Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD, has expressed her deep disappointment at the Taoiseach’s failure to apologise to the surviving women of the Magdalene Laundries for the state’s role in their incarceration in these brutal institutions.
Deputy McDonald TD said:
“The report sets out definitely direct state involvement in the Magdalene Laundries. Governments of the day oversaw the unpaid forced labour endured by the young girls and women who worked in the laundries without pay or proper care. Courts placed women and girls in the laundries. Gardaí returned those who sought to escape.
“The Taoiseach’s response to the Magdalene Laundries report is deeply disappointing. Whilst this is a lengthy report and its details must be studied carefully, state involvement in the operation of the laundries has already been proven. Senator McAleese’s report simply reiterates that fact. So while the manner of compensation for the women requires consideration the absolute need for a full apology does not.
“Time is of the essence for the surviving women. They are elderly and many are unwell. They have lived with the stigma of the Magdalene Laundries and the brutality they experienced during their incarceration for their entire lives.
“The Taoiseach spoke of the courage of the women coming forward to tell their true stories: I only wish that their courage was matched today by some courage on the government’s part.
“The time for an apology is now. These women were not residents voluntarily offering their services and labour but were young, vulnerable women who were held in institutions, imprisoned and exploited.
“I am so disappointed for the surviving women, that the Taoiseach would not say today that the state was culpable and negligent, that the women told the truth and the government believes their stories and for that, it is sorry.
“A Dáil debate on the report is due in two weeks’ time. I am calling on the Taoiseach to come to the debate with a full apology on behalf of the state followed swiftly by details of a transparent redress scheme for the surviving women. Survivors must be compensated for lost wages and pension. Health and housing needs must be provided for.”