Thursday 19 January 2017

Lise Hand: Mealy-mouthed 'regret' can never erase this stain

Published 06/02/2013 | 04:00

Members of Magdalene Survivors Together (L to R) Marina Gambold, Mary Smyth and Steven O' Riordan during a press conference on the Magdalene report at the George Frederick Handel Hotel, Dublin
Members of Magdalene Survivors Together (L to R) Marina Gambold, Mary Smyth and Steven O' Riordan during a press conference on the Magdalene report at the George Frederick Handel Hotel, Dublin

They were called Fallen Women. But in reality they were Loose Ends. The 10,000 and more women and girls who passed through the gates of the Magdalene Laundries since 1922 were regarded as no more than female flotsam and jetsam which washed up on the shores of the State.

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The authorities didn't know what to do with them, nor particularly care about what befell them. They were loose ends, round pegs in the rigidly square society ordained by the conjoined twins of church and State.

They were orphans, or children of neglected or abusive homes, or rejected by foster parents. They were dirt-poor, unloved, on remand or probation for crimes ranging from non-payment of a train ticket to manslaughter, but mostly convicted of petty offences.

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