyd Barrett, the adopted son of an unmarried mother, welcomed the State's "belated response" to survivor power and appealed to Minister Reilly "not to fall at the last hurdle".

He urged Mr Reilly to include the full range of bodies responsible for abusing unmarried mothers and their children.

He said a "complete architecture of repression" had worked as "an integrated whole" and that full redress should be given to all who sought it.

Another adoptee, Tánaiste Joan Burton, said Ms Ferris and she had a slight difference over the terms of reference.

She said she had sought legal advice and is confident there will still be scope for former residents of those institutions not specified in the terms of reference to be heard.

The Labour Party leader also emphasised that Temple Hill, in Blackrock, Co Dublin, the Catholic institution from which she was adopted, is not on the list of 14 institutions to be investigated.

Yet she knew many of her "co-graduates" who were going to contribute to the commission.

Replying to the debate, Minister Reilly said he had responded to some legislators' concerns by making a technical amendment to definitively include widows and separated women who lived in the homes in the commission's remit.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said he recognised Ms Ferris' disappointment that the former Westbank Home in Greystones, Co Wicklow is not included but stressed that the decision was "thought out at length and has the support of Government".

The minister sought to assuage doubts by highlighting clause six in the draft terms of reference permitting the commission to recommend further investigations.

He told the House he believed it would allow the commission to hear the stories of those who spent time in orphanages not specified in the terms of reference and to make a further determination to recommend to him what further investigations might take place.

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Thousands of victims excluded

Inquiry set to exclude ‘thousands of victims’


Tens of thousands of unmarried women and girls whose children are victims of serious human rights violations will be excluded from the upcoming mother and baby homes inquiry, it has been claimed.

The second Dáil debate on the terms of reference for the inquiry heard from both opposition and Government TDs, who called for the experience of all unmarried women and their children to be included in the terms of reference, rather than just those linked to the 14 named institutionsLabour’s Anne Ferris became emotional when recounting her own experience as both an adopted person and a natural mother who had “her little girl taken from me”.

Ms Ferris said she could not vote in favour of the terms of reference as proposed by the Government, citing its prioritising certain institutions over others.

“There is no guarantee that a former child resident of an orphanage, or a mother who worked in a laundry under threat of hunger and violence, without pay, will get the opportunity to tell their story to anyone. This is not only deeply wrong, it is shortsighted,” she said.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said there was a “stubborn refusal” to take the issue seriously by successive governments and described the terms of reference as a “missed opportunity”.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said that although the institution she was resident in before being herself adopted — Temple Hill — was excluded from the terms of reference, she was “confident that there will still be scope for stories from those institutions to be heard”.

Responding to calls for the terms to be widened, Children’s Minister James Reilly said the commission of inquiry could make any recommendations it considers appropriate in relation to matters that lie outside its specific remit.

However, he said the Government was satisfied that to characterise other institutions, such as orphanages, as mother and baby homes, would “dissipate the focus of the commission in a manner that would make an already mammoth task so dilute that the very answers we seek for those at the centre of this — mothers and babies — would be unachievable”.


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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Mother and baby homes inquiry

Mother and baby homes inquiry terms ‘fail to reference justice or redress’


Natural mothers have hit out at the terms of the mother and baby home inquiry for failing to reference justice or redress for those affected.


The criticisms come in advance of the second debate on the issue to be held in the Dáil this evening. The Government is under mounting pressure to include Magdalene Laundries, private adoption agencies and a myriad of related institutions in the inquiry.In a statement, the Irish First Mothers Group said the failure to mention justice or redress meant the Commission “fails the standard for such inquiries as identified in a 2014 UN human rights review which found that Irish inquiries and redress schemes failed to meet the UN standard for ‘thorough and effective investigations’”.

The group also hit out at the fact that, under section 19 of the Commissions of Investigations Act 2004, statements and documents given to the commission are inadmissable as evidence against a person in any criminal or other proceedings.

“There is no formal arrangement for prosecutors to act on or review evidential material as it emerges — with a view to gathering testimony outside the ambit of the commission for worthwhile prosecutions.

Nor have any special Garda resources been allocated to support any such review or prosecutions,” it said.

The Department of Justice said the while the commission does not bring criminal charges or take prosecutions, if its reports reveal instances of criminality these will be referred to gardaí.

“The minister would also encourage any person with complaints relating to matters of a potentially criminal nature to report these concerns directly to the gardaí.

There is no requirement to await this commission’s consideration of such matters,” said a statement.

This advice comes despite adoption campaigners pointing out that tens of thousands of adopted people and natural parents have no legal right to copies of all material held, or not held in their adoption files, which may prove such illegality.

Meanwhile, an ebook entitled Adoptileaks was issued to all TDs and senators. Written by Paul Redmond of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes (CMABS), it examines over two decades of local government reports on mother and baby homes revealing infant mortality rates at multiples of the national rate.

The study shows that international comparisons found Ireland was far worse than Britain in its mortality rates for ‘illegitimate’ children.


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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No longer a priority - Then again we never were?


Search continues for site to remember victims of abuse


A site is still being sought in Dublin for a memorial to victims of institutional abuse, after a €31,000 spend on an earlier unsuccessful plan.



An Bord Pleanála refused permission for the proposed Journey of Light project to the rear of the Garden of Remembrance in November 2013.

The design was chosen from a competition run on foot of a recommendation of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in 2009 to commemorate those who suffered.

Victims’ organisations were represented on a committee set up to oversee the design and commissioning of a memorial with a €500,000 budget.In July 2012, they picked a design for a civic area with water features, seating ,and with the words of the Government apology to abuse victims to be engraved in the walls.

But after the planning appeals board took issue with the proposed overlap of the memorial on Parnell Square with the Garden of Remembrance, it was decided to look for another location.

The Department of Education said the memorial committee has advised it that the Journey of Light proposal was not transferable to another site, as it was inextricably linked with the Garden of Remembrance.

“The committee considered that any new competition should be open to conceptual and site-specific proposals, and that a central Dublin location be identified on a cost-neutral basis with appropriate zoning,” a department spokesperson said.

Consultations are now taking place between the department, the Office of Public Works (OPW), and Dublin City Council to identify a suitable location in the centre of Dublin, and to decide how best to progress the project.

The spokesperson said a capital provision of €500,000 is provided for the memorial in the department’s 2015 budget.

A sum of €31,000 was spent on the design and planning process for the Journey of Light proposal.


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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Ignored again and again

Pressure to widen scope of baby home inquiry


The Government is under mounting pressure to include Magdalene laundries, private adoption agencies and a myriad of related institutions in the upcoming mother and baby home inquiry.



The Dáil debate on the terms of reference saw a succession of opposition politicians add their voices to those of adoption campaigners who have expressed concern that the investigation will be limited to only the practices and procedures of institutions, adoption agencies, and individuals with a direct connection to a mother and baby home.

The Adoption Rights Alliance has pointed out that potentially tens of thousands of women gave birth in state and private maternity homes and suffered the same fate of forced and illegal adoptions but, if they did not have a link to a mother and baby home, would be excluded.

Sinn Féin spokesman on children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said successive governments had failed to address the issue and called for the list of 14 institutions named in the terms of reference to be expanded to include the Magdalene Laundries, the Westbank orphanage, and all the activities of private adoption agencies.

“While I acknowledge and welcome that the number of institutions referenced in the terms of inquiry has been expanded, I am mindful of the fact that there are a significant number of people who will feel excluded and marginalised, even shunned by the Government’s refusal to include the institution or setting that dominates their childhood memory,” he said.

Fianna Fáil’s children’s spokesman Robert Troy said it was crucial that nobody was “left out in the cold” and stressed that the scale of forced and illegal adoptions was not just confined to mother and baby homes.

“This investigation begins and ends with the prescribed list of mother and baby homes. The Adoption Rights Alliance fears that this leaves in the region of 60% to 70% of all unmarried girls and women whose children were forcefully adopted beyond the scope of the investigation.

“We need to revisit this minister, we need to revisit the exclusion of private adoption agencies because it is well documented and there is evidence of abuse in the adoption system and it would be best to deal with this by way of the Commission.”

Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan said that given the “grave concerns about the outstanding issues from the McAleese report” and the level of transfer of women between mother and baby homes and Magdalene Laundries, it was essential that they be included in the inquiry.

Children’s Minister Dr James Reilly said he believed that the terms of reference reflected the range of matters that the Government was asked to consider.

Responding to calls for widening the terms of reference, Dr Reilly said the commission could make any recommendations it considers appropriate in relation to matters that lie outside its specific remit.

Under terms of reference, the inquiry will investigate how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 14 State-linked religious institutions.


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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Yet again Government fail victims

Fears over scope of mother and baby home probe


Adoption campaigners have again expressed concerns that tens of thousands of people could be excluded from the mother and baby home inquiry.



Ahead of a Dáil debate on the terms of reference for the inquiry today, the Adoption Rights Alliance expressed fears that the investigation will be limited to only the practices and procedures of institutions, adoption agencies and individuals with a direct connection to a mother and baby home.

The group said that if the scope of the inquiry was not widened, tens of thousands of mothers who gave birth in State and private maternity homes but suffered the same fate of forced and illegal adoptions as those born in mother and baby homes would be excluded.

Under terms of reference, the inquiry will investigate how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 14 State-linked religious institutions.

The three-year inquiry — which has a €23.5m budget and may cost millions more in redress — will examine mother and baby homes, county homes, vaccine trials on children, and illegal adoptions where babies were trafficked abroad.

Susan Lohan of ARA said while the group welcomed the fact that the inquiry will investigate the issue of full and informed consent of natural mothers, as well as the placement of children in Ireland and abroad, it was critical that thousands of forced and illegal adoptions not connected to mother and baby homes be examined.

“The motion agreed by the Dáil on June 11 last year explicitly and only refers to mother and baby homes. We are calling on the Government to immediately amend Clause 1 of the terms of reference to include other institutions affecting unmarried mothers and their children born outside of wedlock.”

“We are concerned that despite the minister’s best intentions to broaden the scope of the investigation into the large group of private institutions, the commission could leave itself open to legal challenge from those institutions not defined in the schedule to the terms of reference,” she said.

The Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors broadly welcomed the terms and said they included the vast majority of its issues and concerns.

Meanwhile, archaeologist and anthropologist Toni Maguire, who discovered up to 11,000 unmarked graves in Miltown Cemetery, Belfast, said there was no specific detail as to how the issue of mass graves at Tuam and in other mother and baby home sites will be investigated.

“There is no specific detail within the terms of reference as to how the systematic investigation into the location of these graves will be carried out, no mention of the investigation into the potential for human remains in the tunnels under the building [in Tuam]; in fact reference to the recovery of any potential remains attached to the sites under investigation is conspicuous by its absence,” she said.

Ms Maguire said she sent a number of recommendations to the office of Children’s Minister James Reilly and offered to meet and inform him of what had been identified from a non-invasive survey of Bessborough, Sean Ross Abbey, and Tuam, but this offer was declined.


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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Letters Irish Times

Mother and baby inquiry


Wed, Jan 21, 2015, 01:10

Sir, – It is a truly sad thing to have to say that we live in a society that is almost weary of reports of child abuse scandals, how they were covered up by all and sundry from high office on down, how the perpetrators were moved on or moved up and how the victims were hushed up and forgotten.

Yet the letter (January 20th) from Cailin Anderson and others was still poignant and shocking.

To think that terms of reference are being written that still make many victims of the Bethany home and Westbank orphanage feel excluded and alienated, rather than trying to welcome them in a redress and reconciliation process, is shocking and unacceptable.

What is the point of having an inquiry if it leaves the victims where they have been for so long – on the outside and not being listened to? – Yours, etc,


Bandon, Co Cork.

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Court rejected appeal

Former priest loses sex assault appeal


A former priest and school principal has had his appeal against his conviction for the sexual abuse rejected.



Con Desmond, aged 79, with an address as Woodlands, Kilrush Rd, Ennis, Co Clare, had pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of indecently assaulting a pupil at St Stephen’s De La Salle National School in Waterford between 1978 and June 1980.

He was found guilty by a jury at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to two years on each count in February 2013 .

Desmond’s appeal, on grounds of delay and conflicting evidence, was rejected by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Giving background to the case, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan said the first incident occurred in January 1978 when the boy, who was aged eight at the time, had gotten very wet cycling to school.

The evidence was that his teacher, a Brother Aengus, had sent him to the principal’s office, possibly with a view to getting him dried off or sending him home as he was soaked, the judge said.

He was abused by Desmond on that occasion and gave extensive details about the events, Mr Justice Ryan said.

The other 12 charges extended from a time when the boy was in third class and fourth class, said Mr Justice Ryan. The victim said he had been among other boys who had helped the school by setting a table, laying the table, and cleaning up afterwards.

Mr Justice Ryan said the victim described how, every other Saturday or so,Desmond abused him in similar fashion to the first instance.

Colman Cody, counsel for Desmond,submitted that there was a long, general delay in bringing the case.

Mr Cody submitted that a witness, Brother Aengus who died some 10 or 12 years ago, could have potentially relevant evidence in the case, which meant delay had resulted in actual prejudice.

Mr Justice Ryan said it was “not uncommon” to have absent or unavailable witnesses and one had to ask whether the evidence was potentially relevant to the liability of the accused.

On any view, he said, it was “impossible to see how Brother Aengus could have any significant evidence” that would impact on Desmond’s guilt or culpability.

The court rejected the proposition that absence by reason of Brother Aengus’s death could represent a degree of prejudice.


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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Times Letters page

Mother and baby homes inquiry


Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 01:06

Sir, – We wish to express serious reservations about the recently published draft terms of reference of the forthcoming inquiry into mother and baby homes, and related matters.

We have every confidence in the capacity of the distinguished members of the commission to investigate. We are not confident that the commission will be allowed to examine lives blighted outside institutions where unmarried mothers were forced to abandon their children.

The terms of reference mention “exit pathways” from mother and baby homes. It is not clear if such pathways will lead up the entrance path of similarly dysfunctional institutions to which abandoned children were sent.

For example, some of the undersigned were sent from the Bethany Home to the Westbank Orphanage in Wicklow, which had the same Protestant fundamentalist ethos as Bethany. The orphanage had one main purpose, to raise money for the institution, with one main effect, the denial of a right of adoption to most children. Children were paraded in front of gullible but sincere church congregations in Northern Ireland as the South’s poor Protestant orphans. We were, in fact, exploited, unpaid, professional orphans, illegally transported back and forth over the Border. Some “children” remained in Westbank, which closed in 2002, into their twenties. Many suffered systemic physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

We insist on being allowed to tell the Commission of Inquiry of our experiences.

If we succeed, and lives of children who arrived from Bethany are examined, that will leave those who arrived from other “pathways”.

They arrived sometimes direct from maternity hospitals, or from the Braemar House Mother and Baby Home, Cork, which (unaccountably) is not listed in the terms of reference. Their situation too should be investigated. Similarly, the exit pathway from the Church of Ireland Magdalen Home to its associated Nursery Rescue Society, which farmed out children from the age of three, should also be examined.

We demand to know why we were abandoned and ignored by regulatory authorities.

It is time for the State to accept responsibility. The draft terms of reference should be tightened and clarified so that our experience may be recognised, investigated and validated. – Yours, etc,


(Bethany Home,

Westbank Orphanage)

Kilwinning, Ayrshire;


(Westbank Orphanage,

Bethany Home),


Co Cork;



(Bethany Home,

Westbank Orphanage),


Co Wicklow;


(Westbank Orphanage),

Langhorne, Pennsylvania;


(Westbank Orphanage),

Richill, Co Armagh;


(Church of Ireland Magdalen

Home, Nursery Rescue


Stamullen, Co Meath;


(Bethany Home),




(Bethany Home),


Co Dublin;


(Braemar House,

Westbank Orphanage)

Bangor, Co Down;


(Bethany Home,

Westbank Orphanage)

Newtownards, Co Down.

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Magdalene Laundries

Government urged to honour Magdalene pledges

Monday 19 January 2015 14.22

A new bill providing for Magdalene women's healthcare makes no mention of a special medical card
A new bill providing for Magdalene women's healthcare makes no mention of a special medical card

The Government has been challenged to honour its promise to provide survivors of Magdalene laundries with the healthcare services recommended in the Quirke report 18 months ago.

Advocates for the women say new draft legislation represents an unacceptable paring back of what the Government promised as part of the women's redress package.

It is almost two years since Taoiseach Enda Kenny apologised emotionally to the 10,000-plus women who he said had been incarcerated and socially suffocated in Magdalene laundries in Ireland since 1922.

Mr Justice John Quirke was then tasked with designing a restorative justice scheme, which the Government accepted.

It included a special medical card which had originally been designed to help survivors of the Hepatitis-C scandal.

But the new bill providing for the Magdalene women's healthcare makes no mention of the special card.

In a statement, the Justice for Magdalene Research group says that the draft law promises little more than the regular medical card, which most of the women already have.

The National Women's Council of Ireland accuses the Government of denying survivors the pension entitlements Justice Quirke recommended they should have.

He said they should be treated as if they had made full pension contributions.

But the council says the Government is refusing to back-date the pension entitlements for women beyond August 2013.

Justice for Magdalenes Research says the Government has also ignored the judge's recommendation to extend the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 to Magdalene women who lack full capacity, so that applications to the Magdalene scheme can be made on their behalf and their assets can be managed by a court-appointed representative in their best interests.

The group says it is imperative that legislation is introduced immediately to protect women in institutionalised settings, to provide independent advocates and ensure that their interests are protected.

Supporting JFMR, Amnesty International reiterated its criticisms of the Government's statement that the McAleese Report on the laundries was the result of a comprehensive investigation of the scandal.

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Survivors at odds with Government

How many died in Magdalene laundries? Survivors at odds with Government on the figures

Justice for Magdalenes is preparing a critique on the McAleese report into the Magdalene laundries.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE JUSTICE FOR Magdalenes Research (JFMR) group have said they “are not going to stop what [they're] doing” as they prepare to release a critique of the McAleese Report.

The government-appointed report was released in November 2013 and was heavily criticised by the JFMR survivors group.

How many survivors?

The JFMR are currently preparing a full critique of Martin McAleese’s report, and intends on issuing the first tranche on 19 February, the anniversary of the Government’s apology to Magdalene survivors.

The group said it has identified 1,663 people who died in Magdalene laundries, which is almost twice the McAleese report’s figure of 879, the Irish Examiner reports.

“I suppose we’ve first of all realised that pretty much everything that we submitted [to the committee putting together the McAleese report], certainly on deaths, was ignored,” claimed a spokesperson for JFMR.

Speaking to, the spokesperson said that “adding to what we already submitted to McAleese, what we’ve been finding is our research results are completely different to what McAleese alleges in terms of length of stay and the lived experience of the women”.

When asked about the discrepancy, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that:

The Justice for Magdalene research seems to go back to the 19th century and continue after the Magdalene laundries closed, whereas the McAleese commission was only tasked with looking at figures from 1922 to the closure of Magdalene laundries.

JFMR have access to the late Mary Raftery’s archive, and have used information from that as part of their critique.

“I think the Government wants to put this issue to bed,” said the spokesperson. “I think it would be far easier if the issue would just go away.”

We’re certainly not going to stop what we’re doing. These women deserve to be honoured and remembered. It has always been about the dead as much as the living.

They have also called for the laundries to be included in the recently-announced commission for investigation into the mother-and-baby homes, and are hoping that the forthcoming report would encourage the Government to “reconsider its position on that”.

Read: “Huge traffic” between Magdalene laundries and mother-and-baby homes>

Read: Magdalene women share nearly €9m in compensation – but still waiting on healthca

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Listen to us?

Mother and baby home survivors must be heard


Last Friday marked a day of hope mixed with despair. I, a natural mother, sat and listened to the proposed terms and references of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission.



These terms of reference were compiled in such a way that no legal action can ever be brought by me before the courts.

In my own case, I was abducted from the UK, imprisoned in such an institution operating under the guise of a mother and haby home.

In their inhumane treatment of expectant mothers and their profitable contracts with pharmaceutical companies, they treated us like rats in a laboratory test.

They didn’t see us as genuine young innocent human beings. And then they sold our babies - sold our children to the US export market. Myself and many other woman received training in free slave labour.

The rights of expectant mothers, fathers and innocent babies were violated in every respect of the word. I can only hope that those outside of this country will do their utmost, to ensure justice is served for us women and for our babies.

I hope many of us live to see the day when all those involved will be named and shamed.

To all my soul sisters whom are still hiding behind the veils of lies, secrets and betrayal, be not afraid anymore, they can never harm you again. Find your voice once more, only this time let your screams be heard.

Terri Harrison

Seventh Lock Cottages

Killeen Road

Co Dublin

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Mother and baby homes inquiry

Terms of reference for mother and baby homes inquiry are unacceptable


We, the undersigned, express serious reservations about the recently published draft terms of reference of the forthcoming southern Irish inquiry into mother and baby homes, and related matters.



We have every confidence in the capacity of the distinguished members of commission to investigate. We are not confident that the commission will be allowed to examine lives blighted outside institutions where unmarried mothers were forced to abandon their children.

The terms of reference mention ‘exit pathways’ from mother & baby homes. It is not clear if such pathways will lead up the entrance path of similarly dysfunctional institutions to which abandoned children were sent.

For example, some of the undersigned were sent from Bethany Home to the Westbank Orphanage in Wicklow that had the same Protestant fundamentalist ethos as Bethany. The orphanage had one main purpose: to raise money for the institution and one main effect: the denial of a right of adoption to most children. Children were paraded in front of gullible but sincere church congregations in Northern Ireland as the south’s poor Protestant orphans. We were in fact exploited unpaid professional orphans, illegally transported back and forth over the border. Some ‘children’ remained in Westbank into their 20s. Many suffered systemic physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

We insist on being allowed to tell the Commission of Inquiry our experiences. If we succeed, and lives of children who arrived from Bethany are examined, that will leave those who arrived from other ‘pathways’. They arrived sometimes directly from maternity hospitals or from the Braemar House Mother and Baby Home Cork which (unaccountably) is not listed in the terms of reference. Their situation too should be investigated. Similarly, the exit pathway from the Church of Ireland Magdalen Home to its associated Nursery Rescue Society, that farmed out children from the age of three, should also be examined.We demand to know why we were abandoned and ignored by regulatory authorities.

Colm Begley (Westbank Orphanage, Bethany Home)

Clocha Liatha, Carrigadrohid, Co Cork

Helen Fitzpatrick (Westbank Orphanage

313 North Bellevue Ave, Langhorne, PA, USA

John Hill (CofI Magdalen Home, Nursery Rescue Society)

Rose Vale, Stedalt

Stamullen, Co Meath

Derek Leinster (Bethany Home)

42 Southey Rd

Rugby, Warwickshire, England

Joyce McSharry (Bethany Home)

15 Ashgrove, Baskin Lane

Kinsealy, Co Dublin

Victor Stevenson (Braemor House, Westbank Orphanage)

32 Rathmore Avenue,

Bangor, Co Down

Andrew Yates (Bethany Home, Westbank Orphanage)

22 Saratoga Avenue Newtownards, Co Down


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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Ireland's sorrow and our shame


Tuam babies burial site

Can one express with deep sorrow and regret what has happened in Ireland since it gained its independence.

And what we have read over the last two weeks.


The Irish Government gave the Catholic Church the right to decide that women, babies and children that were born out of wedlock and born in the Bethany homes were less then subhuman, and decided women who wore a habit and swore an allegiance to God were the best people to look after babies and children.


These women’s births, deaths, baptism certificates are all missing.


They were used in vaccine trials.


Children were charged and sentenced, sent through the courts for a bounty to the industrial schools for up to 16 years, where their welfare was never checked.


Children were sent to Magdalene Laundries and mental homes.


Then we have Éamon de Valera in 1939 bring out his own starving order, re-enacted it again after the war in 1945 with venom.


People who joined the British forces suffered an emergency order made by the Irish Government to penalise certain named deserters from its armed forces.


Their children were then sentenced to the industrial schools. The Government gave the British Government the bill for the children and the British government paid.


This information went on to your committal papers when children were sent to the industrial schools, and that you were illegitimate like it states on mine. But no country of birth.


There were also a lot of foreign children put into these industrial schools. Yet there are no details for the above mentioned about this in the child abuse commissions report.


Operation Shamrock was the name of a plan to bring German children to Ireland from post-Second World War Germany. Between 1945 and 1946, the Irish Red Cross Operation Shamrock resettled over a 1,000 from Germany, Austria, France, and England.


Most were later repatriated to their homelands, but some were adopted by their Irish host families. None were to be put into the industrial schools.


This happened while our own were rotting in these institutions, dying, starved, beaten, abused, working hard labour, year in and year out and still nobody cared.


I also wonder if the women in the Magdalene Laundries were allowed to vote at the elections. If not why not?


Because even after Ireland joined the EU in 1973 people were free to travel freely to EU countries.


If this same right was denied to the Magdalene women they were prisoners. So you had a state within a state, where the Government allowed this to happen and gave the religious orders the right to do what they wanted and not be accountable to anyone.


Kathy Ferguson

Jacox Crescent

England CV8 2NJ

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reservedIreland

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Some lives are valued more than others?

Magdalene Laundries: 

The closed-off mass grave at the Good Shepherd Convent, Sunday's Well, Cork.

Two recent incidents are instructive into how the memory of some lives are valued more than others in this country.

In October, the grave of the first leader of the Free State WT Cosgrave was vandalised in Goldenbridge Cemetery in Dublin.


It caused a level of outrage that warranted Garda crime scene officials to attend and photograph the scene and launch an investigation.


Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan took to Twitter to label the desecration of the grave an act “beneath contempt”.


Then, at the end of November, a 2m-high cross marking the summit of Carrauntoohil was felled. It marks no final resting place but gardaí were reported to be treating the incident with the “utmost seriousness”.


In fact, Kerry’s most experienced detectives were expected to visit the summit of the mountain to photograph and forensically examine the scene.


Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae labelled the person or people that carried out such “an outrageous act” as “some sort of antichrist”.


In February 2013, this newspaper reported on the mass grave of Magdalene women at the site of the former Good Shepherd Magdalene laundry in Cork.


The large headstone contained the name of 30 women who died in the care of the order between 1882 and 1983. The large cross above the headstones which marks the final resting place of the women had been smashed into pieces.


It lay inaccessible in an overgrown part of the complex, outside the convent walls but behind a 3m-high wall covered in razor wire. The gate had been welded shut.


The headstone and names were only placed on the grave by the Order following a campaign by a former resident of the laundry, Mary Norris, in the late 1990s. The nuns are buried in a separate and well-kept area of the property.


Some of the women listed on the headstone are also listed on another Magdalene grave in another part of Cork City. The Order could offer no explanation as to why these names were duplicated and as to where the exact resting place of these women was.


Three of the duplicated names now have asterisks attached with a footnote stating: “Interred in Residents Plot Sunday’s Well”. However, no explanation has been offered for a woman listed twice on the headstone with two different dates of death.


By contrast, the nuns were buried inside the convent walls with individual crosses marking their graves.


Esther Harrington died in the care of the Order in July 1987. She had spent 70 years in Sunday’s Well Magdalene laundry in Cork, entering at age 14 and remaining there until her death at 84.


Her grave was not even marked until her great-niece, Rose Brien Harrington from Cobh, began asking questions of the Order last year. Esther’s name was eventually added to the Magdalene grave headstone in St Joseph’s Cemetery in Cork in March last year — more than a quarter of a century after her death. The Order apologised for what it termed an “oversight”. The death certificate supplied to her great niece by the order cites her as being 81 when she died when, in fact, she was 84.


Nearly two years later, the grave at Sunday’s Well still lies vandalised. The weeds have grown higher. The razor wire remains. The gate is still welded shut. Questions over how many women and where exactly the women are buried remain unanswered.


No investigation was carried out. No team of gardaí has sealed off the site. No photographs were taken. No forensic examination was carried out. The vandalising of the final resting place of women who received no dignity in life, let alone death, has never been a matter of the “utmost seriousness” for authorities.


No government minister took to Twitter to decry this desecration as being “beneath contempt” or an “outrageous act”. The people responsible for the graves have never been labelled “antichrist”.


The women buried in Sunday’s Well are deemed lucky enough to have a headstone. Many more who never left the laundries lie in unmarked graves. Forgotten. Ignored.


In mother and baby homes dotted around the country, the children of women just like these lie in more mass graves. We have to wait and see whether any meaningful investigation will ever occur into this scandal.


The memory of these mothers and children matters less than that of a 2m iron cross on the top of a remote mountain.


Dead male heroes have always been glorified in this country as almost a national fetish.


Maybe it’s time we started honouring some more heroes.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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Truth hidden behind wall of silence

Magdalene Laundries: 

The derelict ruins of Good Shepherd Convent, Sunday's Well, Cork. The report states that there are two burial sites on the grounds of the former laundry.  Picture: Denis Scannell

It is imperative each woman’s final resting place is accurately recorded, writes Claire McGettrick

LAST YEAR, thanks to the tireless work of Catherine Corless, the world was made aware of the 796 babies that lay forgotten in Tuam.


Those of us who have campaigned on these issues were on the one hand relieved that the world was finally taking notice but on the other, we thought: ‘They don’t know the half of it.’


In the case of deaths in the Magdalene laundries, the inter-departmental committee on the laundries (IDC) made sure we only knew the half of it.


The McAleese report acknowledges that just over half of the 1,638 women (that we are aware of) died in these institutions.


Justice for Magdalenes (now JFM Research; JFMR) was established on foot of serious questions raised by the late Mary Raftery about the exhumations at the former Magdalene laundry at High Park.


For our organisation and for survivors, the campaign was always as much about the dead as it was for the living.


Unfortunately, the IDC report did nothing to answer our questions or allay our concerns for those who died behind convent walls.


Instead of answering questions on the serious issues surrounding deaths in Magdalene laundries, chapter 16 of the IDC report gives exclusive attention to the religious orders’ version of events and completely ignores survivor testimony (both written and verbal) as well as substantial submissions from JFMR raising concerns about the funeral and burial practices in the laundries.


Instead of affording respect to all women who died in the laundries by giving them the dignity of simply being counted, the IDC report goes to extraordinary lengths to minimise the full extent of deaths behind laundry walls.


To date, JFMR has recorded the details of 1,638 women who died in the laundries. We are aware of other women whose names and burial places we do not yet know and our work continues in trying to find them. This figure accounts for the women who died between the date that each laundry opened until the present day.


Although we make an attempt below, it is impossible to produce a post-1922 figure from JFMR records to compare with the IDC’s findings because of the report’s evasive presentation of the data.


It is reprehensible that most of the issues which confound our attempt to understand the IDC report’s data were completely avoidable.


The IDC report concedes that there were 879 deaths within Magdalene laundries between 1922 and each laundry’s closure. It is quick to point out that 35.9% of these deaths were so-called legacy cases — women who entered the laundries prior to December 6, 1922, and remained after the foundation of the State.


Put another way, however, this tells us that 41.3% of the 762 ‘legacy cases’ died behind laundry walls and never saw the outside world again.


Incredibly, and for reasons best known to the IDC, ‘legacy cases’ were not included in the report’s statistics for levels of State involvement.


Speaking plainly, the women entered the institutions when Ireland was under British rule and, consequently, the IDC disclaimed any responsibility for their fate, even after the foundation of the State.


It is worth pointing out that this figure of 41.3% may well be higher. However, we cannot be certain because, in a move without a modicum of compassion, the IDC chose (without explanation) to exclude the deaths of women who remained institutionalised after the closure of each of the laundries.


In fact, the report fails to quantify any of these deaths. JFMR’s current records show that, to date, at least 222 women fall into this category.


As part of its various submissions to the IDC, we included information gathered as part of the Magdalene Names Project, a JFMR initiative which examines various archives and records, including gravestones, digitised census records, electoral registers, exhumation orders, and newspaper archives.


All of these materials were ignored in the IDC report. In ignoring this research, the IDC dismissed many women whose experiences reveal a very different reality to what was depicted by the committee.


For example, JFMR brought to the IDC’s attention 141 cases of women who were recorded in the 1901 and/or 1911 census and who died in the laundries.


In contrast to the IDC’s assertion that most women spent less than a year confined, the majority of these women spent between 11 and 74 years in the laundries, but again, the IDC completely ignored this data.


It is worth taking a moment to remember that behind these facts and figures are real women who lived and died in these institutions.


Allow us to introduce you to just three of the women who were conveniently compartmentalised into the category of ‘legacy cases’ and ignored by the IDC.


-Alice K was 29 years old when she was recorded in the 1911 Census for the Peacock Lane laundry in Cork.


Her census entry states that she could read and write and that she was from Cork. Alice’s ‘occupation’ is recorded as ‘laundress’.


On November, 26, 1961, an Alice O’K died and was interred in the Peacock Lane grave site at St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork.


If this is the same woman who appeared in the 1911 Census, the data reveals that Alice spent a minimum of 50 years at Peacock Lane.


-At the age of 28, Agnes D appears in the 1901 Census record for High Park Laundry.


Her record shows that she could read and write and that she was from Dublin. Agnes’s relationship to the head of the house is noted as ‘inmate’, while her ‘occupation’ is recorded as ‘laundress’.


The 1911 Census was recorded differently at High Park, with only initials used for each woman. An ‘A.D.’ is recorded as aged 34 and from Dublin City. Her ‘occupation’ (like all others on the form) is recorded as ‘domestic’.


An Agnes D is interred at the High Park burial site at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. She died on August, 4, 1967.


Agnes’s name does not appear on the exhumation licence and it is unclear whether or not she was one of those exhumed from High Park in 1993.


If this is the same woman who appeared in the census records, Agnes spent at least 66 years at High Park.


-Maggie M is recorded in the 1911 Census for the Good Shepherd Laundry in Limerick.


Maggie was just 18 at the time, and the record shows she was from Carlow and could read and write. Her ‘occupation’ is noted as ‘laundress’.


On December 2, 1985, Margaret M died and was interred at the Good Shepherd Laundry site at Mount St Oliver Cemetery in Limerick. If this is the same woman, Maggie was confined for her entire adult life, a minimum of 74 years in the Good Shepherd Laundry in Limerick.


QUITE a ‘legacy’ indeed. It is quite a spectacular failure that a committee tasked with establishing the ‘facts’ of State involvement with the Magdalene laundries could not manage to produce a breakdown by institution of how many women entered each laundry, even after 18 months with unparalleled access to the records of the religious orders.


This absurd omission makes it impossible to calculate the mortality rate for each laundry.


To make matters worse, the IDC report also fails to offer a breakdown of how many women are buried at how many individual burial sites in either public or convent cemeteries.


For example, in the case of the Good Shepherd laundry at Sunday’s Well in Cork, the report states that there are two burial sites on the grounds of the former laundry.


JFMR is aware of the location of one of these sites, but the report offers no assistance in locating the other.


The report also provides a list of public cemeteries where there are plots maintained by the religious orders, but again it does not offer a breakdown of how many sites exist in each cemetery and how many women are in each plot.


These elisions, along with the issues of unmarked graves and discrepancies on headstones, make it difficult to establish the full extent to which deaths are excluded from the report.


And they make it particularly difficult to understand the burial practices of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the order which is responsible for the exhumations at High Park.


The IDC report causes yet another obstacle by addressing laundries run by the Sisters of Mercy separately due to incomplete records.


JFMR has analysed the available data for the remaining six laundries, eliminating laundries run by the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity.


For these six laundries, the IDC report records a total of 507 women who died in the laundries from 1922 until each institution’s closure. JFMR records for these six laundries show a total of 689 women who died after 1922, which indicates that, for these six laundries, at least 182 women who died after the closure of the Magdalene laundries are excluded from the IDC report.


The report completely ignores the issue of unmarked graves and, in the section dealing with the High Park exhumations, there is a brief but inadequate discussion of discrepancies on headstones.


It is worth pointing out that, despite the IDC’s assertion that the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity were at ‘an advanced stage’ of rectifying the headstones, JFMR has established that just 10 new names have been added to the relevant gravestones since Mary Raftery’s investigation in 2003, but none of the new names match any of those on the exhumation licence.


Hence the original errors remain and nobody in our Government seems to have the courage to even attempt to persuade the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity to afford these women the dignity they deserve.


The IDC report then is cold comfort if one of these women happens to be your mother, sister, or grandmother.


For the relatives of Magdalene women, including adopted people whose mothers died in the Magdalene laundries or remain institutionalised in nursing homes under the control of the religious orders, it is imperative that each woman’s final resting place is accurately recorded.


At a bare minimum, the dead deserve to be honoured and their living relatives deserve the right to pay their respects.


In this regard, Maisie K, a survivor of the Sisters of Mercy laundry in Galway whose written testimony was also ignored by the IDC, put it best: “Somebody’s mother, some child’s mother and some mother’s child. And it’s an awful thing to think. You wouldn’t do it to a dog what they did. That you go up and down with no name. Magdalene children who were adopted come home; look for their parents’ grave and to find nothing — to find a grave with no name.”


It was our hope in JFM Research that the IDC report would help to restore dignity to the women and girls who died behind laundry walls and that, at the very least, each woman would be accounted for.


However, the report leaves more questions than answers. The religious orders’ version of events is allowed to go unchallenged, while survivor testimony is completely ignored.


The message from the IDC report is clear: As far as Church and State are concerned, the Magdalene women matter as little in death as they did in life.


There is no redress scheme that can compensate those who have lost everything.


If our Government will not show courage, then it is up to us as citizens. Isn’t it always?


The very least we can do for Alice, Agnes, and Maggie and all the other women who lost their lives behind laundry walls is to ensure they are honoured.


Find a Magdalene grave, lay a flower, and take a moment to remember.


Claire McGettrick is co-founder of JFM Research and co-ordinator of the Magdalene Names Project.


This piece is adapted from a critique of Chapter 16 of the IDC report.


The extract from ‘Maisie’s’ testimony is shared with permission.

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Inquiry may omit 'tens of thousands' of adoptions


Tens of thousands of people affected by the mother and baby homes scandal risk being excluded from a State investigation into the decades-long hidden crisis.

Campaign groups for children and women involved in the linked mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundry, and illegal adoption controversies revealed the concern after the high-profile inquiry was launched yesterday.


Under terms of reference published by Children’s Minister Dr James Reilly, the Government will finally investigate how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 14 State-linked religious institutions.


The three-year inquiry — which has a €23.5m budget and could result in a multi- million euro redress scheme — will examine mother and baby homes, county homes, vaccine trials on children, and illegal adoptions where babies were trafficked abroad.


The investigation will also be allowed to compel anyone, including pharmaceutical firms, to give evidence and all available files, and take criminal action against anyone who refuses. In addition, it can exhume land if it believes babies’ bodies were dumped, similar to the recent Tuam scandal.


However, despite the measures — which are expected to be signed off by the Dáil and Seanad later this month — campaign groups have warned that gaps remain.


Adoption Rights Alliance spokesperson Susan Lohan told the Irish Examiner the inquiry would most likely fail to look at “tens of thousands” of illegal adoptions from State hospitals. Because the illegal adoptions aspect is focused solely on mother and baby homes, cases not linked to the facilities — such as where babies were taken directly from hospitals — will not be included.


A spokesperson for Dr Reilly said the June 2014 Dáil motion sought an investigation into mother and baby homes.


He stressed a “very expansive interpretation” has been taken and that the inquiry can investigate other areas if necessary.


However, Ms Lohan said this can only take place if they “stumble on evidence” linking the cases to mother and baby homes and “relies on getting the evidence from groups in the first place”.


While the Magdalene laundries issue is being examined within the context of how women entered and left mother and baby homes, Amnesty International chief executive Colm O’Gorman said this is not enough. He rejected Dr Reilly’s suggestion that the issue has been addressed by the 2013 McAleese report, saying it was “in no way effective”.


He said “to imagine for one moment that this review can address the issues at a systemic level and exclude the Magdalene laundries from it is a nonsense”.


Adoption Authority of Ireland chair Dr Geoffrey Shannon said the group “will not be slow” in providing information relating to possible criminal wrongdoing.


Separately, Terry Harrison, who has not seen her son, now 42, since he was “taken out of his cot” at Bessboro, said she hopes to one day “name and shame” those to blame.

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Another inquiry?

Amnesty International call for inquiry into allegations of abuse in Mother and Baby homes in Northern Ireland



Members of the public at the mass grave in Tuam
Members of the public at the mass grave in Tuam

Amnesty International has called for an inquiry into allegations of decades of abuse suffered in Mother and Baby homes in Northern Ireland.

It comes after the Irish government published the terms of reference for a Commission of Investigation into such homes in the Republic of Ireland.

The Human Rights organisation accused Ministers in Northern Ireland of failing to respond to victims’ calls for a probe into abuse which they allege occurred in Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundry-type institutions in Northern Ireland over a period of decades.

Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, Patrick Corrigan said: “Women in Northern Ireland have told Amnesty they suffered arbitrary detention, forced labour, ill-treatment, and the removal and forced adoption of their babies - criminal acts in both domestic and international law.

“Two years after first asking, victims in Northern Ireland still cannot get an answer from Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness on whether there will be an inquiry here.

“The Northern Ireland institutional abuse inquiry leaves out cases of abuse which took place after the age of 18, leaving these women in complete legal limbo – North and South.

“The Northern Ireland Executive must now urgently consider a separate inquiry mechanism for these cases.”

Amnesty International has identified twelve Mother and Baby Homes or Magdalene Laundry-type institutions which operated in Northern Ireland in the last century.

The organisation said that in May 2013 they published research into abuses in Northern Ireland’s Magdalene Laundry and Mother and Baby Home-type institutions, and supported victims’ calls for an investigation into the alleged abuse.

Amnesty International said "despite bringing abuse victims to meet Ministers at Stormont Castle in June 2013 and again in September 2014"victims have "received no answer to their calls for an inquiry".

Amnesty said two powerful United Nations committees have "urged the Northern Ireland Executive to investigate the abuse allegations of systemic abuse".



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Previously Published on this website

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010

    Default Abuse: Minutes of meeting with Taoiseach 15/04/2010

    Here is the minutes of the meeting with the govt and the survivor's group.

    I am glad that it is out in the open because i am not a member of any of these survivor's groups.

    I wonder is there another meeting to be followed up after this???

    Source: (Paddy Doyle website) for longer version of it.

    Follow-Up to Ryan Report (it's an edited version as the original report of this was too long as this forum would not allow it over 15000 max.) 

    3. The Taoiseach then invited each group represented to respond.

    4. Tom Hayes, Alliance, said there was a lack of accountability and transparency from Government and Government Agencies such as the Redress Unit. Because of these issues, Members of Alliance could not support a Fund run by the Government. The issues were:

    - Some survivor groups were overfunded, had salaried staff, etc.

    - no answers had been received as to the audited accounts of the ad-hoc Education Fund from 1997.

    - no action had been taken as a result of the Report into the Outreach Services in England, which says that many survivors will not use these Centres because of their religious connections.

    - no action had been taken vis-à-vis Right of Place in Cork or the Aislinn Centre in Dublin to regulate their funding. The Alliance wanted an investigation into the activities of Right of Place in Cork and the HSE’s handling of what is going on there.

    - Funding to groups had been a contentious issue and one that must be addressed now. The Alliance “expenses” amount from the Department of Education and Science for 2010 amounts to only €6,000, which was simply not sufficient, despite the fact that the Committee had complied as far as it could with all requests from the Redress Unit. Alliance Accounts continue to be audited annually with copies sent to the Department of Education and Science and the Redress Unit. Expenses are always based on the previous year’s activities, as are this year’s requests.
    - The Department of Education and Science only funded individuals who were willing to support Department policies, and while it gave the impression that it was engaging with other survivor groups, it never took their concerns on board. Also, it consistently used funded individuals to create the public perception that those individuals spoke on behalf of the majority of survivors.

    - Alliance had always recognised that there would be no more money for Redress. If there was to be a Fund, it was not education and counselling services that were needed now: victims’ needs had changed.

    John Kelly, Irish SOCA said he was deeply disappointed that prosecutions of individuals guilty of abuse in institutions had not happened. Irish SOCA was very concerned re the protection of the children of today and improving their lot. He doubted whether the State would in fact obtain a 50:50 contribution from the religious Congregations. He also questioned how the State would manage to liquidate the school playing fields offered by the Christian Brothers and indeed the properties offered generally, and suggested that the Congregations be invited into a buy-back scheme for the properties, an idea about which he said he had spoken to the bishops.

    As regards the Department of Education and Science, it had tried to limit each group to two representatives at today’s meeting but had then invited several extra groups, including two politicians – one a UK Labour party Councillor – and a salaried person. The Department would not give Irish SOCA a penny in funding. Later during the meeting, Mr Kelly said that he had no confidence in the Redress Unit of the Department. The Taoiseach rejected this view of the Unit.

    Marie Seo, also Irish SOCA, said that the consensus at Irish SOCA meetings had been against a Fund and that the Government should give the victims the money and let them look after themselves. She said that discussions on the proposed memorial should be stopped until the contributions from the religious congregations are sorted out and that they wanted the State to consult with the church regarding redress for the Magdalene women. Cardinal Brady was very supportive of the women that were placed in the laundries. She wanted to know how soon the discussions about the Fund would start.

    Gerard Lyons and Sean Leonard, Justice and Healing for Institutional Abuse said their Group questioned why the State was defending defenders in abuse trials and criticised the redress process. They felt that the State had taken advantage of people and shafted the victims. Also, there is no 50/50 contribution split as the State was 100% negligent and the religious congregations were 100% guilty of abusing them. They wanted no Fund and the playing fields being offered by the religious congregations had already been paid for by the local communities. The apology rang hollow, there is nothing for them in the present offer and the State did not and does not care. They had not got proper awards and only few people had got awards equivalent to High Court. Finally, it was disingenuous to expect them to read all the documents being released today.

    Michael O’Brien, Right to Peace said the Government was afraid to take on the religious and noted that Cardinal Brady had not been approached for a contribution from the bishops. In removing the social welfare Christmas bonus, the Government had removed it from victims. The Government would not put him into a home. He held up the Court document referring to him when he was being put into an institution as a child and said he wanted it corrected. He complained that Redress Board awards had been reduced when appealed and said he would bring taxpayers out to march for victims again as had been done last year. His organisation wanted no Trust Find, and he accused the Government of not caring for the victims and hoping they would die off. He noted that staff are paid out of the Education Fund. He also criticised the payment of money to groups. He wanted the bishops, religious, the government and victims’ representatives all brought together. He said there were victims dying in the streets in the UK and that victims are the most vulnerable people in the country.

    Christopher Heaphey, also of Right to Peace, said that the Government, the Church and the Religious Orders were all equally culpable for the crimes committed against victims. On top of this, the Government had entered into an indemnity deal with the Congregations for €128 million, or some €8,500 per victim. The deal was grotesquely wrong. The survivors had never been consulted about it. To add insult to injury, it was decided that €12.7 million would go to educate victims, but only 23% of survivors avail of the Education Fund. A further €10 million was set aside to give victims counselling but survivors did not want the Congregations to pay for their counselling. It was unclear where the balance of the €128 million had gone.

    Also, the Redress Scheme had included, without victims’ understanding or consent, a waiver that gave the Congregations a get-out clause for the crimes they had committed. Unless victims signed that waiver, they got no redress. Few survivors who signed it understand or understood its implications.

    The Government should take the necessary money from the Congregations and give it to the victims, €60,000 each.

    Tom Cronin, Irish Survivors of Institutional Abuse, noted that the victims’ groups would have no say re the property in the congregations’ offers, and so were left with the €110m cash offer. After last year’s meeting, there had been a terrible backlash from survivors, who argued that the representatives had had no standing to do a deal for 15,000 people, so the present offer was not going to be helpful. Very few people had got big awards from the Redress Board and many were in the 0- €50,000 bracket.
    He felt that the Education Finance Board was too restrictive and should be broadened.

    Paul Cronin, also Irish Survivors of Institutional Abuse, said it was a pity that they hadn’t got the reports of the assets of the religious congregations in advance of the meeting. He had suggested that the idea of pensions for former residents should be considered but wasn’t disappointed as he had felt the Government’s mind was made up.

    Carmel McDonnell Byrne from Aislinn, responding to criticism of groups made by earlier speakers, said that neither she nor Christine Buckley receives a salary. Aislinn’s funding from the State goes on heat, stationery, etc. Aislinn has two paid staff, of whom neither is a survivor. Christine Buckley had got a salary for four years out of twenty-six. She went on to make the following points:

    Aislinn very much welcomed the Fund proposal and the Memorial proposal.

    the Redress Board hearings had been very adversarial and the requirement that a victim must not reveal information about their award was very undesirable.

    Christine Buckley, Aislinn, thanked the Taoiseach and Ministers for listening. She was in total agreement with the Fund proposal. She was glad that the Congregations had been called in to contribute to the cost of redress. She said the Redress Board hearings were very adversarial, to judge from the experiences of the people Aislinn had accompanied to the Board, and she referred to ongoing research into related suicides. There should be a review of the Redress Board, with every case looked at – perhaps by an independent panel, as she knew from MoS Andrews that for legal reasons a review would be very difficult. She considered the proposed Fund a very important step forward. Also, education was very important: thanks to it, in her view, 
    Here the Taoiseach pointed out that the question of Magdalene women was not part of the present discussion, which was about people who had been abused as children in residential institutions, and the position of Magdalene women was no analogous with that. In relation to women who had been in Magdalene laundries, the relevant Departments will help individuals with information where they can, but it was not part of today’s discussion.
    Frank Traynor (Right of Place) said the Ryan Report had enabled victims to be known as survivors, and no longer to be embarrassed about their past. Obviously, there was anger and distrust both among groups and with the Government, and it would not be right to dismiss that anger. Survivor groups could benefit from professional liaison group to work with them to figure out what survivors want. He was not a spokesperson for Right of Place but wanted to say that he had no issue with the governance of Right of Place.

    Funding for the survivor groups was important: the groups are undervalued and underfunded. A report on the groups, how they are structured, who they represent, so as to give them respect for what they do, would be a good idea.

    As regards the proposed Fund, survivor groups need to find out if its the only show in town. It was important that the Government make that clear, because some people think there’s another windfall coming their way. If there is to be no windfall, the Government should clear that up, so that people can focus on victims’ real needs.

    Noel Barry, Right of Place said the State couldn’t do everything. His group would like to see the Magdalen women qualify for Redress. Also, the legal profession should be removed from the process. Solicitors deserved their fees but not the barristers, and they should be excluded. As regards the proposed Memorial, its purpose is to remind future generations about Ireland not being an island of Saints and Scholars, and it is very important.

    Andrew Brennan, SOCA UK thanked the Government for their efforts. He said he found it hard to separate Magdalenes from the victims’ situation. His mother was in a Magdalen, and his family had then been put into an institution.

    Michael Waters, SOCA UK thanked the Taoiseach for his invitation. He wanted to wish Michael O’Brien well. He felt the SOCA Centre in Camden Town did a good job. Returning to 3 June last, he said that there was an expectation of further substantial financial contribution from the religious and that this offer will not be welcomed by many survivors.

    He raised the possibility of a ballot among all survivors (using the Redress Board list), to see what they wanted done about the offer, because, he suggested, the people in the room today represented only a small number of survivors.

    Quality care for today’s children with disabilities was very important. Three hostels for children recently closed in Dublin, he said, and he couldn’t find what alternative has been put in place. Had any lessons been learnt?

    Also, the situation in the UK should be considered: many survivors were living rough etc, and the Redress Board awards had not changed their lives. He instanced the suicide of a person who had been in contact with him. It was crucial to be able to support victims. Money wouldn’t solve the problem.

    Phyllis Morgan of the Outreach Centre, London said the Centre always helped all who came through its doors.

    Sally Mulready said she was the Local Councillor in London that had been referred to earlier. She had a number of questions:

    - the Trust Fund: Would there be an opportunity to contribute on the Legislation? What was the timetable? It would be useful to get down to detail quickly.
    - 32%, or some 4800 people, at the Redress Board were from the UK and they should have a voice.
    - how would the Fund be administered? Public finance skills would be necessary.

    She also said that the Education Finance Board was a good idea – but there was a problem with take-up and greater promotion and advertising were necessary. Also, it would be useful to widen the criteria for it so that group applications can be made. She would consult with UK survivors and revert. Finally, she echoed the point already made re windfalls – tonight’s meeting would put an end to that speculation.

    Paddy Doyle said he was not representing any group but felt tremendous sadness at the end of the meeting, for two reasons. First, the real issue was being lost sight of. Money hadn’t so far sorted out much for people and it was time to move away from how much victims were going to get. Rumours that each victim was going to get €300,000 were ridiculous nonsense. To do so would cost well over € 5 billion and it was time those rumours were put a stop to: people were even trying to borrow on the strength of such a windfall. He was also sad at the evident tensions between groups claiming to represent survivors, and reports of those tensions were getting into the media. Groups should come to their senses and stop tearing each other apart. There was a need to work together.
    Last edited by disability student; 25-06-2010 at 03:03 PM.

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Mother and baby homes terms published


Friday 09 January 2015 12.25
In 2010, the Bethany Home Survivors' Group found over 200 unmarked graves of Protestant babies
In 2010, the Bethany Home Survivors' Group found over 200 unmarked graves of Protestant babies

The Government has published its terms of reference for a Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matter.

The three-person commission chaired by judge Yvonne Murphy will be given three years to complete its work.

The commission will examine the period between 1922 and 1998 at 14 named institutions and a number of county homes.

A confidential committee will talk to those who lived and worked in there.

The circumstances in which women entered and left these homes, the living conditions and care arrangements in the institutions, the mortality rate of the women and children who lived there and the post mortem practices will all be examined.

It will also look at how children whose mothers were not in these homes ended up being there.

It will investigate the welfare considerations and input of the mothers in placing children from these homes elsewhere in Ireland and abroad.

Minister for Children James Reilly said he believed the commission would be critically important in coming to terms with our history and will give a greater understanding of how Ireland as a society failed in its treatment of women and children in these homes.

The confidential committee that will speak to those who lived and worked in the homes will report within 18 months.

Earlier, a former resident of a Catholic mother-and-baby home, who sits on the Council of State, said she would be appalled if the Government fails to pay redress to the small number of survivors of the Protestant Bethany Home.

Today's announcement of Judge Murphy's terms of reference comes seven months after worldwide publicity surrounding historian Mary Corless' revelation that almost 800 children had died in Tuam's former mother-and-baby home in Co Galway between 1925 and 1961 and that witnesses had reported seeing corpses in the institution's sewer.

Soon a multitude of babies' bodies was reported to be lying in unmarked graves in many of Ireland's seven remaining Catholic-run homes.

Ms Corless wants the commission to discover all such burial places and why the residents suffered from malnourishment.

In 2010, the Bethany Home Survivors' Group found over 200 unmarked graves of Protestant babies in Dublin.

Last night, Ms Mulready said she would be appalled if the Government fails to pay redress to Bethany's survivors, but added that residents of no other institutions had - like her own, St Patrick's - established a case for redress at this stage.

The Adoption Rights Alliance wants illegal and forced adoptions investigated and warned that if a sample of mothers and babies is to be focused upon, it must cover all maternity hospitals, nursing homes and adoption societies here.

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Investigation to begin

Mother and baby home investigation to be given three years to finish work

Inquiry to examine Catholic and Protestant homes between 1922 and early 1990s

The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Fri, Jan 9, 2015, 01:00

A commission of investigation into mother and baby homes is expected to be given three years to complete its work.

The move follows revelations last year about the deaths of almost 800 children at a Tuam mother and baby home.

The terms of reference for the investigation are due to be announced by the Government later Thursday after they were approved by the Cabinet yesterday.

The Irish Times understands the investigation will span a time-frame ranging from the foundation of the State in 1922 and up to the early 1990s.

The commission will be chaired by Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy.

As well as Catholic-run institutions, the terms of reference are likely to allow the commission to examine certain Protestant-run mother and baby homes, such as theBethany Home in Dublin.

While the commission is expected to be given a three-year time frame to complete its work, there is likely to be scope for an interim report to be produced after a certain period of time.

Minister for Children Dr James Reilly has declined to comment on details of the proposed terms of reference until after survivors’ groups are formally briefed this morning.


Speedier investigation

A commission of investigation – such as the banking inquiry, which recently got under way – provides a less expensive and speedier method of investigating matters of urgent public concern than a tribunal.


Commissions must seek and facilitate the voluntary cooperation of people whose evidence it requires.

A commission is, however, entitled to compel witnesses to give evidence and can also direct a person to provide it with any documents in the person’s possession or power relating to the matter under investigation.

If the person fails to comply, the commission can apply to the court to compel compliance, or it may impose a costs order against the individual for the costs incurred by all other parties arising from the delay.

A consultation phase saw 160 submissions from survivor groups and other representatives and was followed by months of interdepartmental group meetings and frequent meetings with the Attorney General.

In recent months, Dr Reilly said he was keen to ensure the terms of reference would be wide enough to address all the questions that needed to be answered.

At the same time, he stressed it was important that the inquiry was “efficient and timely so that it doesn’t take forever to come to a conclusion to the dismay of those who want answers”.


Specific institutions

Some survivors of Protestant mother and baby homes have been lobbying the Minister to include specific institutions, such as Westbank Orphanage, Co Wicklow, in the terms of reference.


The move to include at least some of these in the inquiry is likely to be welcomed by a number of campaign groups.

However, others are likely to be disappointed that the scope of the investigation does not go further and examine wider issues.

Following calls for the commission to investigate workhouses and mental hospitals, Dr Reilly last year signalled that at least some of the issues being raised in public debate were “beyond the intended central focus on mother-and-baby homes, as debated by the house”.

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'Broad scope' to baby home probe



The Government’s high-profile investigation into the mother-and-baby homes scandal will have an “extremely broad scope” and may involve “interim reports during its lifetime”.



Senior coalition officials hinted at the depth of the inquiry last night before the terms of reference of the major investigation are revealed this morning.

Speaking after the first cabinet briefing of the new year, officials said the mother-and-baby homes inquiry will be “extremely broad in scope” and have a “deeply historical” and “broad ranging” element to it. However, they would not be drawn on whether the examination will look at related scandals such as illegal adoptions, Protestant-run facilities, secret vaccine trials on vulnerable children and “county homes” which housed women who had a number of births outside marriage — issues campaign groups insist must be included.

The inquiry — the terms of reference of which will be launched by Children’s Minister Dr James Reilly at Government Buildings at 11am before being brought to the Oireachtas for debate — was established in the wake of revelations last summer about dead babies being left in a septic tank in Tuam.

While exact details on the investigation remain sparse, it is understood it will not be based solely on this location.

Speaking at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin yesterday, Dr Reilly said the State owes a “great debt” to Catherine Corless, the local historian who uncovered the Tuam scandal after years of research.

“First of all I’d like to say we all owe a great debt of gratitude to Catherine Corless for highlighting this issue, for the work she did on the deaths of babies at Tuam.

“I’d like to also note the work done by my predecessor [as children’s minister] Charlie Flanagan, and those groups who came and told me those stories. I found them very compelling.”

Dr Reilly said he believes the terms of reference he will publish today after meeting privately with campaign groups will be “acceptable”, and will help to answer the “complex” questions about a “long time in our history” that remain unanswered.


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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Appeal Rejected

Vatican rejects ex-priest’s appeal of defrocking over child sex abus

The Vatican has rejected an appeal by a former priest against his dismissal from the priesthood over child sex abuse.

Dan Duane, from Mallow Co Cork, was defrocked following a canon law trial for abuse of teenagers and minors.


In March 2013 a secret canonical court set up by the Cloyne diocese’s former administrator, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dermot Clifford, ruled he should be forced to stand down as a priest having heard from a number of his victims.


Previously Duane faced two criminal charges for sex abuse but was acquitted in both cases.


Bishop William Crean of Cloyne yesterday issued a statement in which he apologised “to all who have suffered abuse of any kind at the hands of clergy”.


“We are most grateful to the survivors of abuse who had the courage to come forward to tell their stories,” he said. “We can never be complacent and the work continues on a daily basis, by hundreds of people, to ensure that our children and young people are safe from harm.”


In its 2013 judgment the canonical court “reached the decision with moral certainty” that the priest had sexually abused minors and teenagers and that he “should be dismissed from the clerical state”.


Duane had appealed to the Apostolic Signatura, the highest judicial authority in Rome and subsequently to Pope Francis against the canonical court’s ruling.


In May 2011 he was found not guilty of indecently assaulting a teenage girl by direction of the trial judge, who expressed concerns about the alleged victim’s delay in making a complaint to gardaí.


Six months later a jury found Duane not guilty of indecently assaulting a second teenager, following a three-day trial.


A statement from the Catholic communications office said that the Vatican’s decision had been communicated privately to the abuse victims.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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Important part of our History


Grateful for permission to use this.


Happy New Year to you all

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