Fianna Fáil defends motion on Magdalene Laundries, saying it was 'useful'

Wednesday 13 February 2013 12.38
Dara Calleary said the Fianna Fáil motion was useful in that it allowed many deputies to read the testimonies of survivors into the Dáil record
Dara Calleary said the Fianna Fáil motion was useful in that it allowed many deputies to read the testimonies of survivors into the Dáil record

Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary has defended his party's Dáil motion that calls for an apology to Magdalene survivors and the setting up of a special redress unit for the women.

Mr Calleary denied the private members' motion was hypocritical or a piece of political opportunism.

He said the party decided to place the motion after the Taoiseach's reaction to the McAleese report into State involvement in the Magdalene laundries, which he described as "very poor".

The party consulted the Justice for Magdalenes group about the motion.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Calleary said that the speech by Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, in which she accused Fianna Fáil of hypocrisy, was the only partisan one in the Dáil.

He said the motion was useful in that it allowed many TDs to read the testimonies of survivors into the Dáil record.

Mr Calleary said he had acknowledged in the Dáil that the Government had put an inter-departmental committee together and had commissioned the McAleese report.

"Our focus is on these women, to get justice for them, because they don't have time. They are old, and in many cases, in a physical state of weakness because of what they went through," he said.

"What we want to do is to get the apology, which the Government says is going to happen next week, and start quickly then to provide the services and the redress that is necessary."

He said the Taoiseach had responded very quickly in the past to the Ryan and Cloyne reports, and did not "come cold" to the McAleese report because chapters were given in advance.

Mr Calleary said the Government should have been better prepared, given the sensitivity of the issue.

If the Taoiseach had come into the Dáil last Tuesday and said he needed 24 hours to read the report, it would have been "far better”.

Mr Calleary called for healthcare provision for the women and for pensions for them because they worked without pay and had no insurance payments.

They were entitled to some form of recompense, he said.