Varadkar signals Magdalene apology
Steven O'Riordan, head of Magdalene Survivors Together, with Magdalene survivors Marina Gambold (centre) and Maureen Sullivan (right) speak to the media outside Leinster House on Monday afternoon. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien/The Irish Times
The Government will apologise to the former residents of Magdalene laundries over the State’s involvement with the institutions, a senior minister has indicated.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said he thought “an apology will be forthcoming from the State because of the State’s role in those institutions.”
He said Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s decision not to offer an immediate apology on last week’s publication of the McAleese report was correct. “I think the Taoiseach was right to digest the report to consider it and to meet some of the survivors before making that formal apology,” he told RTÉ News.
Members of the Magdalene Survivors Together group spent three hours with Mr Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore yesterday afternoon. The group believes an apology will be delivered next Tuesday when the Dáil begins a debate on former Senator Martin McAleese’s report on the Magdalene laundries.
Today Mr Kenny said: “The complexities and sensitivities range over a great deal of emotions and trauma, and that’s what we have to try to reflect in the Dáil debate…
“And that the state, in attempting in the best way we can, to bring a conclusion and some degree of fairness and sensitivity to what happened here.
That’s what I hope we can address.”
The comments prompted Maureen Sullivan of the survivors group to call for a “proper apology.” Labour backbench TDs, who regarded the delivery of a formal apology as a core issue for the party, were also reportedly critical of the response.
This evening the Dáil will debate a Fianna Fáil motion calling on the Taoiseach to offer an apology to the women of the Magdalene laundries “on behalf of the Oireachtas and all citizens of the State, for what they had to endure.
The motion also proposes the establishment of a dedicated unit within the Department of Justice and Equality to co-ordinate remaining aspects of the State’s response including all forms of redress which should be provided.
Earlier Mr Varadkar said it remains to be seen what consequences the apology would have in terms of redress. “The nature of that apology and what flows from it still needs to be worked out,” he said.
Additional reporting: PA