Sunday 18 February 2018

Bruce Arnold: McAleese Report flies in the face of painful evidence of laundry victims

Martin McAleese
Martin McAleese

THE burden of historical truth, in respect of the Magdalene Laundries, is huge. It also was in respect of the industrial schools. It has not been fully confronted in regard to either of these monstrous blemishes on the State. The grim reality of this faces Enda Kenny as he tackles a history of events made more confused by the report presented to the Government by Martin McAleese. History cannot be confined to the period since 1922. What the State took over from the British and how it then changed it has also to be part of the picture.

If we go back well before the State's foundation, to the census of 1901, the material that bears on the present question of the Magdalene Laundries emerges more clearly in historical terms and, though painful, sets the context of how the system worked then and later under state control.

The Dublin Sisters of Charity had 16 convents run by 341 nuns. Their most notable property was St Vincent's Hospital, then in St Stephen's Green, "a most remunerative institution, judging by the vast sums of money it received, and by its continuous absorption of expensive private houses to accommodate the ever-increasing number of paying patients".

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