THE Magdalen laundries existed because the state did not provide adequate care for its citizens.
From its foundation in 1922 - with the exception of 1997-2007 - this state was an economic basket case.
And even that one decade was a decade of economic illusion, as we now know.
There were no social welfare payments until 1953. Before that, if you lost your job, you couldn’t feed your family and that is why people ended up in workhouses, orphanages, industrial schools, and Magdalen laundries.
The job of the McAleese committee which produced the report on the Magdalen laundries was: “to clarify and detail the facts of any state interaction with the laundries”.
It concluded that self-referrals accounted for only 6.4 per cent of the 10,000 women admitted between 1922-1996, the time examined by the report.
The state was responsible for 26 per cent of admittances.
So where did the other 66 per cent, 6,000 women come from? If they came from poverty-stricken families then the state is to blame for their plight, because the state did not provide for those families in the first place.
Twenty-six per cent of these women were referred to the convents by the state: they came through the courts. But An Taoiseach should apologise also for all the others led down by the state.
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