Thursday, 27 June 2013
Topical Issue Debate
Magdalen Laundries Issues
I thank Deputy Maloney for his careful and considered contribution. I want to be fair to the religious congregations. They did make all the records they had available to Martin McAleese for his excellent report. The depth of that report could not have been achieved without their co-operation and assistance. They also met with and discussed issues relating to the women in the laundries with Mr. Justice Quirke. I know he felt that meeting was of help. I am also conscious of the congregations providing care for in excess of 100 women who were in the laundries. It is fair we acknowledge that.
The scheme announced yesterday requires the congregations’ assistance and co-operation in verifying records. I very much welcome their co-operation in that regard as well. However, I make no secret of the fact that when I, along with the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, met with the congregations last Tuesday week, we brought a message that we, along with the general public, expected the congregations to contribute to the fund that is necessary. We knew the women themselves saw that as an important element of the restorative justice process. We also made it clear that the Cabinet asked us about this issue when we brought the Quirke report before it.
I very much hope the congregations do see fit to make a contribution. PricewaterhouseCoopers voluntarily reviewed the books of five of the Magdalen laundries for the McAleese report and found there was no real financial profit made by them. There is no doubt that the women resident in laundries were impacted by their experience, many of them for the rest of their lives. The women do not see themselves as victims. Many of them have got on with their lives with great courage, commitment and have campaigned with great resolution for justice. I hope the majority of them feel we have shown respect for their concerns, that we have addressed them in a reasonable way and that the restorative justice schemes being put in place will be of help to them. I believe the Government is bringing closure to this matter as best it can. However, for the religious congregations to bring closure, it is important they are seen to contribute financially to the provisions being implemented.