Speaking tonight on a Sinn Féin Private Members’ Motion in support of the Magdalene Women’s campaign for justice and redress, the party’s spokesperson on education, Jonathan O’Brien said:
“The government’s refusal to support Sinn Féin’s motion shows its lack of commitment to provide redress for the cruelty and abuse inflicted on the women of the Magdalene Laundries and the survivors of Bethany Home.
“Despite their advancing years, those who survived Bethany Home have campaigned courageously for an apology and an independent inquiry into what happened to them.
“Bethany Home is a place that symbolises the abandonment by the state of its duty of care to women and children. It was also an example of sectarian segregation.
“It is simply scandalous that between 1922 and 1949, more than 220 children died in Bethany Home and 219 were buried in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery. Countless others were abused and suffered illness from years of neglect.
“Earlier this year, when the Residential Statutory Fund Bill was debated, Sinn Féin sought to have established separate redress boards for the Magdalene Women and the Bethany Home Survivors.
“This would have provided some help and support for the suffering of the survivors of these institutions. This humane measure was rejected by Minister Ruairí Quinn who echoed past excuses about the cost to the State.
“The government’s rejection of this motion is a travesty. It exposes the pledges made in opposition by TDs like Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch who stated that the Government must "do the decent thing and end this outrage". These sentiments were echoed by Deputy Joe Costello and others. Yet now that they are in a position to honour these past commitments they refuse to act.
“The women and children unfortunate enough to be held in the Magdalene Laundries and Bethany Home suffered the most degrading and appalling treatment and deprivations imaginable under the State’s watch. It is simply unacceptable that they are still denied any form of acknowledgement. This Government should be compelled to act and meet the very reasonable demands of both these groups.”