Congregations welcome Magdalene report
The exterior of the now derelict Sisters of Our Lady of Charity Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott Street in Dublin's north inner city
The four congregations who operated the Magdalene laundries have welcomed today’s report and apologised to women who experienced hurt while in their care.
In a statement, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge said it was with “deep regret” that women did not experience refuge under their care.
"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," it said.
"Regardless of why a woman was in a refuge or how she came to be there, we endeavored 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 recognize 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 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."
The congregation appealed for time to reflect on the contents of the report.
The Religious Sisters of Charity apologised to any woman who experienced hurt while they were in their care.
“In good faith we provided refuge for women at our Magdalen Homes in Donnybrook and Peacock Lane. Some of the women spent a short time with us; some left, returned and left again and some still live with us,” they said in a statement this afternoon.
“We co-operated fully with Senator McAleese and his Committee in the preparation of this report and made available all of our archival material. Each individual woman, if she so requests, will be welcomed and provided with any information we have on file regarding her stay with us."
The Good Shepherd Sisters said they sincerely regretted that women experienced hurt and hardship during their time with them.
"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."
The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy said the report brought clarity, greater understanding and healing.
“We fully acknowledge and are saddened by the limitations of the care which could be provided in these [Magdalen] homes. Their 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. It is regrettable that the Magdalen 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.
"We would like to extend an invitation to anyone who may have spent some time in either Dún Laoghaire or Galway to come and meet with us, if they so wish."