Fine Gael Meath West TD, Ray Butler, has today (Wednesday) said that justice is finally being delivered for the women of the Magdalene Laundries. Deputy Butler was speaking following the Taoiseach’s full State apology, which has been warmly welcomed by survivors of the Laundries.
“I was not only struck by the warmth of compassion in the Taoiseach’s speech, but more importantly by the highly emotionally and deeply positive response from the women whom he was addressing. There were levels of emotion in the visitor’s gallery that are rarely seen in Leinster House. The speech and the response were heartfelt. This was a moment these women have been waiting so long for; finally they have been believed, and the rejection they have felt for so long has been relieved.
“Successive governments refused to listen to the women who worked in the Magdalene Laundries. Indeed, for too long, society refused to acknowledge the wrong that had been done to these women. This Government was determined to take a different approach; that is why the Taoiseach appointed Martin Mc Aleese to examine the level of State involvement. For the first time, through the Mc Aleese report, we have a clearer picture of what took place in the Laundries.
“For many of the women, whose entire lives have been affected by their time in the Laundries, they simply wanted to be believed. They wanted their experiences to be recognised, rather than swept under the carpet. In delivering his unreserved apology on behalf of the Government and the State, the Taoiseach has given the women of the Laundries the respect and recognition they deserve.
“The Government has appointed retired High Court Judge and current President of the Law Reform Commission, Mr Justice Quirke, to examine how the Government can provide supports to the women. This will include things like medical cards, counselling services and other welfare needs. He will also address the issue of compensation. It is important that this is not a long, drawn-out process, and with that in mind, Justice Quirke has been asked to report back to the Government within three months.
“I was proud to be a member of Dáil Eireann as the Taoiseach read out his speech last Tuesday. The women of the Magdalene Laundries who have been ignored for so long, have finally been listened to. Their harrowing stories have been believed, and they will finally be compensated for the hurt they suffered. I hope they can live the rest of their lives knowing the shame heaped on their shoulders has been lifted. And I hope the Government can offer them support and assistance to make the future a little easier.”