They were slaves.
There's no other way to put it. The women who were locked up in Magdalene laundries for crimes such as having a child out of wedlock, of being particularly atttractive to men, or being illegitimate, all worked for the various religious orders who ran the laundries. Not one of the women received a cent for her toil.
Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan throws up his hands and tells them that there's nothing the government can do. Because they were "employed" by a religious group, their complaint doesn't fall under the scope of the Privacy Bill.
It would require an amendment to the Bill, which Labour's Kathleen Lynch is supporting. However, no such legislation is planned. The Maggies are once again facing continued injustice.
The women went through hell during their time in the laundries. On the heels of the clerical abuse crisis that has rocked the Catholic Church, the inmates sought justice for the misery inflicted on them, but neither the State nor the Church will accept blame.
By not accepting blame, or actively seeking to right the wrong, the Magdalene inmates are continually abused by the government and the Church that worked together to enslave them.
In their old age, their spirits broken and their minds warped by decades of institutionalization, they have nothing to fall back on. No pension, no savings, and many have no families to support them.
They're a passive bunch, the Maggies. Beat a woman down psychologically and she's less likely to rise up.
Makes it easy for the government and the Church to ignore them. Eventually, the old ladies will die off and the problem will be solved.
The slaves in the American south never received old age pensions, but the masters felt it their moral obligation to feed and house those whose toil made them wealthy. The Catholic Church isn't even doing that much for their coterie of slave laborers.