Irish religious forced labour survivors meet

Survivor of the Magdalene laundries Gabrielle O'Gorman (right) is greeted by members of the public as she arrives at the Mansion House in Dublin to attend a Gala dinner for survivors and their supporters

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Ireland: Hundreds greet survivors of Magdalene Laundries scandal

Thousands of women between 1922 to 1996 were forced to do unpaid labour in Catholic-run workhouses

HUNDREDS of people welcomed survivors of the notorious Magdalene Laundries scandal to a reception in Dublin city centre yesterday, the first time the women had gathered in Ireland.

Irish President Michael D Higgins had apologised on Tuesday to the thousands of women forced to do unpaid labour in Catholic-run workhouses between 1922 and 1996 who he said had been “failed by the state.”

Unmarried mothers, women with learning disabilities and girls who had been abused were forced to enter the Magdalene laundries over seven decades.

An estimated 10,000 women and girls were forced to work in the 10 laundries. A 2013 report found the Irish state was directly involved in their incarceration.

Initially seen as short-term refuges for women, the workhouses soon became long-term institutions, inflicting a cruel punishment regime behind locked doors, with no wages and no option to leave.

Run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, the Religious Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the last Magdalene asylum closed in Waterford as recently as 1996.

Theresa Ryan described the gathering as “bitter-sweet”, telling the BBC that she had spent her childhood in the Good Shepherd workhouse in Limerick.

“I was three or four when they took me. They changed my name, they changed my birthday, my whole childhood was gone,” she said.

In 2013 then taoiseach Enda Kelly issued a formal apology to the women, establishing the Magdalene restorative justice system to bring the survivors together and make sure the scandal would not be forgotten.

UN to hear Magdalene Laundries case: here.

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