'Significant' that survivor testimony not called into question
A leading academic and researcher on the Magdalene laundries said it was very significant that “nowhere does the report call into question” the testimony of survivors.
James M Smith, associate professor in the English department and Irish studies programme at Boston College, said the committee did “not once call into question any testimony, recollection or memory of any of the survivors; that is an important admission”.
It was “very significant because the State had the option of calling into question” what it had previously depicted as “allegations”, but chose not to do so.
Dr Smith, who is the author of a book on the subject as well as a member of the Justice for Magdalenes advisory committee, said he was disappointed, however, with the Government’s response.
He described its plea for time to consider the contents of the report as “disingenuous”. “Time is the one commodity the women cannot afford,” he said.
“In light of these findings, I would have hoped that, for the women at the centre of this campaign, there would have been an official State apology and that it would have come today.”
Dr Smith said it was ironic that sitting next to the Taoiseach in the Dáil yesterday was Minister for Justice Alan Shatter who, while in opposition in 2009, had cited “irrefutable evidence” of State collusion in the laundries. He had called for justice for the women who had suffered “barbaric” abuse.
“One has to ask what has changed now that Minister Shatter has the power to effect that justice,” said Mr Smith.