O’Brien calls for immediate Magdalene survivors apology
Sinn Féin Cork North Central TD Jonathan O’Brien has called for the Government to apologise to the survivors of Magdalene laundries as soon as possible. “Every day counts for these women, many who are elderly,” he told the Cork Independent.
The final report of the committee investigating the treatment of women in Magdalene laundries will be published before the end of the year at the latest, according to Minister of State for Justice Kathleen Lynch. Only after the publication of the report will a Government apology be possible, according to Ms Lynch.
The Labour TD said, “it would be improper to conclude (the report) without examining additional information” that committee chairman Senator Martin McAleese was still identifying.
Last night a Sinn Féin private members' motion calling for an apology, pensions and a helpline for survivors of the Magdalene laundries, that was endorsed by victim’s advocacy group Justice for Magdalenes (JFM), was subject of a vote in Dáil Éireann.
Deputy O’Brien said that it was important that the Government apologise to allow survivors to draw pensions. He described the situation as a “horrible stain” on the history of the state.
“In my opinion this Government report is nothing less than a stalling tactic. The report can only say what is already in the public domain."
The Sinn Féin education spokesperson said: “There was a lot done in the state’s knowledge. Through their inaction, the state is probably complicit in the abuse.
“So many governments have failed to address the issue,” he said, adding that at least this Government initiated the inter-departmental committee’s final report three weeks after they came into government.
During the Dáil debate on Tuesday, Ms Lynch said: “The only reasonable course of action now is to await that report. We will be better informed, the report will be published and we will have a much clearer understanding of the facts involved.”
However Mr O’Brien said: “If you want to wait for report to establish redress and compensation, it still doesn’t excuse that the state hasn’t made an apology. It is simply unacceptable by any moral or ethical standard that the women concerned are still being denied any official acknowledgement of their suffering.”
Asked if he thought the Government was stalling to avoid paying money to survivors, Mr O’Brien said he didn’t know.
“What price do put on justice? A lot of these women would value an apology more than monetary compensation. They can’t get their innocence or their time back. Somebody needs to stand up and take responsibility.”
He called on Ms Lynch to get the Government to do everything in its power to end the outrage as she had urged the previous government.
Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer spoke in the Dáil: “Given that the last of the Magdalene laundries closed in 1996, we should realise that we are not just talking about a historic legacy. We are dealing with something that is a recent memory and a recent scar, unfortunately, for the many women who endured appalling treatment in these institutions.”
Cork Couth West TD Michael McCarthy described it as “our own holocaust”.