Magdalene Laundry site must be preserved as centre for remembrance

December 6, 2017

Plans by Dublin City Council to sell the last remaining Magdalene Laundry site to an international hotel chain show utter disregard for the suffering of women who deserve to be properly commemorated by the State, Social Democrats Councillor Gary Gannon has said.

Councillor Gannon said the site of the former convent on Sean McDermott Street in Dublin should be preserved as a centre for commemoration and remembrance, not sold off to a private interest.

He said he was dismayed to learn in recent days from council officials that its preferred bidder for the site is the no-frills Toyoko Inn chain, which plans to build a 351-bed hotel, a 140-bed student residence, a private cultural amenity and a total of only ten residential units, four of which are earmarked as social housing.

“I am totally dismayed by this proposal which looks like a cruel joke. For over one hundred years, impoverished women were forced to clean the dirty bed-sheets of the major hotels in the city to generate huge profits for religious institutions,” said Councillor Gannon.

“The Toyoko Inn group has a reputation for almost exclusively hiring women – about 95 per cent of its workforce are female. How can we in all conscience allow this site to once again become a place where women will be paid relatively little to clean and serve the needs of others in order to generate enormous income for a wealthy institution?”

Councillor Gannon added:

“What is not in the current plans for the site is any reference at all to a memorial that was promised to the surviving women of the Magdalene Laundries. This memorial was a recommendation made by Justice Quirke in his report on the laundries in 2013 to ‘honour and commemorate the Magdalene women past and present’. That is something that many survivors and their representative groups hold very dear.

“I and other Councillors inquired at a recent meeting with council officials as to the location of the memorial. It was suggested that this would be decided after the sale by the new owners of the site in consultation with Dublin City Council.

“Quite literally, the memorial to the women incarcerated at this laundry and others will be an after-thought. That is both reprehensible and unforgivable. This is the only Magdalene laundry of its kind that is currently in the possession of the State and its disposal cannot be treated as just another commercial transaction. This important site must be preserved as a centre for commemoration and remembrance.”

ENDS

6 December 2017

Notes to Editors:
Councillor Gannon writes in more detail about his opposition to plans for the Sean McDermott Street site in an opinion piece today in Broadsheet.ie http://www.broadsheet.ie/author/gary-gannon/