Magdalene laundries women: Now the truth has come out

From left: Marina Gambold, Mary McManus and Maureen Sullivan outside Leinster House after Enda Kenny's formal apology this evening. Picture: Photocall

The women of the Magdalene laundries have been giving their reaction to this evening's formal apology from the Taoiseach for State involvemet in the laundries.

"I'm so happy. His apology was superb," said one. "For the first time I can stand up and say: 'I'm proud to be Irish'."

Another said: "He's a great man. To see a Taoiseach getting emotional - it was brilliant."

Another of the women, also speaking outside the Dáil this evening said: "Now the truth has come out, and he has listened. I hope the whole country, the whole world will know that these Magdalene laundries should never have existed, never, ever."

Maureen Sullivan, who was 12 when she was sent to a Magdalene laundry when her father died, said Mr Kenny had given survivors their lives back.

“He didn’t hold back on anything,” Ms Sullivan said. “He really did us proud. Now we can go on with our lives and we know that we’ve got an apology, and he’s taken responsibility. It’s just fantastic.”

The state apology follows the publication of a report from former senator Martin McAleese, which revealed that the state was responsible for 24% of all admissions to the laundries – where girls as young as 11 worked, unpaid.

The inquiry found that 10,000 women were incarcerated in the workhouses, run by nuns from four religious orders, for a myriad of reasons from petty crime to poverty, disability or pregnancy outside marriage.

The last laundry closed in 1996, at Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin’s north inner city.

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