Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kenny to 'offer Magdalene apology'

Irish Independent
Feb. 19, 2013

Thousands of women who survived Catholic-run workhouses known as Magdalene laundries are expected to receive a state apology from the Government.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to make a statement two weeks after a report revealed 10,000 women were incarcerated in institutions run by nuns for a myriad of reasons from petty crime to poverty, disability or pregnancy outside marriage.

Twenty women who were locked up in one of the laundries will attend a parliamentary debate to witness first hand the anticipated apology.

Representative group Magdalene Survivors Together is also hoping to hear details of a compensation scheme.

Spokesman Steven O'Riordan said the women, most of whom feel too stigmatised to speak publicly, are optimistic Mr Kenny will also acknowledge women detained in other institutions similar to laundries but classed as training units.

"Magdalene Survivors Together are extremely confident that the Taoiseach will in some way extend the apology," Mr O'Riordan said.

The group has called for compensation in the form of a nominal payment of 50,000 euro for incarceration and an additional 20,000 euro for every year spent in detention to make up for lost wages.

The Government has not confirmed to the women or their representatives whether they will be compensated. But ministers have suggested a comprehensive package of measures would be produced to meet the women's needs on a case by case basis.

The apology follows the publication of a report from former senator Martin McAleese, which revealed that the state was responsible for 24% of all admissions to the laundries - where girls as young as 11 were forced to work unpaid.

The inquiry found that 10,000 women were incarcerated in the workhouses, run by nuns from four religious orders, for many reasons - from petty crime, fleeing the institutes, foster families no longer receiving state allowances and others who were orphaned, abused, mentally or physically disabled, homeless or poor. The last laundry closed in 1996, at Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin's north inner city.

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