O'Keeffe 'regrets' Magdalen comment

 

Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe has apologised for using the word employees” to describe women who had been resident in Magdalen laundries throughout Ireland up to the mid-1990s.

In a letter to Dublin South TD Tom Kitt, he expressed deep regret for "any offence caused by my use of the term 'employees' when referring to these women."

He said: “I fully acknowledge that the word 'workers' would have been more appropriate."

In a letter earlier this month to Mr Kitt - who had made representations concerning former residents of the laundries - the Minister made the point that “in terms of establishing a distinct scheme for former employees of the Magdalen laundries, the situation in relation to children who were taken into the laundries privately or who entered the laundries as adults is quite different to persons who were resident in State-run institutions.”

In the same letter the Minister said former residents of the laundries were not eligible for compensation from the Residential Institutions Redress Board.

"The Magdalen laundries were privately-owned and operated establishments which did not come within the responsibility of the State. The State did not refer individuals to the Magdalen laundries nor was it complicit in referring individuals to them,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

He pointed out that the laundries were not subject to State regulation or supervision and so had not been listed in the schedule to the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002.