Fianna Fáil leader welcomes apology and Kenny's meeting with women

Wed, Feb 20, 2013, 00:00

Political reactionFianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he welcomed the apology and the efforts the Taoiseach had made in the past week to meet directly with women who spent time in Magdalene launderies.

The most important part of making the apology was to understand it was not the end of dealing with the issue. In many ways, it was only the beginning, he said.

The State has now acknowledged its role, he said. It has yet to provide a forum where the testimonies of the women can be gathered and their experiences fully understood.

Mr Martin said his party acknowledged fully the failures of all who participated in public life and did not act to intervene.

There should have been earlier consideration given to this issue and there is no doubt that the women of the Magdalene laundries deserved earlier intervention, he added.

“I am sorry that did not happen. I also accept that steps should have been taken earlier to make this apology”.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said what happened to the women was slavery and as the Taoiseach stated “the State failed to challenge or end it or provide for its victims. On the contrary, as we now know the State employed the system for decades,” he said.


He was disappointed however that the Government’s strictly limited terms of reference mean some of the Magdalene laundries and the stories of some of the women are not included in the report. “According to Amnesty International today, this also includes previously unknown laundries in the North. Neither does the report cover the scandalous and equally harsh conditions in Bethany Home.”

He said these significant gaps must be addressed if a comprehensive and effective resolution of the treatment of girls and women by the State in institutions is to be achieved.

Independent TD Maureen OSullivan suggested one of the laundries should be preserved as a memorial to the victims. She also highlighted the importance of getting rid of the discussion of the women and girls as “penitents and sinners” and the need to support the names project and the archival work done on the laundries.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the Taoiseach had rightly apologised but that apology must now have meaning and substance. “It appears as though there is not much to consider in this regard. The women have led where we have failed.”

He said they had indicated their need for redress and compensation and “we should simply give it to them in order that they no longer are obliged to wait and suffer in the way they have for far too long. If apologies are to have meaning, we must act immediately”.


Independent TD Mick Wallace said full credit should go to the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste for their apologies and excellent speeches. “It is important to perceive this as a start and that there is no let-up in the effort to bring justice to these women. The announcement made today should not be portrayed as a grand benevolent gesture on the part of the Irish State. This is disgracefully overdue and it is about giving these women what they are owed”.