MINISTER FOR JUSTICE Alan Shatter has dropped the strongest hint yet that the Taoiseach will apologise to the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries.
Shatter told the Dáil that the Government is committed to “bringing closure” for the women and said Enda Kenny will respond in a “fair and compassionate way” next week.
The Taoiseach had been criticised for not immediately apologising on behalf of the State when the McAleese report into State involvement at the laundries was published last week. Some of the survivors said they were “devastated” when Enda Kenny stopped short of a full apology to at least 10,012 women who carried out forced labour at the laundries from 1922 onwards.
However the head of the Magdalene Survivors Together group, which met with Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore on Monday, said the meeting was “hugely significant” and that the women were very hopeful that an apology would now be forthcoming.
In response to a question from Dublin West TD Patrick Nulty about whether the Taoiseach would be apologising, the Justice Minister told the Dáil:
The Government is committed to playing its full part in a healing and reconciliation process with a view to bringing closure for the women concerned.
When we have a full debate in the House next week, the Deputy can be assured that An Taoiseach, who has been meeting some of the women involved, will be responding to the significant issues identified in the McAleese Report in a fair and compassionate way.
The McAleese report found that the State was complicit in sending just over one quarter of the women to the Catholic-run institutions.
The Dáil has set aside time to debate the McAleese report next week. It is expected that the issue of compensating the women for the work they did will also be addressed.