The Government has asked the Attorney General to consider the report by the Irish Human Rights Commission into the treatment of women and girls who resided in Magdalene Laundries.

However, in a statement, the Government said it regretted that relevant Departments were not given the chance to contribute to the commission's considerations 'to facilitate a fully-balanced evaluation of all the facts'.

The statement also pointed out that while the commission is entitled to conduct an inquiry itself, it has decided not to do so, but is calling instead for a statutory inquiry.

The Government further noted that the Magdalene Laundries were run 'by a number of religious congregations'.

In its report published today, the IHRC said the courts committed some of the women and girls to the ten institutions concerned.

The IHRC also urged the Government to provide redress for the survivors.

It said serious questions arise in relation to the State's duties to guard against arbitrary detention, compulsory labour and servitude.

Welcoming the IHRC's report, the Justice for Magdalenes organisation called on the four congregations of nuns that ran the institutions to enter talks to bring about reconciliation.

Maeve O'Rourke co-author of Justice For Magdelenes' submission said: 'As the IHRC concludes, there is far too little public information available about the Magdalene Laundries.

'So far, the religious orders have refused to engage. Therefore, the State needs to lead the way. It must convince the church to acknowledge its part in this scandal and to open up its records.

'The State should also call upon the church to honour its moral obligation to find the money to pay its share of compensation to survivors.'