Geneva - Abuse victims applaud UN panel

Abuse victims applaud UN panel

It sides with oppressed Irish women

SNAP urges governments to help Magdalenes

Church & state should “seek out others who suffer in silence”

And they should provide quck but thorough help to the elderly women, SNAP says


Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will

-- praise United Nations Committee Against Torture for pushing Irish government officials to do more for the Magdalene laundry victims, and

-- prod Northern Irish government officials to launch an aggressive investigation and outreach effort to find – and help - all Magdalene laundry victims

They will also

-- discuss the “first ever” testimony they gave yesterday before a United Nations panel, and

--urge church victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to step forward and help provide evidence for their on-going International Criminal Court complaint against the Catholic hierarchy


Thursday, June 20, at 11:00 a.m.


On the sidewalk outside the United Nations Office at Geneva, Palais des Nations, Avenue de la Paix 8-14, CH – 1211 Genève 10, Switzerland


Two victims of clergy sex crimes who belong to an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including the organization’s long time US director who is traveling through Switzerland, Germany and Austria


SNAP is applauding the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) for its support of victims of the Irish Magdalene Laundries, many of whom have waited nearly 40 to 50 years for help and justice. The group is also pushing government and church official - in Ireland and Northern Ireland - to do more to find and help elderly women in both nations who were sexually and physically abused in these institutions.

Late last month, the UNCAT criticized the Senator Martin McAleese inquiry into the Magdalene laundries, saying it lacked many elements of a “prompt, independent and thorough” investigation. It wrote to the Irish government last month asking for “a full inquiry into all complaints of abuse” and assurances that funds intended for victims would not be spent on legal costs.

Some of the criticism came from Felice D. Gaer, the United Nations Human Rights office of the High Commissioner.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he hopes for a quick Cabinet decision after it discusses the report on redress for the survivors of the Magdalene laundries within the next two weeks. That report, from retired judge Mr Justice Quirke, has been sent to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.

But a plan for compensation simply is not enough, SNAP says. These survivors, of whom many are elderly, also need emotional closure and support.

SNAP is also concerned about the alleged abuse in the Bethany & Kilcoole baby and child home for Protestant women based in Dublin and Co Wicklow from 1922-1949. The group believes both secular and religious authorities should undertake an immediate and aggressive outreach effort to find and help those who were hurt in these facilities.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, “Hundreds of victims of clerical and Magdalene laundry abuse in Northern Ireland have been left out . . .Some women had their babies taken off them, were forced to scrub floors or locked in their rooms for hours in institutions for women like single mothers. Other men and women who claim they suffered years of sex abuse at the hands of predatory priests cannot tell their stories or seek redress under existing arrangements.”

The victims are calling for a new inquiry into their allegations of abuse. According to news accounts, these victims are not included “in the current Historic Institutional Abuse inquiry, which is investigating claims of mistreatment at 35 sites across Northern Ireland.”

For more about the Irish Magdalene situation: Mari Steed, [email protected]. For more about the Northern Ireland Magdalene situation: Michael Connolly, Mob 00353 86 1044255, landline 00353 74 95 61080 [email protected]


In Europe: Barbara Blaine, SNAP, +1 312 399 4747, David Clohessy, SNAP, +1 314 566 9790

In U.S.: Barbara Dorris, SNAP, + 314 862 7688 home, +314 503 0003 cell, +312 455 1499 office, [email protected]

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant