Who we are & what we have achieved:
Magdalene Survivors Together was set in July 2009 by Steven O' Riordan and Gerard Boland after their hugely successful documentary release entitled “The Forgotten Maggies”. Steven and Gerard had been working on the subject of the Magdalene laundries for over six years and they now felt it was important for the women to take hold of their own story and campaign for justice.
The initial group was made up of Maureen Sullivan, Kathleen Legg, Mary Smyth, Marina Gambold and Maureen Taylor. Each of these women spent several years in Ireland's Magdalene Laundries. They, along with Steven and Gerard were invited to meet with Government officials at the Department of Justice in Ireland on the 4th of November 2009. It was the first time in the history of the Irish State that officials were willing to meet with and acknowledge women who were ‘resident’ in Irelands Magdalene laundries. Steven, Gerard and the Magdalene women presented their stories, information and evidence of State interaction in a formal way.
Since that meeting Magdalene Survivors Together has held several marches and other meetings with Government officals at the Department of Justice, Education, Health and Environment. They continue to raise the question of slave labour, State failure and intervention to protect the Magdalene women. In January 2010, Magdalene Survivors Together began to seek legal advice from Frank Buttimer Solicitors Cork on the possibility of taking a constitutional case against both the Irish State and Catholic Church. This consultation is ongoing.
Magdalene Survivors Together is the only survivor led organisation, which focuses on the human rights aspect of the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland. The group has currently over twenty Magdalene women working within the voluntary organisation and these women are located throughout Ireland and the UK. The women meet once a month in Dublin to discuss the magdalene issue, express ideas, concerns and ways of keeping the story of the Magdalene laundries alive and within the public domain.
In September 2011 Magdalene Survivors Together was invited to meet with the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter on the issue of the Magdalene Laundries. He had earlier set up a committee led by Dr Martin McAleese to establish the true nature and extent of the States role with these institutions. This instruction had come about due to a direction given by the United Nations Against Torture that the Irish Goverment should compensate, prosecute and formally apologise to the women for the mistreatment they suffered at these aslyums.
Magdalene Survivors Together have played a key role in this investigation. They have listed several breeches of human’s rights and provided twenty seven survivor testimony where both the Catholic Church and Irish State colluded. The group has also pointed out many constitutional concerns along with evidence of state funding or interaction both directly and indirectly at these meetings in the form of a Magdalene Laundry Ledger.
Magdalene Survivors Together is also working with Dublin City Council on the development of a National Monument to the memory of all Magdalene's.