Irish leaders to meet with representatives of Magdalene laundry survivors
But many women claim they cannot meet as they cannot be publicly identified
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said yesterday that they will meet representatives of the Magdalene survivors networks next week.
However, according to RTE a Magdalene support group has said the women they represent who worked in the laundries will be unable to meet with the Irish leaders because they cannot be publicly identified.
Responding to public criticism that the two leaders have not responded appropriately to the publication of a report that found the Irish state had colluded with the institutions to place women there, Gilmore reportedly said they two leaders are now planning to hold a 'direct discussion' with the women about what their needs are and about how the Irish government should respond to the recently published report into State involvement in the Magdalene Laundries.
But spokesperson Doctor Katherine O'Donnell of the Justice for Magdalenes campaign said many of the woman still operated under a 'level of stigma, silence and shame' about what happened to them, especially in the absence of what she called a Government apology.
She added that the generosity and kindness of Kenny and Gilmore was not in doubt but what was needed was a clear apology that acknowledged the woman had been wronged and that the Irish state had failed them.
O'Donnell wondered whether Kenny took any formal or informal legal advice before he responded to Martin McAleese's report on the clear involvement of the Irish state in the Magdalen story, before he addressed the parliament.
Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Gilmore said: 'These women have suffered. What they endured was wrong, what happened in this country over those decades was appalling and this Government has heard these women.'
Gilmore added that he would go back to his Cabinet colleagues after the meeting and they would decide on the response.
'We are going to do the right thing,' he said, adding that someone from his department would be in touch with the women today.
Asked why no apology was forthcoming in the Irish parliament, Gilmore said the government took the decision to publish the report immediately and the time needed to consider an appropriate response was not there.
Gilmore said Prime Minister Kenny had already said 'sorry' and added that they would communicate that directly to the women at the proposed meeting.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe has called on the Irish government to issue a State apology to the victims of the Magdalene laundry regime.
Nils Muiznieks issued a statement on Twitter saying: 'Women victims of forced labor in Magdalene laundries in Ireland and their descendants deserve State apologies and restorative measures.'
The issue of the Magdalene institutions was raised by the Council of Europe in its 2011 report on human rights in Ireland. The last Magdalene institution closed in 1996.
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