Wednesday 13 February 2013
The report and debate are not about politics but about the women who deserve not just our sympathy, apologies and sorrow but our support. I remind Deputy Niall Collins and other Fianna Fáil Deputies reading the report that the House is united in its response to the suffering of these women. The House is united in its desire to build an Ireland which is kinder, gentler, more tolerant and more accepting. We will learn as a society from the mistakes we made. Deputy Séan Kenny was eloquent and right when he said it was an indictment of our society.
I was struck by a quote in the report from one of the women who gave testimony:
[There was] never any communication to tell me the reason for anything… No one ever spoke why I was there. In our heads all we could think of is we are going to die here. That was an awful thing to carry.
A second quote that struck me was:
there was never a reason given for anything, we never thought we’d see the outside of the world again… While you were in Ireland they knew exactly what you were doing. You had to leave Ireland to escape them.
We should never have been here to debate this report, the Cloyne report or the Murphy report, but we are. Government has an obligation not just to act but to reflect. That is what Government asked for and that is what Government will do. I commend the Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch, and the Minister, Deputy Alan Shatter, for their campaigning to assist the women concerned, for commissioning the report and for publishing it unvarnished and without spin. I record my appreciation for former-Senator Martin McAleese.
I regret very much the motion that is before the House. It is nothing but a cheap, political shot. It ill-becomes the Members opposite to put it down. I know the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, as a person and a Government Leader. He is a decent, compassionate, caring and loving man. He and his Government will do the right thing. They always have, unlike Fianna Fáil which put the party first and country second. That is why we will do things differently. The House will debate the report in a few weeks. It is important that it does. I received an email from a friend living in the United States of America who read in Time magazine “The Magdalen Laundries: Irish Report Exposes a National Shame”. He asked me if we Irish were ever going to stop. I hope the report represents a watershed moment and that we will learn from the past and act.