What Can I Do?
We offer the following example of an excellent letter written by Canadian academic Marie Croll, which appeared in the Irish Independent on 3 October 2009. It is a particularly good example for those supporters living outside of Ireland, as Dr. Croll titled her letter "The World is looking at you, Minister."
"I wish to respond to Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe's statement (Irish Independent, September 18) that former residents of Magdalene laundries are not eligible for compensation from the Residential Institutions Redress Board.
Mr O'Keeffe further stated: "The Magdalene laundries were privately owned and operated establishments which did not come within the responsibility of the State. The State did not refer individuals to the Magdalene laundries nor was it complicit in referring individuals to them."
As a Canadian scholar studying the Irish Magdalene asylums, I am deeply disappointed at this interpretation of past events, and the lack of respect and compassion for this group of Irish citizens, most of whom were unwillingly incarcerated and whose lives were often damaged by a system that history has documented to have been recognised and encouraged by the State.
How can the State openly discriminate against these women and children, as members of your nation?
How then can this government abdicate its past and current responsibilities to address these institutional abuses, recognising some abuses but not others and by denying its historical role?
Can your country, the country that established a model for this particular brand of institutional abuse, which it exported to other parts of the world, morally afford to deny compensation to the Magdalene survivors and their descendants?
The world is watching closely, Mr O'Keeffe.
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