...regaining identities, histories and rights for adopted people...  

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1922 
Irish Free State Established.

1929 
Marriage bar imposed on women working in the civil service.

1933 
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.

1935 
The Criminal Law Amendment Act prohibits contraception and tightened the law on rape
and sexual assault.

1935 
Public Dance Halls Act.

1936 
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.

1937 
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). 

1941 
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.

1952 
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. 

1960 
The Criminal Justice Act provided for the use of Sean McDermott St Laundry as a remand home.

1970 
The Kennedy Report documents the State's awareness of two distinct populations of children confined in Magdalene Laundries

1970 
The first legally adopted people (in 1952) turn 18 years old

1973 
In July, the marriage bar is removed from the Civil Service

1974 
Women can now collect their own children's allowance

1975 
Adopted people in England, Wales & Northern Ireland get unfettered access to their early care, medical & adoption records.

1976 
First legislation on domestic violence.

1976
Family Home Protection Act.

1976
Women can now sit on juries.

1977 
Employment Equality Act.

1983 
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. “

1984 
In January
Anne Lovett dies giving birth beside a grotto. Her infant son also dies.

1984 
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.

1985 
Recognition of Foreign Divorces Act.

1985 
Contraceptives can now be sold in chemists to over 18s.

1988 
Adoption tracing and information is mentioned for the first time in the Dáil

1990 
The Adult Adoptees Association (which will eventually evolve into the Adopted People's Association) is formed.

1990 
Marital rape defined as a crime.

1991 
Contraception is liberalised.

1991 
Closed Secret Intercountry Adoption is introduced in Ireland.

1992 
The “X-Case”: 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 injunction.

1992 
Abortion Referendums: In November, two referendums are passed amending Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution to protect the rights to travel and information. 

1993 
After a small notice appears in a newspaper about the exhumation of Magdalene women from High Park, the Magdalene Memorial Committee is formed.

1993 
Remains of 155 Magdalene Women exhumed from High Park. They are cremated and re-interred at Glasnevin Cemetery.

1996 
In April, the Magdalene Memorial Committee dedicate the St. Stephen's Green Park Bench Memorial. Mary Robinson calls the event "historic".

1996 
In June, news breaks of over 2,000 Irish babies secretly sent to the US for adoption.

1996 
In October, the last Magdalene Laundry closes at Sean McDermott Street.

1996 
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

1998
Sex in a Cold Climate, by Steve Humphries airs on Channel 4 in the UK.

1998
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 
& Tracing 

1999 
In April, Mary Raftery’s documentary, States of Fear airs on RTÉ television in Ireland.

1999 
Mary Raftery and Eoin O'Sullivan's Suffer the Little Children is published.


1999 
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.

2000 
The Child Abuse Act is introduced. While the Vaccine Trials are included, the Magdalene Laundries are excluded yet again.

2001 
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 
excluded.

2001 
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.

2001 
Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Laffoy Commission) is established. The Vaccine Trials are included.

2001 
Adopted People's Association (APA) commences a 2-year campaign to have Hanafins's Bill withdrawn.

2002 
Residential Institutions Redress Act comes into force. The Magdalene Laundries are not listed on "Schedule A".

2003 
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.

2003 
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 public.

2003 
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.

2003 
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.

2003 
Peter Mullan’s movie The Magdalene Sisters is released.

2003 
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.

2003
 
Brian Lenihan axes Hanafin's flawed Adoption Information & Tracing Bill and puts it on the table for discussion at the 2003 Adoption Legislation Consultation.

2003 
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.

2003 
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. 

2003 
Brian Lenihan appoints his election agent,Tony Lynam Loane, to the Adoption Board and fails to appoint an adopted person.

2004 
A new organisation with a new mission - Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) - emerges from the Magdalene Memorial Committee.

2004 
In May, the Sisters of Mercy issue an apology but the Magdalene women are ignored.

2004 
In June, the Vaccine Trials are removed from remit of Redress Board and the Child Abuse Commission.

2005 
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 interests.

2005 
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.

2006 
Brian Lenihan promises that Adoption Information and Tracing legislation will be introduced by the end of the year - it never happens.

2007 
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.


2007 
The Adoption Support Network of Ireland (ASNI) is formed.

2007 
A General Election is held and the Adoption Information and Tracing Bill is shelved.

2007 
Brendan Smith becomes Minister for Children - all adoption legislation is put on-hold.

2007 
In November, the Framework for Adoption Information & Tracing Services is launched by the Adoption Board - social workers refuse to use it.

2007 
In November, the Department of Health Legislation Unit announce they are only working on legislation for Intercountry Adoption.

2009 
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.

2009 
In May, former members of APA reform to establish Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA).

2009 
In July, JFM demands a formal apology and submits draft redress language to all TDs.

2009 
In September, Batt O'Keeffe rejects JFM proposal and refers to Magdalene women as "former employees" and later "workers".

2009 
In September, JFM writes to An Taoiseach, we are still awaiting a response.

2009 
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.

2009 
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.

2009 
In December, the Department of Justice acknowledges state awareness and complicity in referring women to Magdalene Laundries.

2009 
In December, an All-Party Ad Hoc Committee is formed to address the issue of the Magdalene Laundries.

2009 
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 Bill.

2009 
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.

2009 
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.

2009 
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 Bill.

2010 
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.

2010 
In February, the Department of Education acknowledges State awareness that children were referred from industrial schools to Magdalene Laundries.

2010 
In February, Mary Hanafin confirms there are no records for PRSI returns for Magdalene Laundries.

2010 
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 – nothing happens.

2010 
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.

2010 
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.

2010 
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”.

2010 
In May, Geoffrey Shannon, Chairperson of the Adoption Board pledges to deal with the issue of illegal adoptions, in an interview on RTÉ’s Prime Time.

2010 
In May, in an interview with Prime Time, Barry Andrews promises adoption information legislation.

2010 
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. 

2010 
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.

2010 
In June, JFM submits the first 1,000 signatures of its petition to the Dept of An Taoiseach.

2010 
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.

2010 
In June, the Department of Justice says any State apology to Magdalene Women will be conditional on limiting liability.

2010 
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 information 
legislation.

2010 
In July, JFM writes to CORI requesting a meeting.

2010 
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 received.

2010 
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.

2010 
In October, CORI declines JFM's request to meet.

2010
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:

"That 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.

In 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."

The assessment 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.

2011 
In March Adoption Rights Alliance submits a report to the UN for Ireland's Universal Periodic Review.

2011 
In March Justice for Magdalenes submits a report to the UN for Ireland's Universal Periodic Review.

2011 
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.

2011

In June the United Nations Committee Against Torture published its “Concluding Observations,” which included the following statement and recommendation related to the Magdalene Laundries:  

21. 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 Magdalene Laundries.  (Articles 2, 12, 13, 14 and 16)

The 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.

2011
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”.  

2011
In June the Irish government announces that the interdepartmental committee investigating state “interaction” with the Magdalene Laundries will be chaired by Senator Martin McAleese.

2011
In July JFM meets with Ministers Alan Shatter and Kathleen Lynch.

2011
In July JFM meets with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.  

2011
In July JFM submits a 50 page narrative of State Interaction, supported by 500 pages of Appendices

2011
In October JFM submits revised Restorative Justice and Reparations Scheme to Ministers Shatter and Lynch

2011
In October the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Magdalene Laundries publishes its Interim Report

2011-2012 
JFM continues to submit additional evidence of state interaction 

2012
In March the IHRC, Women's Human Rights Alliance and JFM address UN Human Rights Council on Magdalene Laundries abuse

2012
In June JFM helps organise survivor meeting with Senator McAleese

2012
In July Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Geoffrey Shannon calls for "acknowledgement, redress and accountability" for survivors and characterises their treatment as "slavery"

2012
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

2012
In September JFM submits a redacted version of its principal submission to every TD and Senator

2012
In September a motion on the Magdalene Laundries is to be debated in Dáil Éireann

2013
In February the Inter-Departmental Committee report is published


2013 
In February history is made and Magdalene women receive an apology from the Irish state.

2013 
In March, adopted people are still awaiting information and tracing legislation.

If you have any additions/corrections to this timeline contact us.

 

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

Alex Haley, Author of Roots 



 

 

 

 

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