Thursday, February 07, 2013

Magdalene survivors call for meeting with Taoiseach about apology

http://images.smh.com.au/2013/02/06/4011026/mb-irishwidelead1-20130206194324923763-620x349.jpgA group of Magdalene laundry survivors has called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to meet them to discuss the need for an apology.

"By meeting these women, he will understand the social significance of apologising," said Steven O'Riordan, of the group Magdalene Survivors Together, which represents 27 women who were in the laundries.
Debate 

They want a meeting ahead of a Dáil debate in two weeks on the report into the laundries, published on Tuesday, he said.

He explained that the women were upset at the lack of an apology and also at how Mr Kenny, in a Dáil statement on Tuesday, linked them with other groups including people who suffered as a result of symphysiotomy and thalidomide.

"The way they looked on it was they had been campaigning on this for a long time . . . they thought they would be celebrating after getting an apology," Mr O'Riordan added.

He said the group had received support in calls and emails from people around the world and in Ireland since the report was published.

It has also been contacted by families and survivors of the institutions. Mr O'Riordan said a further six women had come forward since the report was published.

"One woman [ a survivor] simply walked into the Clonmel citizens' advice centre in Tipperary and asked for my number. It is incredible to think that it has taken that woman 44 years to finally have courage to come forward."

Advocacy group Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) said compensation should be paid to women depending on their needs. 

"If the banks can be bailed out, then putting this right for the Magdalene survivors is minuscule," said JFM member Claire McGettrick.

Floodgates 

There was a fear in Government that an apology could open "floodgates" from people who spent time in mother-and-baby homes and harsh psychiatric institutions. "Tough, they are going to come forward," said Ms McGettrick.

The group had met Mr Kenny in 2009 and "he knows the story", she said.

"The Government has been briefed on this, they have had extensive presentations on it."

She called on the public to contact their local TDs to press for an apology.

"This could be a good news story but for some reason they are choosing to drag it out," she added.

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