Magdalene Victims


CORK East FG T.D. Tom Barry said this week that the religious institutions who engaged women in “what amounted to slave labour” in Magdalene Laundries should be forced to sell off assets to provide compensation for these women.


“I recall visiting one of these laundries as a boarding school student in Waterford in 1984, to look for something in ‘lost and found’, and I remember that it was very quiet in there. I remember wondering why nobody was talking. It was only later in my life that the realisation of what was happening in there hit me forcefully. This was going on while we were living what we regarded as a modern life in modern Ireland. I really don’t understand why this was done to these women, other than some desire to keep the gloss of respectability on society; it was cruel and it was just wrong.”


“We can never make this better; we can never take away what happened. But these women absolutely deserve to be paid compensation and they should be paid out of Church funds – out of the funds of the religious organisations who profited from what amounted to slave labour. What’s done is done and it cannot be undone, but I would like to make sure that these women are apologised to and paid compensation. The State also needs to accept its role in this because, while the orders and, sadly, families, colluded to remove from these women their dignity and liberty, the State, too, through the courts, directed some women to these institutions.”


Deputy Barry has raised the issue with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter.