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Minister Flanagan addresses Dublin Honours Magdalenes event

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, addressed the Dublin Honours Magdalenes Gala dinner in the Mansion House.

Speaking at the event, the Minister said:

To say that I am privileged and humbled to be standing here tonight is an understatement. To be frank, it is also a difficult and daunting place for me to stand. It’s difficult, because I am only too aware that as a Government minister I represent the State which let each and every one of you down. This State allowed you be incarcerated, and made to work in Magdalene Laundries. We had a duty of care, we had a job of inspection, and we failed. Indeed we even took on the role, in some cases, of referring agent. And in so doing… we let you down.

Official Ireland took its time and the truth is that you had to wait far too long for acknowledgement, recognition and an official apology. I am proud that Enda Kenny was the Taoiseach who finally made that State apology and, following the Ombudsman’s report, I need to add my own... My Department worked hard to administer the redress scheme but we didn’t always get it right and I am sorry for that. I apologise to you. I have been working with the Ombudsman for some time and I am very glad that just last week, Cabinet agreed to admit the women who worked in laundries while living in an adjoining institution, into the scheme. I wish we had done it sooner, and I hope and indeed intend that the other issues highlighted by the Ombudsman will be sorted very soon. An experienced senior counsel is working hard on behalf of Government to resolve complex difficulties and I expect real progress soon.

The event was attended by more than 220 women who spent time in Magdalene Laundries. Bringing the women together to share their experiences and to have their say on how the laundries should be remembered were among the recommendations of Mr Justice Peter Quirke’s Restorative Justice Scheme.