The Catholic Church needs to repent for brutalizing Irish society
Emer O'Kelly: Irish society must ensure State delivers compensation to survivors
The social structure that allowed for forced labor and misery in Magdalene Laundries to occur is part of the Irish psyche, according to Sunday's Irish Independent Op Ed.
Writing for the newspaper, journalist Emer O’Kelly states that the Irish society should feel guilty for perpetuating a system that allowed for women to be sent to Magdalene Laundries.
“The stigma is ours, and ours alone, to be shared by all of us except the women victimized and brutalized by Irish society as a whole. That the women could have perceived themselves as bearing a stigma for their incarceration reflects on us, not on them,” O’Kelly states.
“The catalogue of miseries Ireland has inflicted on the helpless and hopeless over the generations since independence is as long as it is sickening. With each new revelation, each parading of repressed grief and hurt, each dreadful witness to our inhumanity, we have squirmed and exempted ourselves from blame.”
Last Tuesday Irish leader Enda Kenny apologized to an estimated 10,000 women who were forced into unpaid labor from 1922 to 1996.
Delivering an official apology in the Irish parliament, he told the women and their families, “This is a national shame for which I say again I am deeply sorry and offer my full and heartfelt apologies.”
According to O’Reilly, one of the short fallings of the Senator Martin McAleese’ 1,000 page report was to suggest women were self-referred to the laundries.
“Was a destitute woman thrown on the street by her parents "willing" when her choice was between selling herself or a hell-hole of slave labour?
“Was a motherless child "willing" when a Catholic priest took her from the care of her widowed father because to have her free in society left her open to "moral hazard"?
“If every woman still alive who was ever locked in one of those dark, fearful places was a prostitute; if every woman there had given birth to children "out of wedlock", there should still be no "stigma". They were human, that's all: human like the rest of us. And they were ignorant of the world and its ways, the ignorance as enforced as was their incarceration.”
O’Reilly describes Irish society in the past as a closed society: “an engineered regimentation of the population that described ignorance as innocence, and equated deprivation with purity and nobility of soul: the essence of fascism.”
The column described a joyless Ireland during the Magdalene years when the Church had a stronghold over the country and highlights the terrible conditions they were forced to work under.
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