Words: Eva O’Beirne
A “site of national conscience” to honour the residents of mother and baby homes, industrial and reform schools as well as the Magdalene laundries is to be opened on Seán McDermott Street.
The National Centre for Research and Remembrance will be on the site of a former Magdalene laundry on in the north inner city and will include a museum and exhibition space.
There will also be a research centre and records repository related to institutional trauma which will form part of the National Archives. The site will also include social housing and local community facilities as well as an educational and early-learning facility.
In 2017, Dublin City Council officials wished to sell the former laundry to Japanese hotel chain Toyoko Inn who wanted to develop a hotel and student accommodation on the site.
While physically situated in Dublin, the National Centre will be accessible for all survivors, whether in other parts of Ireland or abroad. It will provide digital access to records and exhibits and will focus on the inclusion of the personal testimonies of survivors; allowing the lived experiences of survivors to be formally accepted as part of the official record.
Recognising the sensitivity of this work and the importance of respecting data protection and privacy rights, the processes for preserving and accessing records will be progressed in conjunction with survivors and relevant experts, and will be supported by legal analysis and legislation.
“Over the past three decades, Ireland has had a difficult reckoning with its history of institutional abuse,” Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said on the announcement.
“This centre will provide a place of reflection and remembrance, while also ensuring that future generations can fully understand the appalling impact of those institutions.”
He believes the project will “make a significant contribution in our journey of recognising and learning from the failures of the past and acknowledging the hurt which continues to be felt by survivors and their families”.
Politicians have welcomed the news, with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald describing the centre as “an important step forward in a long-fought battle by survivors and their advocates to secure an appropriate memorial to the women and children who endured horrific institutional abuse under the State’s watch”.
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