Monday, February 11, 2013

Magdalenes to meet Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny meets Magdalene laundry survivors this afternoon.Members of the Magdalene Survivors Together group are to meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin this afternoon.

Organisation head Steven O’Riordan said he is “delighted that the women are been given a chance to be heard. 

This is a hugely important step for the women. We hope that this will ultimately lead to an official apology".

Maureen Sullivan, survivor of the Magdalene laundries and member of Magdalene Survivors Together, said: “I never thought this day would come that I would be invited to meet the leader of our country. Clearly this man wants to know what he can do for us and it is my intention to make it clear to him what we want. It’s a State apology.”

In all, five women from Magdalene Survivors Together will meet Mr Kenny.

Meanwhile, Justice for Magdalenes, another organisation representing survivors of laundries run by religious orders, has sought clarification as to the purpose of the meeting today, which Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore is also due to attend.

Spokeswoman for Justice for Magdalenes Claire McGettrick last night said the Taoiseach and Tánaiste knew what the issues were and that the women wanted an apology and compensation.

She said the organisation had a survivor-centred ethos and, following communication from the Taoiseach’s department on Friday about the meeting, they sought clarification about its purpose and agenda.

State involvement 

Ms McGettrick said it was very important to note that while the report said 26.5 per cent of the women were in the laundries through State involvement, that figure did not take account of those returned to the laundries by gardaí when they escaped, the financial interactions of the State or official inspections.

Ms McGettrick denied reports that they were snubbing the meeting. She said the women were elderly and private and issues such as media glare were important. When the women met the report committees chairman, then senator Martin McAleese, they were afforded privacy and wanted assurance on this in writing from the Taoiseach’s department, she added.

As pressure mounts on Mr Kenny to issue a full State apology, he and Mr Gilmore will meet the representative organisations at Government Buildings to discuss their concerns in the wake of the report’s publication last week.

Fianna Fáil will introduce a private member’s motion tomorrow night calling for an immediate and unqualified apology to some 1,000 women still alive and for the establishment of a dedicated unit to administer a redress scheme.

Mr Kenny is also expected to face further Opposition questions following his failure to issue an apology to the woman after the report indicated significant State involvement in the laundries.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has given the clearest signal yet that there will be a State apology.

“I am absolutely confident that all these matters will be addressed . . . to the full satisfaction of the women involved, who are the front and centre of our concern,” he said.

Mr Howlin, who was speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, described the laundries as a “shameful episode in our history; one of the many shameful episodes . . . we all want to put behind us now”.

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