Irish Free State Established.
Marriage bar imposed on women working in the civil service.
The Department of Local Government and Public Health Annual Report,
1932-33 details the State's policy of relying on Magdalene laundries
to confine women
with multiple births outside marriage.
The Criminal Law Amendment Act prohibits contraception and tightened
the law on rape
and sexual assault.
Public Dance Halls Act.
The Cussen Report demonstrates that the state knew that Judges who
were “reluctant” to send “first offenders” to prison sent
them to “a home conducted by a religious order”
provided the “girl” consented to go there.
The Constitution comes into force.
Under the Constitution the state pledges:
(i) To ensure that children receive a "certain minimum
education" (Art. 42, sec. 3, sub. 2).
(ii) To "supply the place of the parents" in cases where
parents "fail in their duty towards their children" (Art.
42, sec. 5).
In May, the Minister for Defence confirms contracts for army laundry
are placed with "institutional laundries" and clearly
shows that he is aware of the distinction between “commercial”
and “institutional” laundries.
The 1952 Adoption Act introduces closed secret adoption to Ireland.
An adoptive parent is immediately appointed to the Adoption Board -
in 2010 an adopted person or natural parent has yet to be appointed.
The Criminal Justice Act provided for the use of Sean McDermott St
Laundry as a remand home.
The Kennedy Report documents the State's awareness of two distinct
populations of children confined in Magdalene Laundries
The first legally adopted people (in 1952) turn 18 years old
In July, the marriage bar is removed from the Civil Service
Women can now collect their own children's allowance
Adopted people in England, Wales & Northern Ireland get
unfettered access to their early care, medical & adoption
First legislation on domestic violence.
Family Home Protection Act.
Women can now sit on juries.
Employment Equality Act.
Abortion Referendum: Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution is amended:
"The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and,
with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees
in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to
defend and vindicate that right. “
In January Anne
Lovett dies giving birth beside a grotto. Her infant son also
In April, a newborn baby boy was found stabbed to death on White
Strand beach at Caherciveen, Co. Kerry. The case culminated in the Kerry
Babies Tribunal. The manner in which Joanne Hayes was treated
raised major questions about the behaviour of the Gardai and the
treatment of unmarried mothers in Ireland.
Recognition of Foreign Divorces Act.
Contraceptives can now be sold in chemists to over 18s.
Adoption tracing and information is mentioned for the first time in
The Adult Adoptees Association (which will eventually evolve into
the Adopted People's Association) is formed.
Marital rape defined as a crime.
Contraception is liberalised.
Closed Secret Intercountry Adoption is introduced in Ireland.
In February the High Court grants an injunction preventing a 14 year
old girl who is pregnant as a result of rape, from travelling to the
UK for an abortion. The Supreme Court eventually lifts the
Abortion Referendums: In November, two referendums are passed
amending Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution to protect the rights to
travel and information.
After a small notice appears in a newspaper about the exhumation of
Magdalene women from High Park, the Magdalene
Memorial Committee is formed.
Remains of 155 Magdalene Women exhumed from High Park. They are
cremated and re-interred at Glasnevin Cemetery.
In April, the Magdalene Memorial Committee dedicate the St.
Stephen's Green Park Bench Memorial. Mary Robinson calls the event
In June, news breaks of over 2,000 Irish babies secretly sent to the
US for adoption.
In October, the last Magdalene Laundry closes at Sean McDermott
Mike Milotte's Banished
Babies -chronicles the trafficking of non-marital Irish babies
to the US for Adoption - first mention of "deny till they
die" government policy
in a Cold Climate, by Steve Humphries airs on Channel 4 in the
In July, the Adopted People’s Association makes a presentation to
the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children on the need
for Adoption Information
In April, Mary Raftery’s documentary, States
of Fear airs on RTÉ television in Ireland.
Mary Raftery and Eoin O'Sullivan's Suffer
the Little Children is published.
In May, Bertie Ahern issues an apology
for the abuses meted out to Irish children in institutions. The
Magdalene Laundries are excluded from this apology.
The Child Abuse Act is introduced. While the Vaccine Trials are
included, the Magdalene Laundries are excluded yet again.
The Roman Catholic Church agrees to pay in excess of £128 million
into a State fund to compensate abuse survivors. Again, the
Magdalene Laundries are
Draft Adoption Information Legislation is proposed, but then
Minister for Children, Mary Hanafin, includes a criminalisation
element to the Bill, which would see adopted people jailed for up to
1 year for breaching contact vetos.
Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Laffoy Commission) is
established. The Vaccine Trials are included.
Adopted People's Association (APA) commences a 2-year campaign to
have Hanafins's Bill withdrawn.
Residential Institutions Redress Act comes into force. The Magdalene
Laundries are not listed on "Schedule A".
Mary Coughlan, in the Civil Registration Bill, decides that Adoption
Certs should be rebadged as "Birth Certificates" so
younger adopted people may not
realise their true status.
Adopted people excluded from GRO's digitisation project – an FOI
request reveals that software has been specifically designed to
obstruct adopted people. Despite the vast cost to the public purse,
in 2010, the computerised records are still unavailable to the
Mary Raftery exposes the truth about the exhumation of the High Park
Magdalene women. There are widespread calls for an inquiry into the
exhumations, nothing happens.
On foot of recent revelations, the Magdalene Memorial Committee is
reformed, joining forces with adopted people, many of whom are sons
and daughters of Magdalene women.
Peter Mullan’s movie The Magdalene Sisters is released.
Miramax, the distributors of The Magdalene Sisters, sponsor a
postcard campaign demanding an inquiry into the High Park
exhumations. Thousands of postcards are sent to then Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern. No response is ever received.
Brian Lenihan axes Hanafin's flawed Adoption Information &
Tracing Bill and puts it on the table for discussion at the 2003 Adoption
Brian Lenihan appoints a stakeholder group to advise the Adoption
Board on Adoption Information & Tracing. Social workers,
adoption board staff and adoption agency staff outnumber the adopted
people and natural parents representatives 3 to 1.
Brian Lenihan ignores protests about the inclusion on the Advisory
Group of an adoption agency director whose agency, St Patrick’s
Guild, was responsible for illegal adoptions and for sending almost
600 babies to the US secretly.
Brian Lenihan appoints his election agent,Tony Lynam Loane, to the
Adoption Board and fails to appoint an adopted person.
A new organisation with a new mission - Justice for Magdalenes (JFM)
- emerges from the Magdalene Memorial Committee.
In May, the Sisters of Mercy issue an apology but the Magdalene
women are ignored.
In June, the Vaccine Trials are removed from remit of Redress Board
and the Child Abuse Commission.
In March the National Adoption Contact Preference Register (NACPR)
is launched. A national leaflet distribution is promised every 2
years - it never happens. Adopted people and natural parents
continue to be referred to church run adoption agencies with vested
Sr Sarto, of the Sacred Heart Adoption Agency in Bessboro Co. Cork
secretly joins an on-line adoption support group and summons some
members to her office to question their posts and begins personally
harassing other members via phone and letter.
Brian Lenihan promises that Adoption Information and Tracing
legislation will be introduced by the end of the year - it never
James M Smith publishes Ireland’s
Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment.
This book provides the first vital evidence of state collusion in
referring women and children to Magdalene Laundries.
The Adoption Support Network of Ireland (ASNI) is formed.
A General Election is held and the Adoption Information and Tracing
Bill is shelved.
Brendan Smith becomes Minister for Children - all adoption
legislation is put on-hold.
In November, the Framework for Adoption Information & Tracing
Services is launched by the Adoption Board - social workers refuse
to use it.
In November, the Department of Health Legislation Unit announce they
are only working on legislation for Intercountry Adoption.
In January, Barry Andrews launches the 2009 Adoption Bill - it is a
Bill designed to facilitate foreign adoptions - no mention of
information and tracing whatsoever, despite the clear need
demonstrated by the Consultation process.
In May, former members of APA reform to establish Adoption Rights
In July, JFM demands a formal apology and submits draft redress
language to all TDs.
In September, Batt O'Keeffe rejects JFM proposal and refers to
Magdalene women as "former employees" and later
In September, JFM writes to An Taoiseach, we are still awaiting a
In November, the Stakeholder Advisory Group to the Adoption Board
meets for the first time in 4 years to discuss the next national
campaign to raise awareness of the NACPR. Barnardos have received
lottery funding to redesign the NACPR leaflet and they rather than
the Adoption Board will drive the new campaign.
Senior staff at the Adoption Board vehemently resist all efforts to
refer to “illegal adoptions” in the new NACPR leaflet – they
prefer the sanitised “de facto” term.
In December, the Department of Justice acknowledges state awareness
and complicity in referring women to Magdalene Laundries.
In December, an All-Party Ad Hoc Committee is formed to address the
issue of the Magdalene Laundries.
In December, ARA makes a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas
Committee on Health & Children, criticising Barry Andrews’
proposed Adoption Bill and demanding an Information and Tracing
In December, Adoption Loss - the Natural Parents Network of Ireland,
to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health & Children,
criticising Barry Andrews’ proposed Adoption Bill and demanding an
Information and Tracing Bill.
In December, the Council of Irish Adoption Agencies makes a
presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health &
Children, criticising Barry Andrews’ proposed Adoption Bill and
demanding an Information and Tracing Bill.
In December, Barnardos makes a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas
Committee on Health & Children, criticising Barry Andrews’
proposed Adoption Bill and demanding an Information and Tracing
In January, in a meeting with ARA, Barry Andrews refuses to consider
adoption information legislation. In the same meeting with ARA,
Barry Andrews dismisses out of hand request for representation on
the Adoption Board.
In February, the Department of Education acknowledges State
awareness that children were referred from industrial schools to
In February, Mary Hanafin confirms there are no records for PRSI
returns for Magdalene Laundries.
In March, the Department of Health meets with JFM and agrees to
investigate its involvement in referring women and children to
Magdalene Laundries. JFM challenges Taoiseach to show leadership –
In March, Barry Andrews says in response to a PQ that there is “an
effective administrative system in place to deal with the issue of
information and tracing”, despite the fact that vast evidence to
the contrary has been presented to him.
In April, after bad publicity, Barry Andrews, (in an opinion piece)
reverses his earlier position and says he "intends" to
bring forward adoption information legislation.
In April, An Taoiseach says: “The position of women in [Magdalene]
laundries was not analogous with that of children in residential
institutions that were the subject of the Ryan Report”.
In May, Geoffrey Shannon, Chairperson of the Adoption Board pledges
to deal with the issue of illegal adoptions, in an interview on RTÉ’s
In May, in an interview with Prime Time, Barry Andrews promises
adoption information legislation.
In May, the Minister for Justice: “The majority of females who
entered or were placed in Magdalene Laundries in the period did so
without any direct involvement of the State.
In June, JFM submits an application to the IHRC requesting an
enquiry into the State’s failure to protect the rights of women
and young girls in the nation’s Magdalene laundries.
In June, JFM submits the first 1,000 signatures of its petition to
the Dept of An Taoiseach.
In June, JFM meets with Cardinal Brady. He says JFM's presentation
is "fair" and "balanced" and suggests that JFM
contact CORI to open discussions.
In June, the Department of Justice says any State apology to
Magdalene Women will be conditional on limiting liability.
In June, Mary Hanafin, the Minister who previously attempted to
criminalise adopted people, launches free online access to 1901
Census records which is made available to millions of Irish people
worldwide. This comes 24 hours after Barry Andrews votes down a
Labour Party amendment to provide tracing and information rights to
adopted people. In the same debate, Barry Andrews maintains he is
"absolutely committed" to bringing forward adoption
In July, JFM writes to CORI requesting a meeting.
In July, JFM writes to Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, who is a
member of the apostolic visitation team being sent to Ireland in the
aftermath of the Ryan Report, requesting a meeting. No response is
In October Ministers Dermot Ahern and Sean Haughey rule out any
extension of the current redress scheme to include Magdalene
Laundries and Bethany Home survivors.
In October, CORI declines JFM's request to meet.
In November the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) publishes an assessment
of the human rights issues arising in relation to the treatment of
women and girls in Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries. The assessment
concluded with the following recommendations:
in light of its foregoing assessment of the human rights arising in
this Enquiry request and in the absence of the Residential
Institutions Redress Scheme including within its terms of
reference the treatment of persons in laundries including
Magdalen Laundries, other than those children transferred
there from other institutions; that a statutory mechanism be
established to investigate the matters advanced by JFM and in
appropriate cases to grant redress where warranted. Such a
mechanism should first examine the extent of the State’s involvement
in and responsibility for:
The girls and women entering the laundries
• The conditions in the laundries
• The manner in which girls and women left the laundries and
• End-of life issues for those who remained.
the event of State involvement/responsibility being established,
that the statutory mechanism then advance to conducting a
larger-scale review of what occurred, the reasons for the
occurrence, the human rights implications and the redress which
should be considered, in full consultation with ex-residents
and supporters’ groups."
included conclusions and observations on Ireland’s closed secret
adoption system and also acknowledged the lack of parity between
Irish adopted people and their Northern Irish counterparts.
The assessment also raised issues under the European
Convention on Human Rights.
In March Adoption Rights Alliance submits a report
to the UN for Ireland's Universal Periodic Review.
In March Justice for Magdalenes submits a report
to the UN for Ireland's Universal Periodic Review.
In March Justice for Magdalenes submits a revised "Restorative
Justice and Reparations Scheme" to Minister for Justice,
Alan Shatter, T.D., updating the July 2009 proposed scheme, which
began the group’s current campaign.
June the United Nations Committee Against Torture published its
“Concluding Observations,” which included the following
statement and recommendation related to the Magdalene Laundries:
The Committee is gravely concerned at the failure by the
State party to protect girls and women who were involuntarily
confined between 1922 and 1996 in the Magdalene Laundries, by
failing to regulate their operations and inspect them, where it is
alleged that physical, emotional abuses and other ill-treatment were
committed amounting to breaches of the Convention. The Committee
also expresses grave concern at the failure by the State party to
institute prompt, independent and thorough investigation into the
allegations of ill-treatment perpetrated on girls and women in the
(Articles 2, 12, 13, 14 and 16)
Committee recommends that the State party should institute prompt,
independent, and thorough investigations into all allegations of
torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment that were allegedly committed in the Magdalene Laundries,
and, in appropriate cases, prosecute and punish the perpetrators
with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offences
committed, and ensure that all victims obtain redress and have an
enforceable right to compensation including the means for as full
rehabilitation as possible.
CORI issues a statement made on behalf of the four congregations who
ran Magdalene Laundries, indicating their “willingness” to
“bring clarity, understanding, healing and justice in the
interests of all the women involved”.
In June the Irish government announces that the interdepartmental
committee investigating state “interaction” with the Magdalene
Laundries will be chaired by Senator Martin McAleese.
In July JFM meets with Ministers Alan Shatter and Kathleen Lynch.
In July JFM meets with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
In July JFM submits a 50 page narrative of State Interaction, supported by 500 pages of Appendices
In October JFM submits revised Restorative Justice and Reparations Scheme to Ministers Shatter and Lynch
In October the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Magdalene Laundries publishes its Interim Report
JFM continues to submit additional evidence of state interaction
In March the IHRC, Women's Human Rights Alliance and JFM address UN Human Rights Council on Magdalene Laundries abuse
In June JFM helps organise survivor meeting with Senator McAleese
In July Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Geoffrey Shannon calls for "acknowledgement, redress and accountability" for survivors and characterises their treatment as "slavery"
In August JFM submits its principal submission to the Inter-Departmental Committee, a 145-page document collating evidence of State complicity, supported by 795 pages of survivor testimony consistent with the 3,707 pages of supporting evidence
In September JFM submits a redacted version of its principal submission to every TD and Senator
In September a motion on the Magdalene Laundries is to be debated in Dáil Éireann
In February the Inter-Departmental Committee report is published
In February history is made and Magdalene women receive an apology
from the Irish state.
In March, adopted people are still awaiting information and
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