Survivors of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries have expressed their relief and gratitude over the Irish leader’s official state apology on Tuesday.
It has been two weeks since the release of the MacAleese report which outlined the State’s part in the horrors of the Magdalene Laundries and Enda Kenny has finally apologised for the Irish State.
His apology was greeted with much relief by Magdalene survivors, who feel that they can move on with their lives now and even praised the Taoiseach for his emotional speech where he stated: “The Magdalene women might have been told that they were washing away a wrong, or a sin, but we know now — and to our shame — they were only ever scrubbing away our nation’s shadow.”
The response to Enda Kenny’s speech was one of overwhelming relief and sadness - “I’ve never heard anything like it. Everybody in Ireland should be proud of our Taoiseach.” Marina Gambold told the Irish Times.
“He’s a wonderful man. I knew that he would do it. I’m happy now,” she said.
Candles were lit in a vigil outside the gates of the Irish Parliament while the Taoiseach spoke about the compensation packages that have now been made available to the 800 women still alive who were residents of the Magdalene Laundries which will include counselling and health care services also.
The Irish Examiner reports of Kenny’s reference to a line from the song ‘Whispering Hope’ that had been sung to him by a Magdalene survivor. He used this line to profess his hope for the future saying: “A line from that song stays in my mind — ‘when the dark midnight is over, watch for the breaking of day’. Let me hope that this day and this debate heralds a new dawn for all those who feared that the dark midnight might never end.”
Speaking to RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, the Justice for the Magdalenes welcomed the apology and said that it “looks forward to the intent of the apology being made evident by the introduction of a system of redress that is prompt, open, fair, and transparent.”
The Taoiseach’s apology was hailed by all as a moving and heartfelt speech which will hopefully issue a new lease of life and healing for those who have survived the Magdalenes.