FIANNA FÁIL HAS tabled motion in the Dáil this evening, calling for the survivors of the laundries to be given a state apology.
Addressing the Dáil, Dara Calleary TD noted that the commissioning and publication of the McAleese Report was “a hugely important step on the part of the government” – but added that government must also focus on the “less than adequate response” to the report’s findings.
He invited everyone present to read the survivor testimonies – provided on behalf of the survivors by the Justice for the Magdalene Group, the Magdalene Survivors together and the Irish Women Survivors Network - to appreciate “the full horrors” of what victims endured.
Calleary said the government amendment chooses some of the findings of the McAleese report to highlight, including:
- The acknowledgement for the first time of significant State involvement in the Magdalene Laundries
- That the traditional stigmatising labels that were often attached to women who were in the Magdalene Laundries were wholly unjustified
- That the report acknowledges that women worked in the severe conditions for no pay
- That many women were not informed of why they were admitted to the Laundries, for how long they had to stay there, and when they could leave
“Nobody will disagree with those findings. Nobody can,” he said. “But the reason we are here tonight is the fact that on the one hand the government acknowledges that all of these wrongs have been committed but on the other is having to be dragged kicking and screaming in to giving a full apology for those wrongs inflicted,” he said.
He said the Taoiseach Enda Kenny was “a very decent person… he has shown that in this chamber on countless occasions”, but added that victims of the Laundries had seen their hopes “cruelly dashed” by the lack of an apology.
We are here to demand justice. We are here because there isn’t time for these women.
Many of them are old, they are physically inform as a result of their experiences, they are suffering mentally. And that is why, alongside our request for an apology, we are proposing the establishment of a dedicated unit within the Department of Justice and Equality to co-ordinate remaining aspects of the State’s response .
“That state response needs to include a healthcare response, a social protection response which must include the examination of pensions that may be due owing to work completed in these laundries and finally an efficient and rapid system of redress for the wrongs inflicted.
And most importantly of all the state, the government, every one of us need to say one word: sorry,” he concluded.