Speaking in the Dáil today on the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information against Children) Bill 2012 Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD described the Bill as an important piece of legislation that “signals the end of a culture of containment and silence in Ireland.”
Deputy McDonald said:
“This legislation seeks to further protect our children and vulnerable adults. It is a foundation to build upon. Robust support mechanisms must now be implemented without delay.
“This legislation is an acknowledgement by the Government that the decades of horrific abuse experienced by our children will never be tolerated again.
“However we cannot talk about the future protection of children and vulnerable adults without highlighting the failure of this Government to redress the wrongs of the past.
“In opposition Fine Gael and Labour regularly berated Fianna Fáil led Governments for failing to provide redress to the survivors and an apology to the women and children incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries and Bethany Home.
“The reality of course is that the State has already conceded this abuse that took place as documented in the Ryan Report. There is a mountain of physical evidence showing State involvement in the Laundries and the Bethany. Heart-breaking testimonies support this evidence.
“Survivors do not have time on their side; they are elderly and many have serious health problems as a result of the abuse they suffered. They need urgent access to healthcare. Magdalene women continue to be denied pension supports despite decades of work in the laundries, once used by government departments.
“Fine Gael and Labour in Government can no longer shirk their responsibility to the survivors of Bethany and the Magdalene Laundries.”