Government’s response to religious orders ‘shocking’
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has described the government’s response to the refusal of four of the religious orders to pay their share of the Magdalene Redress scheme as “wholly inadequate” and “deeply shocking.”
His comments follow the Taoiseach’s rejection this morning of any suggestion that the government should take any further action against the religious orders.
Gerry Adams raised the Magdalene laundries issue during Leaders Questions. He called on the government to “take action to ensure that the religious orders, whose institutions benefited from enslavement of women and girls in their commercial enterprises, pay their fair share into the Magdalene Redress Scheme”.
The Sinn Féin leader also asked the Taoiseach to publish the letters he received from the Orders.
Speaking after the Dáil debate the Sinn Féin leader said:
“In February this year the Taoiseach gave a heartfelt apology on behalf of the State to the surviving women of the Magdalene Laundries for the hurt that was done to them. He quite rightly told the women they were blameless - having been forced to live in the shadows, carrying a deep-set sense of shame that they had done something wrong.
“For the women the Taoiseach’s apology was a turning point – but so too was the government’s announcement of a redress scheme to provide support and desperately needed financial assistance.
“Its decision to make this an ex gratia scheme, and indeed to ask the women to agree to make no further claim against the state if they access the scheme is in marked contrast to the generous tone and content of the apology.
“It is this issue of liability that is clearly motivating the four religious orders refusal to make a financial contribution to the redress scheme. This issue of liability is also what underpins the government’s redress scheme and the refusal to deal with Bethany Home scandal.
“The government’s failure to tackle the elites and to assertively pursue institutions for wrong doing is shocking. And it’s not good enough. The elites – whether financial institutions or religious institutions need to be made accountable to the will of the people.
“It’s no accident that the women and girls were mostly poor. Then as now it’s one law for the rich and another for everyone else.
“It is not good enough for the government to be disappointed, and to hope that the religious orders will do the right thing.
“Yes, the religious orders have a moral and ethical and a social responsibility to contribute to the Magdalene Redress scheme – but the government too has a responsibility to ensure that those responsible for the enslavement of these women and girls are made to contribute to the redress scheme.”