Tuesday, 5th February 2013
I join in the tributes to former Senator, Martin McAleese, and on behalf of my group, I wish him a fond farewell and thank him for his contributions. I wish him every success with his future endeavours. I also thank his assistant, Ms Catherine Butler.
We all await the interdepartmental committee report on the investigation into the State’s involvement in the Magdalen laundries, on which Mr. McAleese worked. Everyone is thinking of the women today. It is part of our shameful past. Some of the survivors had, and have, intellectual disabilities and mental health difficulties, while others have disabilities as a result of their incarceration and some continue to live in institutions. When I realised they were still not being properly looked after, I wondered how much of this was about our shameful past and how much was about today. The measure of our society will be how we deal with the report. Will they get the apology and the compensation they rightfully deserve? The people will look at this carefully and each of us, individually and collectively, has a role in ensuring the voices of the survivors are heard. I trust that when the report is published at 4 p.m., we will give a voice to their suffering and will ensure justice is done, as opposed to being talked about.
I acknowledge the work of Older and Bolder, which has announced that it will close on 30 June 2013. I am saddened that a strong advocacy voice such as this will cease due to a lack of funding. The organisation was funded by Atlantic Philanthropies but will no longer be able to continue after 30 June. It played a strong role in our work on the rights of older people and it provided a strong co-ordinated voice during the recent budget discussions. There are seven excellent older people’s organisations under the Older and Bolder umbrella, and a strong co-ordinated voice helps us as Senators in our work in advocating for change. I thank Ms Patricia Conboy and her team.