DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland’s government oversaw workhouses run by Catholic nuns that once held thousands of women and teenage girls in unpaid labor, often against their will, a fact-finding report concluded Tuesday, establishing state involvement in the country’s infamous Magdalene Laundries for the first time.
But Prime Minister Enda Kenny stopped short of making any official apology for the decades of harsh treatment documented in 10 Magdalene Laundries, the last of which closed in 1996. He emphasized that the more than 1,000-page report offered a nuanced view of life in the laundries far less stark or one-sided than has been depicted on stage and in film.
Kenny rejected activists’ claims of laundry conditions akin to prison and slavery, and confined his statement of regret to the longtime popular view in Ireland that most residents of the Magdalene Laundries had been branded as “fallen women,” a euphemism for prostitutes.
“The stigma that the branding together of all the residents, all 10,000, in the Magdalene Laundries, needs to be removed, and should have been removed long before this,” Kenny said. “And I really am sorry that that never happened, and I regret that it never happened.”
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