Magdalene nuns hit back at critics and defend their role
Two nuns who were involved in running Magdalene laundries have hit back at criticisms of the four congregations which operated the 10 such institutions in Ireland up to 1996.
In interviews to be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1’s The God Slot at 10 o’clock tonight “Sister B” said: “All of the shame of the era is being dumped on the religious orders.”
When asked whether an apology might be appropriate after the McAleese report on the laundries, “Sister A” responded, “apologise for what?”
Reporter Claire McCormack interviewed the nuns for America magazine and was allowed share it with The God Slot on condition that the nuns, their congregation and where they worked were not named. Their words are voiced by an actor.
“Sister B” claimed that religious congregations in Ireland have been “stigmatised by the media”. “Some people claim generational hurt but we are suffering the generational hurt as much as any of the residents out of this and it is unfair . . .
“The sins of society are being placed on us, the scapegoat, and we are being sent off into the desert because that’s the only way they can get rid of the stigma. It’s the media who are portraying us in this light.”
Asked whether an apology might be in order, “Sister A” responded: “Apologise for what. Apologise for providing a service? We provided a free service for the country. Okay, it may have been putting away an ugly part to society, which it was in a sense, but it was the family who chose to put them there,” she said.
“Some of the orders accused educated the country, nobody is blamed for that. Society at the time had a great need to help these women and we stepped in . . .
“There was a terrible need for a lot of those women because they were on the street, with no social welfare and starving. We provided shelters for them. It was the ‘no welfare’ state and we are looking with today’s eyes at a totally different era.”
Asked why the four congregations were not speaking out more, “Sister A” said: “Because we would be stoned! . . . Society is more inclined to believe the bad stories and people have forgotten the good we have done through all our years.”