Coalition divided over apology
Mr Martin, who chaired the committee dealing with industrial school abuse, told the Dáil he was "sorry we didn’t deal with the Magdalene laundries at the time".
He said the committee led to a State apology to survivors of industrial schools. And he told Mr Kenny that the 1,400 page report published yesterday on the Magdalene laundries "doesn’t take any stigma away".
"The only effective way for the stigma to be removed by the State is to apologise with no ifs and no buts," he said.
Responding to questions from Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald, Mr Kenny said some of the information contained in the report had not previously been available. It was the "duty and responsibility of the Government to examine it and reflect on it and decide what is the best thing to do from here", he said.
“I am sorry that so many women worked and were resident in Magdalene laundries in a very harsh and authoritarian environment," Mr Kenny said in response to criticism from Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald. Ms McDonald told the Taoiseach that yesterday had been the time for the Government to apologise and to tell the women: "You were wronged."
Mr Kenny said he did believe the stories of the women and that the report was the truth about what had happened to them and about their lives and their experiences.
He believed the Government had a responsibility to act to "bring closure" to the women and he acknowledged that many of them were elderly and not in robust health.
The Taoiseach said it was a case of having "a clear strategy and a clear plan as to how best to deal with it and that is what the Government will do". There would be a further opportunity to discuss the report in two weeks, Mr Kenny added.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said today the report was a "watershed" that had cast light on areas that had been in the shadows. However, he declined to comment when asked on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland whether it was wrong for the State to be involved with the laundries.
“I don’t want to use that type of language,” Mr Shatter responded when asked if it was “wrong for the State to collude with the enslavement of women and children?”
He also criticised opposition TDs who called for an apology yesterday before reading the report in full.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said he thought the Government would be "compassionate" in its response.
The facts had been "long and late" coming but the Government had set up the inquiry within a few months of coming into office. He said Dr McAleese had been the right person to conduct the inquiry.