Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Kenny sorry for 'stigma' of being in Magdalene laundries, but stops short of full apology

The Taoiseach has stopped short of issuing a full apology to the women detained in Magdalene laundries.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Enda Kenny said he was sorry that the stigma of being in the laundries was not removed, sorry that people lived in the environment and sorry that it took until July 2011 to instigate the McAleese committee report.

The report, which will be published at 4pm today, found clear evidence of state involvement in the religious-run workhouses but says there was a legal basis for the state's actions.

Senator McAleese's report finds that more than a quarter of 10,000 women who entered the laundries were referred there by the state.

The Taoiseach said people needed to read the report, which he said painted a picture of a harsh, uncompromising and authoritarian Ireland from the 1920s to the 1950s.

But Enda Kenny did not offer a full apology as many survivors had called for.

"The stigma that the branding together of the residents in the Magdalene laundries needs to be removed and should have been removed long before this," he said.

"I'm sorry that never happened and I'm sorry that people lived in that kind of environment."

Magdalene Laundries survivor Mary Smith said the "soul-destroying" laundries were "worse than any prison...I'll go to my grave with this pain."

She called on the Government and religious orders should acknowledge the wrong that was done to the women and "the scars that will never go away".

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