Speaking during the Report Stage debate in the Dáil on the Residential Redress Statutory Fund Bill, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe, TD, has described the government’s refusal to provide separate redress schemes for the women of the Magdalene Laundries and former residents of Bethany Home as “disgraceful and indefensible”.
The Dublin South West TD was speaking after his amendment seeking separate Redress Boards for the survivors of both these institutions was ruled out of order.
Deputy Seán Crowe said: “There is a wealth of evidence which shows the extent of the abuse inflicted on people who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in the Magdalene Laundries or in Bethany Home.
“Despite the past statements of Labour and Fine Gael TDs in support of the Magdalene women and the survivors of Bethany when in opposition they now remain silent and do nothing. In the case of Bethany, they have failed to even consider those past residents for any form of redress, and the Magdalene women have been denied their basis right to a pension.
“The government has refused to address this issue by using the excuse that the laundries were privately owned and operated and that the State was not complicit in referring individuals to them. Similarly, the excuse used by Minister Quinn and his predecessor not to include Bethany Home in the schedule of redress for survivors of abuse was because it was a privately run mother and baby institution. This is not good enough and contradicts what Labour was saying when in opposition.
“Bethany Home represents the abandonment of the State’s duty of care to women and children in institutions run with a supposed religious ethos which in reality was more about regulating sectarian segregation than providing adequate healthcare provision in places that were supposed to be safe havens for some of our most vulnerable citizens. We know that large numbers of children died in Bethany home while others suffered illness and abuse.
“One year on from the United Nations Convention Against Torture recommending the Magdalene women receive a formal apology from the State, and proper redress the government fails to act. The women and children held in these institutions suffered the most degrading and appalling treatment and deprivations imaginable under the State’s watch. It is simply unacceptable that they are denied any form of acknowledgement for their suffering.”