Saturday, June 25, 2005

Aftermath of Abuse -Kathy's Story

Peter Mullan's award-winning film The Magdalene Sisters made international headlines by exposing the abuse that took place in the Magdalen laundries in Ireland. Over the course of eighty years, thousands of young Irish girls were incarcerated in homes run by nuns -where they were virtual work slaves. Many were beaten and sexually abused.

Kathy O'Beirne was one such Magdalen Girl. Now at the age of 44, in 'Kathy's Story - A Childhood Hell Inside the Magdalen Laundries' she give voice to the thousands of other women who were abused.

In a shocking interview on Irish radio this week, she recounted the failure to investigate the murder of many of these defencless girls; she described their continuing battle with the institutions who oversaw the abuse; and the relentless toll of suicide among the victims -which continues to this day.

The lessons of her story apply to the worldwide incidence of such abuse cases. Justice is not served just by bring the perpretrators to account. Not if the victims continue to take their lives, as we offer only pious words to comfort them -and not our effective support.

BreakForNews Audio Special on DSL or 56K Mp3

Kathy's Story - A Childhood Hell Inside the Magdalen Laundries
Also on Amazon


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are four religious orders in Ireland that ran Magdalen Laundries. All four say that Kathy O'Beirne never was a resident in one of their homes. One order of nuns that she referred to in the radio programme has asked the Minister for Justice to investigate her claims. What Magdalen home was she in?

8:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The Minister for Justice has asked the Garda Commissioner to examine claims by a Dublin woman that she was physically and sexually abused in Magdalene laundries about 20 years ago.

A spokeswoman for Michael McDowell confirmed yesterday that the Minister had received a request from an order of nuns to have allegations investigated, and that this request had been passed to Noel Conroy for "appropriate attention".

The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity said yesterday they could "categorically confirm" that Kathy O'Beirne, who made the allegations, did not spend any time at either of their laundries at Hyde Park or Sean McDermott Street.

Ms O'Beirne, who has documented her alleged abuse in a recently published book, Kathy's Story, stands over her allegations. In a statement to The Irish Times yesterday, she said: "I wholeheartedly endorse the call to the Minister for Justice to investigate the issues raised.

"I can categorically state I was under the care of the nuns in five different institutions throughout my life and I have official documentation that will corroborate this."

She declined to name the institutions, citing legal reasons. She noted she had taken a case to the State's Residential Institutions Redress Board, and was pursuing "a separate legal action".

In her book, Ms O'Beirne claims to have spent nearly 14 years in Magdalene laundries where she said she was sexually abused, beaten and repeatedly raped. She claimed a child was born as a result of these rapes who later died in the care of a religious order.

A spokesman for the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity said that as well as checking their records - which were "entirely intact" and recently logged by a professional archivist - the order had "talked to Sisters who worked in both laundries and they have no recollection of her being in those laundries even for a brief period".

The Sisters reiterated that their rules precluded them from accepting pregnant girls. "As a result, no pregnant girls ever worked in the laundries operated by us and no child was ever born in any of our premises."

Ms O'Beirne dismissed these claims. "To say that they never accepted pregnant girls; the whole of Ireland is laughing at them."

She said she wanted an apology, not money.

9:50 pm  

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