‘Women were shamed, beaten and ostracised’

By Maurice Garvey

SURVIVORS of Mother and Baby homes and the Magdalene Laundries were invited to South Dublin County Council to meet Mayor Sarah Holland.

The meeting was arranged by independent councillor Francis Timmons – a survivor of the Irish care system.

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Cllr Timmons had a motion passed in October, calling for all survivors to be included in a redress scheme and receive “justice and truth.”

It was a rare occasion when a councillor had the complete attention of every single participant in the chamber – a visibly emotional Timmons recounted his experience and the affect it had on his life.

The motion was seconded by Cllr Paul Gogarty, another survivor of the Irish care system – and supported by fellow members.

Mayor Holland said: “Women and children who went through this barbaric system always had my full support, but nothing can prepare you for the haunting stories face to face.

“Forced sterilisations, children being trafficked out of the country, women shamed, beaten and ostracised, and all for the beautiful gift of being able to create life.

“This was institutionalised misogyny – funded by taxpayers’ money and facilitated by Church and State.”

The last Magdalene Laundry closed in 1996, and a public investigation started following the discovery of the remains of over 800 dead babies at Tuam.

Survivors say the inquiry cannot be fully functional until the terms of reference are broadened to include all victims.

Parkwest resident Terri Harrison was placed in a Magdalene Laundry before having her son taken from her.

Terri said: “Women were imprisoned – shamed and isolated. We went through hell, and now some of our oldest survivors are being excluded from the hearing because of access issues.

“There is no counsellor or emotional support in place for the women to face a panel of strangers and tell their horrific stories – effectively being re-traumatised.”

Clondalkin survivor David Kinsella, said: “I want the Catholic Church to come forward, like they have done in Scotland already, and give a full apology.

“I want them to announce from the pulpits that women, like my mother, did nothing wrong and to encourage women to come forward.

“I also want an interim redress scheme put in place – many survivors are passing away. We won’t stop until we get an acknowledgement of this hurt.”


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