Taoiseach says he ‘sorry’ about way Magdalene residents were treated


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he is sorry about the way the10,000 residents of the Magdalene laundries were treated and regretted that the stigma attached to them had not been removed before now.

As an inquiry found 2,124 of those detained in the institutions were sent by the authorities, Mr Kenny expressed his sympathies with survivors and the families of those who have died. “To those residents who went into the Magdalene laundries from a variety of ways, 26 per cent from State involvement, I’m sorry for those people that they lived in that kind of environment,” he said.

However, he stopped short of issuing a full State apology.

The Dáil will debate the report in two weeks, Mr Kenny said, adding that it was not a “single issue story”. The residents arrived in the laundries through a variety of circumstances and for a variety of reasons, “not the least of which was destitution and poverty”, he added.

Mr Kenny said the youngest person to be admitted to the laundries was aged nine and the oldest was 89.

He said action should have been taken before to clear the names and reputations of the women put to work in the institutions. “That the stigma, that the branding together of the residents, all 10,000 needs to be removed and should have been removed long before this and I’m really sorry that that never happened, and I regret that never happened,” Mr Kenny said. “I’m sorry that this release of pressure and understanding of so many of those women was not done before this, because they were branded as being the fallen women, as they were referred to in this State.”

Mr Kenny said the House should absorb the report and reflect on its findings.

There were sharp exchanges between Mr Kenny and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who called on the Taoiseach to issue a formal apology to the former residents of the laundries over the State’s role in referring them there.

Ms McDonald said that the last of the institutions only closed in 1996, so it was not a throwback to the Ireland of the 1940s and 50s.

She added that the Taoiseach should match the courage of the women involved. “I am very alarmed by what you have had to say in the Dáil today,” she added. “We all understand that the report will have to be studied carefully, but let us not forget that a huge amount of information and testimony, historically verified, was already in the public domain prior to the McAleese committee.”

A prominent survivors’ group rejected the Taoiseach’s comments and demanded a fuller and more frank admission from the Government and the religious orders involved. “That is not an apology,” said Maureen Sullivan of Magdalene Survivors Together. “He is the Taoiseach of our country, he is the Taoiseach of the Irish people, and that is not a proper apology.”

The Irish Times 5th February 2013


7 Responses to “However, he (The Taoiseach/Prime Minister) stopped short of issuing a full State apology.”

  1. FXR says:

    The report is exactly what I was expecting. It’s a careful web of Mafia minded evasion that manages to hide the crime and deflect the gaze away from the CCL (the Catholic Church Limited). It was fairly obvious what was going to happen when they put a high level Vatican Arch-Catholic like McAleese in charge. Despite the oceans of abuse, slavery, rape and torture visited on Irish children for decades being revealed daily this guy and his sanctimonious po faced wife trotted the daughter off to Vatican city to be married in the middle of it. His wife is even wont to engage in a little good oul self depreciation in a nun hotel down the bog for a few weeks every year. You can bet there’s a papal medal, maybe even a Vatican knighthood in some loyal subjects future.

    Then of course Enda stands up and puts on the forelock tugging performance that makes him just another fold of the threadbare political cloak that covers over the fact that Ireland has been a Vatican vassal state since 1922. The last reaction should be surprise because that just means you haven’t been paying attention.

  2. Paddy says:

    Thanks for the kind comment Pauline, I appreciate your comment.

  3. pauline says:

    Thanks Paddy for sharing this information. Many of us abroad wouldnt have been able to follow this issue if your site hadent been there. its a change to take part even if its through a computer.

  4. Mary Collins says:

    Irish Government your cowards not to apologies for the wrongs of the passed you have not even contacted me as a daughter of a women in a mass grave as far as I know I am the only living relative of someone who has a mum in these graves and the state was responsible for her dentition. These women suffered so did there families.

  5. pauline says:

    The youngest was nine years old. and her life was given away to the church. names changed and numbers instead in both the industriel schools
    .destitution is also what many of us have on our records. My father lived in his house and worked hard. He lived next door to his sister who had her own business.but thats what the court decided i was destitute. If any of these ladies were destitute like my background well its a wrong interpretion of situations. i was 6 when i went to court. i have never been able to forget the scene. thay just wrote that down to justify the institutions. it was a fear in all of us to be sent there. i was so scared of that that i absconded.

  6. Portia says:

    Are we surprised? No

    Sure they were only women after all.

    Have we evolved since then ? No

    We still have our family court judges groomed in training to see “ALL IRISH MOTHERS AS FEEBLE MINDED”

    Sure we are wonderful, aren’t we?

    let us see what the rest of the Universe has to say about our draconian patriarchal state

  7. Ger says:

    Is it any surprise that the Taoiseach didn’t apologise……….what has really changed in this country? Not a damn thing for most of us.