It was a 'good cop, bad cop' routine from the coalition leaders
Published 21/02/2013 | 04:00
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny took care not to blame the Catholic Church for the "national shame" of the Magdalene Laundries – in marked contrast to the hard-hitting approach of Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.
He only mentioned the Catholic Church once in his much-praised Dail speech, whereas Mr Gilmore managed to fit in six fairly damning references.
The Labour leader spoke about how the State "bowed" to the Catholic Church and "colluded" with it and how the moment of justice for the Magdalene women began with rolling back the "dominance" of one church.
In what was very much a "good cop, bad cop" routine, Mr Kenny outlined details of the compensation scheme for the survivors – and Mr Gilmore issued the demand for a contribution from the four religious congregations who ran the Magdalene Laundries.
A government source said that the speeches of both men had been discussed beforehand and were written to complement each other. And the Cabinet was also briefed about the intention of Mr Gilmore to call for a contribution from the religious orders.
A sign of this co-ordination came yesterday with Fine Gael's Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and Labour's Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte backing Mr Gilmore's demand for the religious orders to play their part. And Justice Minister Alan Shatter is writing to the congregations to make the formal request.
But it is no surprise that Mr Kenny personally opted to keep his references to the Catholic Church to a minimum in his speech.
He had already delivered withering criticism of the Vatican for downplaying the rape and torture of children in his speech on the report into the Cloyne Diocese almost two years ago.
And he has been called "worse than Herod" by pro-life supporters and criticised by Catholic bishops for his plan to legislate for abortion when a mother's life is at risk.
So there is no need for him to antagonise the Catholic Church any further just now.