Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013: Second Stage (Resumed) [Private Members]
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
I welcome and applaud the women in the Visitors Gallery. I am pleased to have become friends with a number of them. Last night, I was struck by Theresa on “The Late Debate” and the way she could tell her story with such clear recollection after all this time. Not only does it illustrate the severity of what happened, but also her magnanimity and compassion as a woman.
I had the pleasure of working with a lady in Cork University Hospital who became a good friend of mine. I will call her by her first name – Margaret. She is one of the most honest, decent and loving women with whom I have worked. She was present last night, although I am unsure as to whether she is present tonight.
With Deputy Ó Caoláin and others, I became involved in the cross-party committee on this issue because of the wrongs done to these women. I agree with a clear statement made by Deputy Boyd Barrett to the effect that he hopes that this pernicious influence in Irish society will be eradicated forever. I hope that all Deputies listen to what he said, as that influence will remain if we allow it. It must not be allowed to continue.
This is a question of women who were not only mistreated by the State, but also by the hierarchy of the political and medical classes and by the church. This can never be forgotten. I will not make a political speech. In the cross-party group’s meetings, we never divided politically or became rancorous. Our motivation was the women concerned, some of whom are in the Visitors Gallery, and remains so to this day. They are the primary focus of what we are trying to do. Thankfully, the Government has committed to bringing this issue to a conclusion by the end of the year and to ensuring the women receive justice. Some opposite might shake their heads. I hope that Deputy Joan Collins is wrong in her cynicism. I want this issue to be addressed, for which reason I am speaking tonight and we have invested time to ensure it is done.
This issue is too serious to be used as a political football. We can argue about a Bill’s flaws and demerits until the cows come home. I am not a legal expert, but I want the State to do justice by the women concerned, both here in the Visitors Gallery and elsewhere, for the wrong done to them. End of argument – there can be no obfuscation. Not only do these women deserve justice, but also our thanks for the way in which they have shown compassion in telling their stories and highlighting the grievous wrong done to them.