Published on 18 April 2018

18 April 2018

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall today welcomed the Minister for Justice and Equality’s announcement that it will move forward on implementing the recommendations following the investigation into how the Department of Justice and Equality administered the Magdalen Restorative Justice scheme.

The report of his investigation, Opportunity Lost, was critical of how the Department administered the scheme, including how some women who worked in the Magdalen laundries have been wrongly refused access to the scheme.

The Government signalled its agreement to three of the recommendations and had been considering the fourth in respect of eligibility for admission to the scheme.   

Commenting on today’s announcement Ombudsman Peter Tyndall said:

“This is a significant step forward for the women who were so badly treated when in the Magdalen laundries.  Since the publication of the report we have had positive discussions with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice and Equality.  I am grateful to them for their intervention.  However, it is now essential that there is an early and full outcome and that the women do not face further unnecessary delay.

Our Office expects to be fully engaged with the work of the Senior Counsel and working group as was agreed at the meeting with the Taoiseach and Minister for Justice and Equality”.

The Ombudsman’s report was published in November 2017.  It recommended:

Eligibility for admission to the scheme

  • The Department should reconsider an application (with a view to accepting it) where there is evidence that a woman worked in one of the listed laundries but was officially recorded as having been “admitted to” a training centre or industrial school located in the same building, attached to or located on the grounds of one of the laundries.

Application Process

  • The Department should review any cases where there is a dispute over the length of stay and all available sources of information should be considered.


  • In relation to the cases of women who lacked capacity to manage their affairs, the Department has belatedly requested that these women be made Wards of Court. Despite concerns over the suitability of the Wards of Court system, the Ombudsman has reluctantly accepted that this is the only realistic option. The Department should work with the Courts Service to ensure any Ward of Court application is processed in a timely and sensitive manner.

Developing Future Schemes

  • While not directed at the Department, the Ombudsman recommends that guidance be produced centrally on the development and operation of future restorative justice or redress schemes.

The full report, Opportunity Lost, is available on the Ombudsman’s website

Media release, November 2017, following publication of the Ombudsman’s report.