Hundreds of well-wishers have turned out in Dublin city centre this evening to welcome more than 220 survivors of the Magdalene Laundries as they arrived for a gala dinner at the Mansion House.

Earlier this afternoon, the women attended a special reception at Áras an Uachtaráin today hosted by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.

It was the first time survivors of the Magdalene Laundries from Ireland, the UK, the US and Australia have been brought together.

Members of the public greet survivors of the Magdalene Laundries at the Mansion House

The event organisers, Dublin Honours Magdalenes, said it gave many Magdalene women their first opportunity to speak freely to others who were effectively incarcerated in the laundries.

The gathering fulfils two key aspects of the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme, established by the Fine Gael-Labour government five years ago, which is to bring together women who spent time in the institutions and also to gather views on how the Magdalene Laundries should be remembered by future generations.

This afternoon’s reception at Áras an Uachtaráin was followed by a gala dinner at the Mansion House in Dublin.

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Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he was satisfied that all women involved can participate in the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Flanagan said it did take some time to get to where we are and that was a matter of regret for him.

Mr Flanagan said that before the Ombudsman's report, more than 100 women had been refused access to the scheme.

He said it was essential that these women be able to apply and he would re-advertise the scheme more widely.

He said he hoped that the remaining issues would be addressed by the end of the year.

"It did take some time and it's a matter of regret to me that it took some time," the minister said. 

"But, I'm very pleased now that we have agreed, and the Government has agreed, to a proposal I made last week to apply the restorative justice scheme to women who worked in the laundries that weren't initially involved in the redress scheme because they were resident in adjoining institutions.

"That was an important step in implementing the key recommendations of the Ombudsman's report. Between now and the end of the year I would hope to oversee the implementation of the remaining issues here," said Mr Flanagan.