Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Opposition brands Kenny a disgrace for failing to apologise

The Taoiseach was branded a "disgrace" by Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald for his failure to apologiseThe Taoiseach was branded a “disgrace” by Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald for his failure to apologise to the residents of Magdalene Laundries “and for the State’s role in their incarceration in these brutal institutions”.

A Dáil debate on yesterday’s 1,000-page report on the institutions has been promised in a fortnight and the opposition parties plan to pile the pressure on the Government to come to it with an apology and a promise of compensation for the victims.

Ms McDonald said the report establishes “direct State involvement” in the operations of 10 laundries by four religious orders — the last of which closed in the 1990s.

“Governments of the day oversaw the unpaid forced labour endured by the young girls and women who worked in the laundries without pay or proper care,” said Ms McDonald.

“Courts placed women and girls in the laundries. Gardaí returned those who sought to escape.”

While the manner of compensation requires consideration, “the absolute need for a full apology does not”, Ms McDonald told the Dáil.

“Time is of the essence for the surviving women. They are elderly and many are unwell. They have lived with the stigma of the Magdalene Laundries and the brutality they experienced during their incarceration for their entire lives.

“The Taoiseach spoke of the courage of the women coming forward to tell their true stories; I only wish that their courage was matched today by some courage on the Government’s part.”

Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman, Niall Collins, called for redress for the victims.

“They worked quite hard in these institutions for no compensation of remuneration, so there is definitely a case for a form of redress.

“What that form takes can be debated, but certainly something that will address the concerns of the Justice for Magdalene groups would be uppermost in people’s minds.”

Mr Collins also said that “as a society we have to apologise” because there was obvious State collusion.

He said it is not good enough for the Government to simply welcome the report.

“It’s time to have a whole comprehensive response from Government and I’m disappointed that we haven’t had that today.”

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