THE Magdalene Laundries scandal epitomises the blinkered attitudes that pervaded the highest offices of the Irish state for decades.
Enda Kenny’s humble expression of remorse will not change the past horrors experienced by the thousands of Irish women who were subjected to a litany of horrors whilst in the laundries, nor will his heartfelt tone do much to ameliorate their pain.
But his words, and the sentiment behind them, make a clear statement: the Irish government of today is recognising and accepting the sins of the fathers. This is the Irish state’s admission, through the Taoiseach, of mea maxima culpa.
In this new era of enlightenment, perhaps the Irish Prime Minister will recognise and apologise for another of the Irish Republic’s national shames - that for 30 years, through neglect or design, the Irish state failed to secure its border with Northern Ireland.
As a result, one of the most ruthless terrorist murder machines in the western world, the Provisional IRA, was able to launch attack after attack on the unionist community in Castlederg with consistent impunity.
Bombs manufactured in the Republic were delivered across the border with frightening frequency during the 1970s, and a string of carefully planned, cold-blooded assassinations were launched from Co Donegal during the 1980s.
The sickening irony is that during the foot-and-mouth crisis of 2001, you couldn’t bring a ham sandwich from North to South, such was the effectiveness of the forces of the Republic of Ireland in securing their side of the border.
Clearly, when it comes down to protecting its own national interest, the Irish Government had the ability to implement effective border security. But when it came to taking measures that would save the lives of Protestants in an isolated border community, at best the Irish Government just wasn’t interested, and at worst it willingly facilitated the IRA’s sectarian murder-spree.
Either way, Mr Kenny, what happened was another national shame.
Derg Valley Victims’ Voice