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DIRTY WASHING; Now REAL Magdalene victims rubbish Kathy's abuse claims.

Byline: By PETER DELANEY

A GROUP of women abused in the Magdalene Laundries yesterday said a book written by a former "victim" was full of lies.

Kathy O'Beirne's heart-rending story has been an international smash hit - selling more than 350,000 copies worldwide.

In her harrowing book, Ms O'Beirne describes how she was raped and beaten by priests in the notorious laundries.

Church bosses claimed Ms O'Beirne, 50, never stayed in the laundries - and the best-selling book is a work of fiction.

Yesterday a Justice For Magdalenes spokesman said: "We know that Kathy's story is not fully true, this information came from our most trusted source - genuine Magdalene survivors and people familiar with High Park during the time that Kathy was there. Even women who were not in High Park could tell that Kathy was not in a laundry because of the way she spoke of her time there."

The book has shot to the top of the bestseller list in the UK - and has turned over more than EUR6.5million worldwide.

Ms O'Beirne says any money she makes from the book - an estimated e650,000 - will be donated to two unnamed orphanages in Ireland. The Justice for Magdalenes spokesman added: "The committee has been aware for some time that there were holes or flaws in Kathy's history. We chose not to engage in attacks or public rebuttals out of respect not only for what Kathy believes is the truth - but for the survivors and victims of both Magdalene laundries and other Irish institutions."

But the publishers of Kathy's Story said they will continue to support the book. Mainstream Publishing director Bill Campbell said: "We have used every possible effort to establish the truth of Kathy's memoir.

"We invited comments and corrections from the Church - and we received no substantive response. It takes us by complete surprise that 18 months after publication there is a sudden vendetta against the book."

Last month, the Irish Sunday Mirror revealed how Kathy's own family had denounced the book.

A Let Our Voices Emerge spokesman said: "The family have always supported their sister, through many of her difficulties out of loyalty to her.

"But they had to experience the pain of seeing her father brandished worldwide in a book without any recall to justice whatsoever." Last night, Ms O'Beirne was unavailable for comment.

Around 30,000 young women were sent to the laundries to be "washed" of their so-called sexual sins. Scores of them died there.

The O'Beirne family plan to hold a press conference in Dublin on Tuesday to denounce the book.
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 17, 2006
Words:429
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