Friday 28 October 2016

State should buy historic former Magdalene Laundry site

Published 19/04/2016 | 02:30

Mannix Flynn at a protest outside the Dáil for Magdalene Laundries victims. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
Mannix Flynn at a protest outside the Dáil for Magdalene Laundries victims. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne

It's been said that the country that forgets its history is doomed to repeat it. I hope the State will consider that advice when deciding whether to acquire the former Magdalene Laundry at Donnybrook, Dublin. I have just signed an online petition initiated by playwright/politician Mannix Flynn, who experienced first-hand the savagery of our industrial school system, calling on the State to intervene and rescue this grotesque but uniquely historic edifice from oblivion.

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It's more than just a building. It's a surviving example of one of the camps where thousands of women were incarcerated in that "Other Ireland" - the one to which Taoiseach Enda Kenny alluded when he apologised to the women who were wrongly detained, exploited, brutalised and stigmatised in those Hibernian Gulags.

The building was sold by the order of nuns who once managed it, but the buyers have yet to decide its ultimate fate. This is where the State can do itself some service. It can, on behalf of all of us, and to atone for its role in the horrific injustice inflicted on the Magdalenes, secure the building and preserve it as a permanent memorial to an era that we cannot afford to forget…lest it return to haunt us in the future.

Many of those terrible places have been quietly demolished, airbrushed out of our lives, out of sight and mind and replaced with modern buildings, most recently the Magdalene Laundry at New Ross in Co Wexford which was bulldozed into rubble.

The significance of the Donnybrook building is that it has been, up to now, preserved virtually intact with all of the grim paraphernalia linked to those theocratic punishment centres…the bleak dormitories where women cried themselves to sleep or dreamt of freedom; the cumbersome steam irons that the inmates pressed onto the laundry from morning till night; the giant back-breaking baskets they carried clothes in; the sinks they washed and slaved at; the small high windows they struggled to look out of to catch a glimpse of the sky; and the assortment of sacred religious statues and carvings they were forced to kneel before and pray to every day and night of their undeserved incarceration.

The building would serve as a precious educational resource to inform future generations.

John Fitzgerald

Callan, Co Kilkenny


Pope tackling complex issues

Though less informed on the Pope's latest document - 'Amoris Laetitia' (The Joy of Love), I agree with David Quinn's interpretation - "Francis seeks to avoid the errors of both 'liberals' and 'conservatives" (Irish Independent (15/04/16).

Within the past days I heard a 'run of the mill' practising Catholic comment: "This Pope is very liberal". Far from it, I would think. His intention is to brighten up the Church's teaching, by presenting it in a more compassionate, humane and realistic perspective; still aware the word of God never changes.

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin in his analysis of the document agrees there is no straight line between black and white. How correct he is! It's a very wobbly line, indeed - a true symbol of the frailties and struggles of human nature.

Pope Francis is clarifying that hitherto this line was believed 'straight' and any slip was sinful or shameful, carrying penalties; with less assurance of redemption. More emphasis is now on being non-judgemental and allowing the 'sinner' get back on the right path; difficult though it may seem, it is always possible.

The Pontiff likes to remind the faithful that "Communion is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak", who may wish to return. The new document is full of optimistic jerks, with little fundamental change. In summing it up, the two Archbishop Martins, Eamon of Armagh and Diarmuid of Dublin, possibly, give the proper assessment, in both agreeing that "people looking for a simple 'Yes' or 'No' from Pope Francis on complex issues will be disappointed".

James Gleeson,

Thurles, Co Tipperary


A tax for non-voters

A total of 1,147,534 persons, entitled to vote in General Election 2016, lacked the incentive to go to their local polling station. That's nearly one-third of the electorate.

I suggest that the two major parties abandon fruitless talking and take a rest until tomorrow morning. Then both parties, forgetting their differences, do their honourable duty, unite - elect a Taoiseach without further delay - form a two-party majority government and then immediately set themselves the task of enacting the necessary legislation to place a tax of at least €50 on those persons who fail to bother themselves with voting in either general or local elections without a good reason. This tax, which can be legitimately avoided, can be deducted at source from income and social welfare payments. The tax will easily cover more than the cost of the next general election - providing the same lethargic non-voters remain at home watching TV. Otherwise there will be a better turnout and the State bears the cost.

On satisfactory completion of this sole act of legislation, the Dáil should be dissolved instantly and the date of the next general election declared. Perhaps then the electorate will deliver a more decisive mandate so that a stable government can be formed that will work for the greater good of all.

Patrick Murray

Dundrum, Dublin 14


Something rotten in comparison

During the current political impasse, much has been heard about how Denmark has functioned with a minority government.

What the advocates have failed to mention is that, in the 2011 election in Denmark, not one Independent was elected to parliament. It is also worth noting that the total votes for Independents was slightly over 3,000 from a valid poll of over 3.5 million.

So where does that leave Ireland as regards a valid comparison, since it appears that there are no parish-pump menus in Denmark that parties who make up government are forced to choose from?

Paul Connolly

Co Kildare


Watered-down government

Seeing as Fianna Fáil has failed the electorate once again by deciding to play hopscotch, and preferring to walk the walk instead of talking the talk, what now with water charges? We will soon have a watered-down government in the form of a bit of this, and a bit of that.

Do we pay the latest water bill or not? As Enda Kenny might say: "Paddy wants to know what the story is."

Anthony Woods

Ennis, Co Clare

Irish Independent

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