Irish P.M. meets with Magdalene survivors

Feb. 16, 2013 at 12:22 PM
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DUBLIN, Ireland, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has been meeting with women who spent time in the Magdalene Laundries as the parliament prepares to discuss a recent report.

The report said that 10,000 women in Ireland were sent to the laundries after 1922, when the country became independent, and 1996 when the last laundry closed. The laundries, founded in the 18th century as the Magdalene Asylums, took in women referred by the courts, their parents and social service agencies, and the report by Martin McAleese, a former senator, said the government was involved in about 25 percent of the cases.

Kenny met Monday with representatives of Magdalene Survivors Together in Dublin, The Irish Times reported. On Saturday, he was in London for another meeting with survivors now living in Britain at the Irish Embassy.

Debate on the report is scheduled to begin Tuesday in the Dail. Magdalene Survivors Together said they expect the prime minister to issue an apology on behalf of the government for its role in the laundries.

The laundries were run by orders of nuns and were supposed to provide shelter and alternatives for prostitutes and other troubled women, although some women ended up there after aging out of orphanages. The residents were required to work long hours in often harsh conditions.

The McAleese report said that government contracts also helped keep the laundries going.

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