RELIGIOUS orders which operated the Magdalene laundries have insisted that they believe their role was to provide care and refuge.
Sisters of Mercy, which ran institutions in Galway and Dun Laoghaire,
said it accepts the "limitations of the care" it provided.
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 different," the order said.
"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."
Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge, which ran laundries at
Drumcondra and Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin, said their intention
for 160 years was to offer refuge.
"The laundries which
were attached to refuges were hard and demanding places to work. Many
women used our refuges as a place of last resort. There are also many
who found themselves in a refuge through no choice of their own," the
"Regardless 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. 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
The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge said
the challenge now was to move beyond denial, distortion and deletion to
face the reality of how women came to be in a refuge, how they were
treated and how they were treated on the outside.
Shepherd Sisters, which ran workhouses in Limerick, Cork, Waterford and
New Ross, said: "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," the order said.
"It saddens us deeply to hear that
time spent with us, often as part of a wider difficult experience, has
had such a traumatic impact on the lives of these women."
umbrella group for religious orders in Ireland, Conference of Religious
of Ireland (Cori), said it hoped the report would bring reconciliation
"The Magdalene Homes issue was and is not just
about religious, but also involved many other strands of Irish
society," Cori said. "It represents a sad, dark and complex
story, especially for the women involved, many of whom were rejected,
isolated and hurt by a system, which failed to respond with empathy to
their various needs."
Cori said a system of workhouse
designed for the destitute and widely used across Europe was provided in
good faith but "basic and inadequate when viewed in the 2013 context".