Coalition divided over apology
Maureen Sullivan, a member of Magdalene Survivors Together, who was placed in a laundry in New Ross at the age of 12, during a news conference by the group in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
The Government will seek a "clear strategy and a clear plan" as to how best to deal with the findings of the report into the Magdalene laundries, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.
The Government came under renewed criticism today following the refusal of Mr Kenny to issue a full apology to the women who spent time in the laundries, despite the fact that more than a quarter were sent there by the State.
Some Labour TDs say an apology is needed.
Minister of State for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch said it was her personal opinion that there should be an apology.
"The stigma that has attached to these women, the blight that has been on their lives... There's nothing to be proud of here," she said on TodayFM earlier today.
"You can say that everyone suffered in the 1950s yes. But some suffered more than others and I think these women had a particularly hard life.. that has to be acknowledged."
Labour Party TD Gerald Nash tweeted hat a "full, sincere" apology was needed. His Labour colleague Aodhán Ó Ríordáin tweeted that it was “clear that the state owes the Magdalene women an apology”.
"Quick progress on this issue is important," he said.
The 'Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries' was published yesterday by an interdepartmental committee chaired by Martin McAleese found the women were from many backgrounds.
Some were referred by courts, others released on licence from industrial schools before they reached 16 years of age, while some were young women over 16 years of age who had been orphaned or were in abusive or neglectful homes.
Responding to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil, Mr Kenny said he was "genuinely concerned about bringing reconciliation and closure to the women involved". The report exposed the truth and "in that regard the first and major issue of concern to the girls and women in the Magdalene laundries was the removal of the stigma".
He didn’t want to get into "adversarial diplomacy" on an issue as sensitive and evocative of bad memories for people.
The Taoiseach said the Government itself would reflect on the issue and he would "like the space to work with government by putting a process in place so that we can help these women reach closure".
Mr Kenny told the Fianna Fáil leader that his government "refused to actually investigate it then. This Government is dealing with it in the context of the McAleese report which sets out the truth here."