Mayor of Clare Pat Daly apologises for Clare County Council role in Magdalene laundry committals

Mayor of Clare, Pat Daly

THE Mayor of Clare, Pat Daly (FF), yesterday formally apologised to the Clare girls who were committed to the Magdalene Laundry in Limerick by Clare County Council.
Before the establishment of the regional health boards in the 1970s, Clare County Council also acted as the local heath authority for the county, and in that context effectively signed over a number of Clare teenage girls into the laundries.
The apology came as a result of a motion put forward by Shannon-based councillor Patricia McCarthy (Ind) who asked that the council acknowledge its role in the Magdalene system.
The motion received support from a number of councillors including Brian Meaney (Ind) and Pat Hayes (FF) but Cllr Gerry Flynn (Ind) cautioned against an apology as it could place the council with a legal obligation to compensate the women involved.
“We may need to get a legal advice on this because we could be going down the road of compensation.
“This could have serious repercussions for this council and I would very much like to hear what the manager has to say about this,” said Cllr Flynn.
Speaking on the motion the Mayor of Clare, Pat Daly, comment that the debate itself represented an apology.
However, following calls from Cllr McCarthy and Cllr Hayes, Cllr Daly made an official apology an behalf of the local authority.
“I have no problem in apologising – with the County Manager [Tom Coughlan] not here today.
“This happened back in the ‘40s, didn’t it. I publicly apologise here today,” said Cllr Daly.
Cllr Patricia McCarthy also called for some sort of monument to be erected by the council to recognise the Clare women who were in the Magdalene Laundies.
It is as yet unclear if some sort of monument will be constructed.
“We can make all sorts of excuses but nothing can excuse how these girls were treated. They were made to feel less of a person and they suffered terribly,” she said.
“We must acknowledge [the council role] and we must not just have a public apology but also a tangible public reminder so that this deeds will not be forgotten.
“Just having a debate and leaving it at that would do a great disservice to these women. I find it very difficult to see this become an issue about compensation.
“I don’t think that it is a sufficient reason to justify not offering an apology.
“I don’t think that it is right to deny these people a proper apology, or a monument just because of the issue of compensation. It is not right at all.”
Following the debate Cllr Flynn distanced himself from his previous comments on the issue and stated his support for Cllr McCarthy’s motion.

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