Magdalene survivors to press for apology

Sat, Feb 9, 2013, 00:00

Survivors of the Magdalene laundries will continue to press the Taoiseach for an apology.

Yesterday the Taoiseach’s office contacted members of the Magdalene Survivors Together group, accepting an invitation to a meeting received from the group on Tuesday. The date of the meeting has not been confirmed.

The group will be represented by four survivors including Maureen O’Sullivan and Marina Gumbold and two other women who wish to remain anonymous, spokesman Steven O’Riordan said.

The Taoiseach also invited survivors from the London-based Irish Women’s Survivors’ Network to attend. However, spokeswoman Phyllis Morgan said it was too short notice.

“They are so fragile and so vulnerable, I can’t just throw that on them on a Friday afternoon to be flying into Dublin on Monday,” she said.

Ms Morgan said Mr Kenny had instead offered to meet four of the survivors along with advocate Hackney councillor Sally Mulready when in London at the end of the month.

“These ladies are from 65 to 83 and they are in very bad health and I want a full and sincere apology as well. Hopefully we’ll get it, I’m very confident he’ll do the decent thing.”

Mr O’Riordan said next week’s meeting was to enable the Taoiseach to better know the women’s stories so he could “offer an unreserved apology on behalf of the State”.

Justice for Magdalenes’ spokeswoman Katherine O’Donnell said what the women needed was not “sentimental empathy” but “an apology that admits wrong”.

She called for a dedicated Department of Justice unit to provide for “health and housing needs, pensions loss, wages and a non-adversarial, speedy, compensation scheme”.

EU commissioner for human rights Nils Muižnieks has called, on Twitter, for Ireland to make a State apology.