Magdalene Laundries: Reaction to the McAleese report
- 5 February 2013
- From the section Europe
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has apologised for the stigma and conditions suffered by women who were inmates of the Magdalene laundries.
Mr Kenny said the laundries had operated in a "harsh and uncompromising Ireland," but he stopped short of a formal apology from the government.
About 10,000 women passed through the laundries in the Irish Republic between 1922 and 1996, a report has revealed.
The laundries were Catholic-run workhouses that operated in Ireland.
A number of organisations and survivors have responded to the report.
Maureen Sullivan, survivor
In the report I find that some people are still in denial and yet there are other parts that clearly state and people can see we were telling the truth all along.
I ask for an apology from the religious orders and I ask the Prime Minister of my country to give us an apology, they took my education and they took my identity.
Marina Gambold, survivor
When I came out of the convent I was determined to get out of Ireland.
I was 19 years of age then.
I had a nervous breakdown. Most of the time I have cried bitter tears, especially when I had nobody and I never knew my parents and the pain never goes away. I will be very happy if the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) apologises.
The apology would be worth a million dollars to me.
Good Shepherd Sisters
We welcome the publication of this comprehensive report on state involvement and other related matters in regard to the Magdalene laundries.
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. 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.
We have noted in the report that "the lack of information given to some women, as to why they were sent and the length of time they would remain" was hugely upsetting for these women.
In truth most of us were often not privy to this information. However, this should not have happened and we fully understand how wrong and upsetting this must have been.
We have been meeting and will continue to meet these women personally, to listen to them compassionately and to discuss, if they so wish, their on-going concerns.
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge
For the past 160 years in Ireland our intention has been to offer refuge to women in need. 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.
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 more.
We hope that this report gives all women who lived in refuges and worked in laundries a sense that they have been heard, believed and are not forgotten. Our desire is that this report contributes to the healing and to the peace of mind that the chairman referred to in his introduction.