THE MINISTER FOR Justice has this morning refused to admit that the State’s involvement in the Magdalene Laundries system was wrong.
“I don’t want to use that type of language,” Alan Shatter told Morning Ireland after being asked by reporter Gavin Jennings, “Was it wrong for the State to collude with the enslavement of women and children?”
He added, “It is absolutely clear that the laundries were a cold and harsh environment.”
Shatter said the Government needs to reflect on Senator Martin McAleese’s report and all the information available to establish what can be done for individuals whose lives have been “blighted and burdened” by stays in the laundries.
“Yesterday was a very important day. This was a watershed report that did cast light on areas that had been in the shadows. I’m pleased that the report has now been published. And of course we accept the content of the report.”
He noted that there was a “varied story” in the report, citing that 74 per cent of Magdalenes came through routes other than the State. “Sadly and tragically, many of them were put in the laundries by their own family members, others volunteered to become residents because of their own impoverishment and circumstances.”
Of the residents, 26 per cent came through various State processes, including the criminal justice system and industrial schools.
Shatter criticised opposition TDs who called for an apology yesterday before reading the report in full.
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald refuted the claim, stating that much of the material in the report was already in the public domain.
“They didn’t need to go to the lengths of reading all of the thousand pages, to read very clearly, without a shadow of a doubt, State complicity in the holding of these women was established.
“That is the basis of a which an apology is due.
“Can I remind you that Alan Shatter made demands while on the Opposition benches? He said at that time that there was irrefutable evidence of State.”
McDonald said she “had a sense yesterday that An Taoiseach was circling the wagons to protect, as he saw it, the State. There is no doubt about that. He was deliberately setting out his stall to minimise the damage done to the women and to minimise the offence of the State.”
“Here’s the difficulty: the report clearly states there was substantial State complicity in the operating of the laundries. There is a liability on the State. That is just the factual position.”
Read TheJournal.ie’s coverage of the Magdalene Laundries report:
- ‘We still live in a Magdalene Ireland’
- Government memo from 1942 seeks advice on dealing with ‘immoral’ girls
- Government departments used Magdalene laundries to do their washing
- In their own words: Survivors’ accounts of life inside a Magdalene Laundry
- How Twitter reacted to the Magdalene Laundry report
- Religious orders offer apology for abuse in Magdalene Laundries
- Magdalene Laundries made very little money, says report
- In numbers: the report into the State’s role in the Magdalene Laundries
- VIDEO: Taoiseach stops short of apologising for Magdalene Laundries, angering survivors
- Magdalene Laundries report finds direct State involvement