PUBLIC demonstrations in support of Magdalene survivors will be held on the streets of Dublin unless Taoiseach Enda Kenny steps up and makes a full and proper apology.
Claire McGettrick, of the Justice For Magdalenes group, today warned that the fight for justice for the women who lived in slave-like conditions in institutions run by nuns is far from over.
The comments come following the publication yesterday of an 18-month inquiry headed by outgoing Senator Martin McAleese.
So far there has been no official apology from the State or any commitment to provide a a redress scheme for the survivors.
"During the next two weeks we are going to ask for the people of Ireland to get behind the women and to show politicians that mealy mouthed words are unacceptable," Ms McGettrick said. "We are not going anywhere until these women have got justice. There's going to be a campaign of public pressure," she told the Herald.
Public demonstrations and rallies are not being ruled out by the group that supports survivors in order to keep their fight for justice alive, according to Ms McGettrick. "We are going to regroup and talk about these kinds of things," she said.
She said Taoiseach Enda Kenny's lack of an apology on behalf of the State has damaged the women's morale. She added that the group intends to go through in detail the 1,000-page report by former Senator Martin McAleese, which has thrown new light on the operation of the 10 Magdalene Laundries operating in the State between 1922 and 1996.
But Ms McGettrick said: "The number one priority is to achieve an apology for these women."
She pointed out that time is running out for many of the women who had been "incarcerated" in a Magdalene Laundry as they are elderly and unwell.
"Some of these women don't have much time. What worries me is their welfare," she said.
Calling for financial redress for the survivors, she added: "A lot of the women are living in circumstances of poverty. Some of them can't even afford to pay for central heating."
She recalled that, following a meeting with Senator McAleese last November, one of the survivors was given money by another as she didn't even have enough change to put in her ESB meter to heat her home.
"They are going to have to be looked after (by the State). They worked for no pay and were incarcerated against their will. The majority of them are now in difficult circumstances," Ms McGettrick said.
The group welcomed Mr McAleese's central finding the State was "directly and fundamentally involved in the Magdalene Laundry Institutions".
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