The Irish Times reported on the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD’s visit to IWSSN’s Whispering Hope Centre, based in Kentish Town, London. The Taoiseach visited Whispering Hope to find out more about the support it has provided for Survivors living in the UK, and to meet with Magdalene Laundry Women who have benefited from the support offered by the Centre and financial awards from the Irish Department of Justice and Equality via the Restorative Justice Scheme.
Reporting on the visit, The Irish Times said:
“The ‘Whispering Hope’ project has helped British-based survivors, 76 in all which use its services, benefit from the restorative justice and recompense scheme that was put in place by the Government.
The driving forces behind the campaign for 15 years have been Cllr Sally Mulready and Phyllis Morgan. Ms Mulready said the project has been highly successful and many of the women were now at a stage where they wanted to move forward.
“They owe it to their children and grandchildren to move forward. The focus is on reconciliation and – it’s an old-fashioned word but an important one – forgiveness.”
She said Mr Kenny’s apology to the Dáil had removed the stigma that had been carried by many of the Magdalen survivors.
Talking to the group Mr Kenny said that many spoke of the apology allowing them to reclaim their heritage and their country. But he said that the kindness of the women and their experiences had been a powerful force in redeeming and restoring the State, making it a better place.
Referring to his four-hour meeting with the women in the Irish embassy in London at the time, he referred in particular to the women singing the song ‘Whispering Hope’ to him.
“I have to say to those that one of the most powerful impacts in my career in politics has been when I met with you that day [and]the singing of ‘Whispering Hope’… It has become the anthem of the Magdalen women.”
Mary Currington, who was brought up in orphanage and was then sent into a Magdalen Laundry in Cork at the age of 18 said: “Our stories were too long inside of us. A lot of people in Ireland shut their ears about what happened behind those high walls.”
She said all that had changed when Mr Kenny apologised on behalf of the State. “I was there in the Dáil when he made the apology. I feel very privileged to have been there. We felt that the warmth from him and the emotion he expressed when he read the apology,” she said.
Ms Currington came over the Bedfordshire seven months after leaving the Magdalen and made a new life for herself, becoming a mother and grandmother. In a hand-written letter delivered to Mr Kenny she wrote: “You changed the lives of so many Magdalen ladies the day you made the apology to the nation. It was a very emotional day which we will never forget. You gave us the courage to open up about what went in our past lives.””
Read the full article here.