Mar 19 2013
The Irish State has finally said sorry to 10,000 women and girls incarcerated in Catholic Church-run laundries where they were treated as virtual slaves.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was forced into issuing a fulsome apology on Tuesday evening to those held in the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland.
The apology in the Dáil (Irish parliament) came about two weeks after a damning 1,000-plus page report was released detailing the way women and girls were maltreated inside the nun-controlled laundries.
Survivors groups were enfuriated when the Irish premier initially declined a fortnight ago to explicitly apologise for the state’s role in sending women and girls into the Magdalene Laundries, sometimes simply for coming from broken homes or being unmarried mothers.
In a powerful speech to a packed Dáil Eireann, Kenny made some amends for what many view as a major error of judgment on the day the report was released.
At the end of his address, Kenny appeared to break down briefly, choking back tears as he quoted a Magdalene woman’s song to him during a meeting recently.
The Taoiseach said what happened to the Magdalene women had “cast a long shadow over Irish life, over our sense of who we are”.
He said he “deeply regretted and apologised” for the hurt and trauma inflicted upon those sent to the Magdalene Laundries.
Apologising to the women and girls of the Magdalene Laundries, he told parliament that they deserved “the compassion and recognision for which they have fought for so long, deservedly so deeply.”
He said he hoped “it would help us make amends in the state’s role in the hurt of these extraordinary women.”