BY Ian Dunn | February 5 2013 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Ireland’s PM apologies for the Magdalen laundries

Report released today confirms state’s role in sending women to the Church-run workhouses between 1922 and 1996 for petty offences

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has apologised to thousands of women sent to workhouses run by Church organisations where they were subjected to a regime of intense hard work.

The Magdalen laundries started in the late 1700s as places to rehabilitate women, through work and prayer, who were deemed to need it.

A committee, led by Martin McAleese, the husband of former Irish president Mary McAleese, was set up 18 months ago to investigate exactly what role the Irish state played in the institutions between 1922 and 1996.

It found that more than 2100 women, more than a quarter of those who were held in the Magdalen laundries for whom records survived, were sent directly by the state, against their will.

Women were forced into laundries for crimes as minor as not paying for a train ticket, the report found. The majority of those incarcerated were there for minor offences such as theft and vagrancy.

The Irish government had always previously denied direct involvement in the system, which was run by four religious congregations: Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, The Good Shepherds, The Sisters of Mercy and the Religious Sisters of Charity.

As the report was published, the Irish Prime Minister (above) said: “To those resident who went into the Magdalen laundries from a variety of ways, 26 per cent from state involvement, I am sorry for those people that they lived in that kind of environment.”

He added that action should have been taken before to clear the names and reputations of the women put to work in the laundries.

“That the stigma, that the branding together of the residents, all 10,000, needs to be removed and should have been removed long before this and I’m really sorry that that never happened,” he said. “I regret that never happened.”


—Full Irish report on Magdalen laundries, click here.



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