Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been told to apologise to Magdalene laundry victims for a second time in just two years, after failing to live up to promises to women who were effectively forced into State “slavery”.
Opposition TDs insisted the step is needed during the second day of debate in the Dáil on what supports will be made available for women kept in the religious institutions without their consent.
Speaking during the second stage of the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill 2014, which outlines payments to those affected if they agree not to sue the State,and certain health services in some cases, politicians across the political divide criticised what is on offer.
They included Fianna Fáil mental health and special needs spokesperson Colm Keaveney, who insisted the failure to live up to expectations since Mr Kenny’s Dáil apology on February 19, 2013, means the Taoiseach must return to the chamber and beg Magdalene laundry survivors to forgive him.
“It took him 30 years to be man enough to apologise. The satisfaction these women had in receiving that apology is now turning to dust. It is incumbent on the Taoiseach to apologise again...” he said, adding the State and particularly the justice system “colluded” in what happened to these women.
Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger said there is a clear need to give the women, some of whom are suffering from lung cancer, what they deserve after taking their youth, and attacked the Government-backed McAleese report as a sub-standard investigation. The comments were echoed by Independent TDs Clare Daly, Catherine Murphy, and Maureen O’ Sullivan.
Reform Alliance leader Lucinda Creighton and Independent TD Peter Mathews said “we are all collectively responsible”.
The comments came as the Justice for Magdalene’s Research group said it is “still unclear” why the wording of the bill limits the number of services available to those affected through the HAA card — effectively an enhanced medical card that was previously provided to victims of the Hepatitis C scandal.
The redress bill passed without a vote and is now set to be debated by the justice committee next Wednesday.
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