Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Case Study of the Modern Day Work Camp: Magdalene Laundries

Daisy Luther
Activist Post

If you have ever brushed off the idea of FEMA work camps as a myth, a fantasy of an overactive Patriot imagination, then you must not have heard about the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, where young women were incarcerated, often without trial, without a definitive sentence, and sometimes, without even committing a crime worse then being “too pretty” and therefore, tempting men.

Does this remind anyone else of the NDAA? Indefinite detention? No trial? No cause? These girls were simply locked up and forced to work until those in power saw fit to release them.

Magdalene Laundries were in operation as recently as 1996 – that’s right – 16 years ago, young women were enslaved indefinitely in a colluded effort between the Catholic Church and the Irish government.

Between 1922-1996, Irish women were put to work in “laundries” that were run by Roman Catholic nuns. There is some discrepancy on the number of women so incarcerated. Between 10,000-30,000 women were put to forced labor for the financial benefit of the church, however.

Less than 1000 women who endured the laundries are still alive today. Survivors maintain that the doors and windows were locked, and that if they escaped, they were brought back by the police.

This week an Irish government report was made public on the laundries, confirming the government’s complicity with the Catholic Church in running the workhouses. 17 survivors met with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, requesting an apology and restitution from the government, after the same requests were ignored by the Catholic Church.

The BBC reports:
  • Envisaged as short-term refuges for ‘fallen women’ they became long-term institutions and penitents were required to work, mostly in laundries on the premises.
  • They extended to take in unmarried mothers, women with learning difficulties and girls who had been abused.
  • The facilities were self-supporting and the money generated by the laundries paid for them.
  • Between 1922 and 1996 there were 10 such laundries in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Many Irish institutions, such as the army, government departments, hotels and even Guinness had contracts with Magdalene laundries.
  • The women toiled behind locked doors unable to leave after being admitted and while the laundries were paid, they received no wages.
  • The congregations which ran them were the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, the Religious Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
Most of the women were under the age of 23. The youngest girl admitted was 9, and the oldest was 89. Singer Sinead O’Connor is one survivor of the Magdalene Laundries. She wrote an editorial for the Washington Post in 2010 about her experience and her opinion on the priorities of the Church:
When I was a young girl, my mother — an abusive, less-than-perfect parent — encouraged me to shoplift. After being caught once too often, I spent 18 months in An Grianán Training Centre, an institution in Dublin for girls with behavioral problems, at the recommendation of a social worker. An Grianán was one of the now-infamous church-sponsored “Magdalene laundries,” which housed pregnant teenagers and uncooperative young women. We worked in the basement, washing priests’ clothes in sinks with cold water and bars of soap. We studied math and typing. We had limited contact with our families. We earned no wages. One of the nuns, at least, was kind to me and gave me my first guitar…. 
An Grianán was a product of the Irish government’s relationship with the Vatican — the church had a “special position” codified in our constitution until 1972. As recently as 2007, 98 percent of Irish schools were run by the Catholic Church. But schools for troubled youth have been rife with barbaric corporal punishments, psychological abuse and sexual abuse. In October 2005, a report sponsored by the Irish government identified more than 100 allegations of sexual abuse by priests in Ferns, a small town 70 miles south of Dublin, between 1962 and 2002. Accused priests weren’t investigated by police; they were deemed to be suffering a “moral” problem. In 2009, a similar report implicated Dublin archbishops in hiding sexual abuse scandals between 1975 and 2004. 
Why was such criminal behavior tolerated? The “very prominent role which the Church has played in Irish life is the very reason why abuses by a minority of its members were allowed to go unchecked,” the 2009 report said.
Survivors have shared many horror stories. When the women arrived, most had their long hair cut short, or even shaved off, which was the beginning of the humiliating enslavement. Strict silence was enforced, and infractions resulted in corporal punishment.

There are reports of physical, psychological, sexual and emotional abuse. The laundries started out as homes for “fallen women” – prostitutes, but soon, the doors were opened to incarcerate the mentally retarded, those with learning problems, abused women and girls, and unwed mothers.

 Females who committed crimes like shoplifting or not paying for a train ticket were sent to the laundries and eventually, even promiscuity, flirtatiousness, or being “too beautiful” were crimes punishable by enslavement in the workhouses.

Meanwhile, the Church was making money from paid contracts for the women’s labor. The contracts demanded the legally required “fair wages” for the women’s work, but the women did not get paid a single penny of that money. All the revenue went to the Church.

Prominent Irish businesses, government agencies, and the Church itself were listed in the ledgers as clients of the laundries: Áras an Uachtaráin, Guinness, Clerys, the Gaiety Theatre, Dr Steevens’ Hospital, the Bank of Ireland, the Department of Defence, the Departments of Agriculture and Fisheries, CIÉ, Portmarnock Golf Club, Clontarf Golf Club and several leading hotels

Notable to the current day is first, the recent existence of these work camps. During our adult lives, women were being treated as slave labor – not in some distant third world hellhole, but in Europe, part of the so-called “civilized” Western world. This isn’t something that happened many centuries ago – the doors closed less than 20 years ago.

As well, this could be considered a case study in the incremental enslavement of a group of people. The laundries went from a reformatory for prostitutes to a voluntary respite for unwed mothers to a prison for women who had only committed petty crimes, to those whose only crime was being prettier than others. Is it a stretch that one of the many empty FEMA camps might start out housing the victims of a natural disaster, then overreach to keep them there, involuntarily? Could the reach of those camps then stretch to encompass those who believe differently, behave differently, learn differently or look differently? Remember, the Magdalene Laundries grew to encompass more and more “crimes” as time went on – including some things that were only crimes from the perspective of the church or a bitter judge.

This demonstrates clearly how those in “power” seem to feel that the laws and mores that confine the rest of the world do not apply to them. The Catholic Church has a long history of covering for the sexual predators in their ranks. (How often have you read about priests who commit the grave sin of molesting the children of their congregation simply sent to be the wolf among a different flock?) In this case the Church knowingly profited from slavery for close to a century.

Governments in general are rife with corruption, no matter what part of the world they are in. In Ireland, women who were outside the norm were the targets. Is it hard to imagine that a group that vocally disagrees with the government could not be likewise targeted, especially considering the facilities in which to house them already exist?

Finally, the Magdalene Laundries were publicly allowed free reign in enslaving and abusing the inmates, granted by the Catholic Church and the Irish government. (The combination of Church and government has never boded well for those under the thumb of the two.) This occurred right under the noses of “good people”, who were brainwashed by Church and media to believe that it was acceptable. The entire society didn’t have to be overthrown to allow this to happen – they just had to be convinced (read: programmed) to believe that this was for the safety and moral well-being of the community. It is not farfetched to imagine the same thing happening right now as the media paints Patriots, preppers, gun owners, and survivalists as domestic terrorists and loose cannons from whom the public needs to be protected.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at


This article may be re-posted in full with attribution.


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Anonymous said...

Buy an Apple Ipod or other crap from them and you support modern real time slave shops just like the Magdelene Sisters ran. They use Chinese slaves instead of Irish ones.

Buy any Chinese stuff from Walmart and you support modern day Magdelene Sisters labor camps.

If we learn anything from the 'past' we apply those lessons in the present if we are good people.

Anonymous said...

In defense of the Catholic nuns, all they were doing was following good sound economic principals.
To quote a well respected source.....

"President Obama proposed raising the national minimum wage to $9/hour during his State of the Union address drawing cheers from the left.
Unfortunately they have little understanding of economics. Forced minimum wages will destroy or offshore many more jobs in America."

If the poor Catholic nuns were forced to pay a higher wage to their workers, those jobs could have been outsourced. What were those nuns to do? Sound economic theory tells us that the free market forced those nuns to pay their workers a wage that allowed them to compete.
Read all about sound economic theory and how minimum wages are bad, read it here.

Anonymous said...

"not in some distant third world hellhole, but in Europe, part of the so-called “civilized” Western world."

europe is 'civilized' ???? news to me!

Dr. Goldstein said...

The American Economy would be stronger and unemployment would be lower, were it not for forced labour in America's privately-owned prisons.

Normal companies cannot compete with prison factories that pay inmates 18 cents per hour.

The main companies that exploit prison labour are Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group, and Wackenhut.

Slavery is still alive and well in America. The slaves are mostly non-violent victims of the Drug War, of which 80% is the War on Pot.

Anonymous said...

"If the poor Catholic nuns were forced to pay a higher wage to their workers, those jobs could have been outsourced."

Did you not read the article?

"The women toiled behind locked doors unable to leave after being admitted and while the laundries were paid, they received no wages."

Try using a better analogy next time.

Anonymous said...

S-l-o-w t-y-p-i-n-g m-y r-e-p-l-y 2:59 f-o-r y-o-u, OK?

The cruelty of the Catholic sweat shop is obvious, obvious to anyone who can read.
The link was to an Activist Post article up for a few days here that made ridiculous claims blaming labor for America's economic woes. Try checking a link and having a clue next

Anonymous said...

WTF does Ireland have to do with the mythical FEMA camps?

I KNOW that the claims about FEMA camps are utterly false, having been a shortwave host on Quayle's radio show, speaking to many people, investigating the claims and so forth. They do not exist.

Anybody that claims they do needs to bring forth some real evidence, which has yet to happen after nearly two decades of these b.s. claims.

This is a stupid article, using conjecture and straw arguments. The Activist is promoting absolute BULLSHIT, and this author needs to be slapped.

This is what is wrong with the prepper / patriot / conservative "movement", it takes a dump in people's mind, injecting absolute crap into their arguments.

You can do better. Get the FACTS before spewing forth more nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I have seen two of these FEMA camps at Ft. Dix N.J. The signs on them say they belong to the DoD not the BoP (Bureau of Prisons). Refugees from the Sandy hurricane were kept in some of the NY & NJ FEMA camps.

Anonymous said...

Anon who posted above me is full of shit! they do exist, and the Mormon Church members will be the guards and Admins.

Dr. Goldstein said...

To: NWO Cheerleader at 5:54 PM

Who pays you to troll these forums and attack the"prepper / patriot / conservative "movement" as you call it?

Everybody knows the Pentagon, Mossad, CIA, MI6, and these other COINTELPRO groups are hiring lowlifes to butt-in on forums. Stay away from Citizens who are simply exercising their freedom of expression, criticizing our Criminal (corporate-controlled) Governments, and speaking up for constitutional rights you will never understand.

Why don't you just go back home to Tel-Aviv, and stop trolling forums with your transparent NWO doublespeak? You only confirm what the writers here have been telling us was coming.

We don't need you. We don't want you. Go tell your handlers that the regulars at Activist Post can spot NWO shills like you a mile away.

Anonymous said...

I am very glad AP is finally getting this story out about the Laundries. Yes, I can definitely see this as a prime example of what the NDAA camps would/are like. The last videos I've seen of the FEMA camps show people and KIDS there!!! KIDS!

I wonder if Sinead was making a statement about the Laundries by keeping her hair so short all those years. I think back to all the insane things she did on stage and TV at the height of her popularity and NOW it all makes sense! I wish that the information about the Laundries had come out sooner. I wish reporters had seen fit to publish such information here.

Lady Portia said...

"Remember, the Magdalene Laundries grew to encompass more and more “crimes” as time went on – including some things that were only crimes from the perspective of the church or a bitter judge."

Yes, this was Ireland and nothing much has changed. Most Irish people are still brainwashed to not question the men of God, men in white coats or any authority.

This is 2013 and in secret courts here we still have bitter judges who despise mothers/women and remove children in cahoots with social workers. The sadistic psychopaths love punishing women for reporting domestic violence or sexual abuse of their children.There is no greater pain for a mother than to take her child and forcibly adopt it or warehouse it for profit.

In Ireland in law "judges etc are trained to see all Irish women before the courts as feeble minded. How dare they come forward and report on male abusers and rapists.

We still have the Inquisition courts that declare strong women witches and bitter judges can in secret remove all Her property etc.

Women do not need broomsticks or practice witchcraft to be labelled witches.

This is also true in UK Liverpool and other areas.

Mothers on Trial is an excellent account of this worldwide issue.

Eve was Framed is another excellent read showing how under patriarchy Eve ill Eve is always the scapegoat and everything is her fault and women receive sentences up to 7 times more severe than men, but the media report law being lenient on women, but this barrister illustrates otherwise.

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