Just one of the religious orders that ran Magdalene laundries has offered a specific apology to the women who suffered in their care.
Religious Sisters of Charity, which ran laundries in Donnybrook,
Dublin, and Peacock Lane, Cork, offered an apology but also said it
acted in good faith.
“We apologise un-reservedly to any woman
who experienced hurt while in our care. In good faith we provided refuge
for women at our Magdalene homes in Donnybrook and Peacock Lane. Some
of the women spent a short time with us; some left, returned and left
again and some still live with us,” said a statement.
However, the remaining orders insisted they acted in good faith.
The Good Shepherd Sisters, which ran laundries in Limerick, Waterford,
Cork, and New Ross, said in a statement: “We were part of the system
and the culture of the time.
“We acted in good faith providing
a refuge and we sincerely regret that women could have experienced hurt
and hardship during their time with us.”
of the Sisters of Mercy, which ran institutions in Galway and Dún
Laoghaire in Dublin, said it accepted the limitations of the care it
provided for women.
“Their institutional setting was far
removed from the response considered appropriate to such needs today. We
wish that we could have done more and that it could have been
“It is regrettable that the Magdalene homes had to
exist at all. Our sisters worked in the laundries with the women and,
while times and conditions were harsh and difficult, some very
supportive, lifelong friendships emerged and were sustained for several
decades,” the order said a statement.
The Sisters of Our Lady
of Charity of Refuge, which ran laundries at Drumcondra and Seán
MacDermott St in Dublin, stressed that its intention was always to
provide care and refuge to the women in its care.
of why a woman was in a refuge or how she came to be there, we
endeavoured to provide care. It is with deep regret that we acknowledge
that there are women who did not experience our refuge as a place of
protection and care,” said the order.
“Further, it is with
sorrow and sadness that we recognise that for many of those who spoke to
the inquiry that their time in a refuge is associated with anxiety,
distress, loneliness, isolation, pain and confusion and much more.”
The Conference of Religious of Ireland, the umbrella group for
religious orders, said the report noted the issue was not just about
the religious, but about many other strands of Irish society.
“These refuges or homes were an inherited service and system widely used
throughout Europe and elsewhere at that time. This care system —
designed essentially for women who were destitute — was basic and
inadequate when viewed in the 2013 context, but in its time was provided
in good faith. The laundries were the principal means of support for
the greater part of the history of the running of the refuges.”
Executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gorman,
said the scale of the human rights abuses revealed in the report
demanded the State issue an immediate apology, and offer reparations for
what the women endured.