Taoiseach makes historic apology to Magdalenes


Tue, Feb 19, 2013

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has apologised to the women who spent time in the Magdalene laundries.

In an emotional speech, which was greeted by loud applause, Mr Kenny said: “This is a national shame for which I say again I am deeply sorry and offer my full and heartfelt apologies.”

Opening the Dáil debate tonight on the McAleese report, Mr Kenny said the Magdalene laundries were reserved for what was offensively and judgementally called fallen women.

The women, he added, were wholly blameless.

He added: “I, as Taoiseach, on behalf of this State, the Government and our citizens, deeply regret and apologise unreservedly to all those women for the hurt that was done to them, for any stigma they suffered as a result of the time they spent in the Magdalene laundry.”

Mr Kenny said the women deserved more than a formal apology.

He said the Government had asked the president of the Law Reform Commission, Judge John Quirke, to undertake a three-month review and make recommendations about the criteria that should be applied in assessing the help the Government could provide in the area of payments and other supports, including medical cards, psychological and counselling services and other welfare needs.

The terms of reference for Judge Quirke were published this evening following Mr Kenny’s speech.

When Judge Quirke has reported, a fund will be established to assist the women based on his recommendations.

“I am confident that this process will enable us to provide speedy, fair and meaningful help to the women in a compassionate and non-adversarial way,” Mr Kenny said.

“The reality is….. that for 90 years ….. Ireland subjected these women and their experience….. to a profound and studied indifference,” Mr Kenny said.

“We now know that the State itself was directly involved in over a quarter of all admissions to the Magdalene Laundries.”

Mr Kenny said he hoped the publication of the McAleese Report and the Government’s apology would make a contribution to the healing process.

For decades thousands of women and girls, often unmarried mothers and women who left their husbands, were placed into work-houses.

Concluding his apology, Mr Kenny said: “Let me hope that this day and this debate heralds a new dawn for all those who feared that the dark midnight might never end.”

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said he wanted to join the Taoiseach “in offering, on behalf of the State and the Irish people, a heartfelt apology to the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries.”

Commenting on the possibility of restitution, he said there was “a role” for the religious orders which ran the laundries, “to make a fair contribution, along with the taxpayer”.

“These laundries were private businesses, run by those orders, which benefited from the unpaid labour of the women committed to them,” he said.

Earlier, Independent councillor Mannix Flynn spoke at a candle-lit vigil which was held in solidarity with the women outside Leinster House.

Mr Flynn said the laundries represented “a regime of torture and a regime of slavery throughout this country.”

He said there were “many more” such scandals to be uncovered. He added that “we must remember the children out there still looking for their mothers.”

Spokeswoman for Justice for Magdalenes Claire McGettrick said “these women are our sisters,our mothers, grandmothers, our neighbours and our friends.”

“For decades they have walked a lonely road,” she said.

The vigil was organised by the Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) group and the National Women’s Council of Ireland. Singer Mary Coughlan also took part.

Support package

Three groups that have represented the women – JFM, the London Irish Women Survivors Support Group and Magdalene Survivors Together – agree that a package to assist the women should include pensions, healthcare, counselling, housing services and advice.

They also agree that lump-sum compensation should be paid to them. JFM has proposed a €100,000 sum in addition to a package of services including pensions and lost wages. That figure “reflects that women are forgoing important legal rights to go before the courts”, JFM has said.

At the weekend Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch said the package provided to the women would be assessed on an individual basis.

The McAleese report found that the State referred or facilitated the transfer of at least 26.5 per cent of women to the laundries, based on available records. It also found direct State involvement in key areas such as the funding and inspection of the laundries.

More than 10,000 women and girls entered the 10 laundries between 1922 and 1996. Referrals made or facilitated by the State included 2,124 of the 8,025 cases for which reasons are known.

The report also stated that 61 per cent of the women spent less than a year in the laundries and that their average age at time of entry was 24.

© 2013 irishtimes.com

Link to original article with videos


12 Responses to “Taoiseach makes historic apology to Magdalenes”

  1. Martha says:


    “Yes, but he does also say that these same laundries …”

    Yes, does he also say that these same laundries etc … (were financed by the Irish taxpayers, and still are) ???

    No, he doesn’t !!!

  2. Martha says:

    From the article:

    Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore is quoted as saying:-

    “These laundries were private businesses, run by those orders, which benefited from the unpaid labour of the women committed to them”

    Yes, but he does also say that these same laundries – like every other institution run by the Roman Catholic Church – were (and still are) FINANCED by the Irish State. In other words, that the Irish Government paid (and still do) the Roman Catholic Church to “run” these institutions, according to their own RC dogma.

    Nice work if you can get it, eh?

    Its like REWARDING a paedophile to sexually molest/rape your child, isn’t it? What sort of Parents would do that to their own offspring?

  3. veronica obrien says:

    The only way i can sum up this whole mess is ,We the victims were the flock of sheep being rounded up by sheperd who were the religous orders , and in turn they fed us to the wolves , the redress board now what chance did any of us have we were doomed from the start .

  4. veronica obrien says:

    I quite agree with you robert everyone should get a fair deal after all abuse comes in many forms , if i could turn the clock back i would have been better off fighting in court and have my say instead i feel i was wrongly advised like all of us ,not to mention the redress board had a clever scheme going on they put the fear of god in us saying that if you did not accept you may have no chance in claiming if it went to court, In my eyes that is a form of bullying to agree to their terms shame on all involved .

  5. robert says:

    I came across this article thanks to a survivor.

    If this is the case all the best to the ladies but then we can see now the injustice and views regarding children of abuse as they have lost whole childhoods and worked also, BUT this sum alone is way above the compensation toward them, many survivors were not strong enough to realise how they were ripped off by the lawyers forced to sign pushed to believe they were being paid a good deal that if they argued the sum they may face less or even have to go to court so I say the Religious contributions must top up the child abuse cases in full. OR THIS WHOLE ISSUE REGARDING OUR IRISH HISTORY WILL BE ALSO A RECORD OF FURTHER ABUSE OF OUR RIGHTS AS SURVIVOR.

  6. robert says:

    The ladies can return the favor and also support justice for the children we are all one of the same, SURVIVORS of child abuse are still suffering thanks to the Education Minister charging them for funds from survivors own compensation that simply do not fit the lifestyle they are living as welfare has removed much needed funds survivors once relied upon that redress was to be seen as sufficient savings thus the burn out of redress where the Government win it all back.
    There still is NO SYSTEM put in place for ALL survivors, remember children also worked in laundries, farms, private hire, and the institutions themselves manufacturing, many items beginning with rosary beads, handkerchiefs, and were used as servants to the rich. It was the children who had to do the work to look after themselves whilst the christian brothers and nuns took the credit.
    Even prisoners who commit crimes as adults have centers to be rehabbed supported, educated, counciled, at their service so now look at this all again and see the injustice the Government has layed out for those children who had NOTHING AND ARE EXPECTED TO TRY AND LIVE LIVES THEY JUST DO NOT SEEM TO UNDERSTAND AT ALL.
    Please support those who suffered child abuse now.

  7. robert says:

    Sorry Paddy the words “2 to 3 yr olds” is what I meant.

    Any child under the age of college and university were exempt from the funds so this Minister LIED IN HIS STATEMENT THEIR CHILDREN AND THEIR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN.
    Why did it take over a year for this education office to write to me saying my child was refused due to not filling in the appropriate forms???????


  8. robert says:

    Well Paddy if it were not for your hard work keeping this site going, and the survivors who constantly were brave enough to air their views in support for the ladies in question as in the past for the children all who had suffered have now been brought to light and recognized for the damage done, we I believe still have a long way to go for all to force this Government and Religious to fund a system that us institutionalized people who suffered where real support, healing, care and all that is so much needed to comfort our personal lives as redress is no way enough, this redress paid to survivors is no way enough to cover the great damage done where complete childhoods were lost that the redress office and all involved failed to understand as they would never have suffered as much. It is shocking and still rotten to the core that mitigating circumstances where it was not our faults that we have to live this life we were deat with by these so-called institutions and the very amount of abuse that had taken place in them, on how we as a single sex were cut out from a society a way of family life, nothing but a number of a concentration camp where all was missing was the gas chambers but then there were those who’s lives were lost then and to this day suffering a life that has been scarred, physically and emotionally. We now have survivors having to pay for that damage done while there is no protection in place to assist survivors as individuals who suffered. The Government’s answer thus far as from the Education Minister himself wants to charge us for an education fund he set up on the leftovers of compensation so well owed to survivors from the very hell we suffered in. I will not rest until this Minister and his Government pay every cent from the Religious to compensate the survivors properly and protect us all from cuts in budgets, we had the rough ride as children now we need a brake to live a safer more prosperous ending at our ages, in our times of need. Why was the hardship fund in welfare removed from survivors? because REDRESS WAS SEEN AS SUFFICIENT SAVINGS all support regarding those of us who have had children in later life these very children were exempt from the funds since the beginning to the shame of this country’s Education Office, We who were born to the system of these PAINFUL INSTITUTIONS FROM SUCH A YOUNG AGE THE VERY SAME AGE OF MY 32TO3 YEAR OLD EVEN YOUNGER SUFFERED THIS FATE AND HERE WE HAVE IT AGAIN THE ROT EATS US UP EVEN MORE TO THE SHAME OF THIS MINISTER QUINN who now wants us all BURIED IN A RELIGIOUS SHRINE OF THE RICH ART WORLD WHO KNOW NOTHING OF OUR SUFFERING. THIS SHRINE MUST BE STOPPED.

  9. Paddy says:

    Thanks for your kind comment Robert, I appreciate it. Paddy

  10. robert says:

    We all owe a massive thank you to Paddy for his work here over the years we are sure it has not been easy as paddy has his problems too, get well Paddy respect for you Robert

  11. robert says:

    Remember Enda recently lost his dear Mother, I met Enda Kenny in West Cork and he got out of his car to shake my hand I could not believe it the press were right on my case about it and I said I have nothing to say just another man shaking another man’s hand out of respect all I said to him was I am a survivor and I am back home he was very honest and I know for sure in a hand shake looking into the eyes he as a person is good, so I believ he is sincere but one thing for sure I am very angry at the Education Minister Quinn for invented funds paid out of religious conpensation as he grabs back over 500 million plus from much needed religious compensation what ever anyone else hears this is the truth, as his office still has not made known who actually benefitted from the funds we all know for sure family members alone did so except for survivors without family and survivors very young children who were left out of all deals made between Government, Religious and stupid egotistic leaders, once more I am so annoyed that only the survivors who have been acting on here and verious sites have been fighting on behalf of these ladiies and survivors themselves. 18000 survivors came and onlky a handful made a stand it’s no wonder the Education Minister can make such ridiculous claims that the majority want only 1/5th of their contribution from the religious and then be forced to fund his office for yet another education fund. THIS IS SHOCKING AND CERTAINLY CORRUPT AND CORRUPTION MOVES WHEN NO ONE OR JUST THE FEW MAKE A STAND

  12. Christina says:

    Yesterday, I saw Enda crying. I couldn’t figure out whether he was genuinely sad about the suffering of the Magdalene women or if he was just, maybe, feeling a bit sorry for himself? Firstly, he’s known of the suffering of the women for years and secondly, he was kind of pressured in to the apology.

    That said, I do think the man is a good human being so maybe I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’s just an emotional kind of guy!