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Taoiseach Enda Kenny lays laurel wreath in N Ireland

Ireland's Taoiseach Enda Kenny has laid a laurel wreath on Remembrance Sunday in Northern Ireland at the memorial in Enniskillen, where the IRA killed 11 people in a Poppy Day bomb in 1987.

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny (left) and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers at the war memorial in Enniskillen. Credit: Kelvin Boyes/PA Wire

The victims in the no-warning attack were all Protestant, including three married couples, a reserve police officer and several pensioners.

N Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers (left), Executive Minister Arlene Foster (second left) and Taoiseach Enda Kenny (right). Credit: Kelvin Boyes/PA Wire

Mr Kenny made history in Enniskillen last year by becoming the first Irish premier to attend a Remembrance Day service in Northern Ireland.

Irish Govt apologise to thousands locked up in laundries

The Irish government today apologised to the thousands of women who were locked up in Magdalene laundries - church workhouses for unmarried mothers.

Over 10,000 women were forced to work for nothing in the laundries that ran from 1922 to 1996.

Martha Fairlie reports:


Inquiry's findings into everyday life in a laundry

The inquiry found the following about everyday life in a laundry:

  • It reported, a harsh and physically demanding environment with a cold atmosphere and a rigid uncompromising work and prayer regime.
  • Both verbal and psychological abuse was common.
  • It was rare for a woman to have her head shaved as punishment but they had their hair cut back short in a bob.

More than 100 women were spoken to by the inquiry committee, more than half of whom are in nursing homes.

Justice Minister: Survivors deserve 'best support'

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he regretted that the laundries were not investigated until 2011.

I am sorry that the state did not do more and the Government recognises that the women alive today who are still affected by their time in the laundries deserve the best supports that the state can provide.

– Alan Shatter, Justice Minister

Majority sent to Magdalene laundries for minor offences

The majority of women forced into Magdalene laundries were there for minor offences such as theft and not paying for a train ticket.

A small number of women were there for prostitution - despite the stigma attached to those who were sent to the laundries and became known as Maggies, a slang term for prostitute.

The report also confirmed that a garda could arrest a girl or a woman without warrant if she was being recalled to the laundry or if she had run away.


In numbers: The Magdalene laundries scandal

The inquiry into Magdalene laundries found the following statistics:

  • Around 50% of the girls and women put to work were under the age of 23.
  • 40% - more than 4,000 - spent more than a year incarcerated.
  • Some 15% spent more than five years while the average stay has been calculated at seven months.
  • The youngest death on record was 15 and the oldest 95.
  • Some of the women were sent to laundries more than once - records show a total of 14,607 admissions, and a total of 8,025 known reasons for being sent to a laundry.

The statistics outlined in the report are based on records of only eight of the 10 laundries with the Sisters of Mercy operated Dun Laoghaire and Galway missing from the records.

Justice for Magdalenes: Women entered voluntarily claims wrong

It can no longer be claimed that these institutions were private and that 'the vast majority' of the girls and women entered voluntarily as has been claimed by former minister Batt O'Keeffe and testimony before the UN Committee Against Torture given by Sean Aylward, the former secretary general of the Department of Justice.

– The Justice for Magdalenes group

Magdalene survivors reject Kenny's apology

Survivors of Magdalene laundries have rejected Taoiseach Enda Kenny's apology and demanded a fuller admission from the government and the religious orders involved.

That is not an apology. He is the Taoiseach of our country, he is the Taoiseach of the Irish people, and that is not a proper apology.

– Maureen Sullivan, Magdalene Survivors Together

Another survivor Mary Smyth said she endured inhumane conditions in a laundry, which she said was worse than being in prison

I will go to the grave with what happened. It will never ever leave me.

– Mary Smyth

'988 women' buried in laundry plots across Ireland

A memorial plaque to victims of the Magdalene Laundries in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. Credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire

The Justice for Magdalenes group said it was aware of at least 988 women who are buried in laundry plots in cemeteries across Ireland and therefore must have stayed for life, however, the inquiry could only certify 879.

The last laundry, Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin's north inner city, closed in 1996.

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