Sinn Féin councillor Thérèse Ruane has given a broad welcome to the proposed interdepartmental group which will inquire into the State involvement in the running of Magdalene Laundries. However Cllr Ruane is disappointed that the State falls short of the recommendations of the UN Committee against Torture. She is calling for an immediate formal State apology.
“Tens of thousands of women and girls were placed in Magdalene laundries across the State,” Cllr Ruane said. “Many of these women were effectively incarcerated, held against their will, and suffered untold abuse and harm over the course of many years. The remaining survivors are an ageing group and deserve an immediate formal State apology as a matter of urgency,” Cllr Ruane said.
She continued: “There is ample evidence which shows the State's complicity in this. They cannot duck its responsibility any further by saying these were privately owned. Just last week, the UN Committee against Torture heard that the courts regularly sent women and girls to the laundries as an alternative to jail and others were transferred into them from industrial schools, which were the absolute responsibility of the State. The gardaí were also responsible for capturing and returning women to these institutions, if they managed to escape.
“The absolute priority here must be an apology, from the State and from the religious orders who ran the institution,” she added. “An apology costs nothing but is worth so much. Time is of the essence. There is no reason that this could not happen immediately.”