I share the pride of many people throughout the country with regard to the Taoiseach's apology on behalf of all of us to the survivors of the Magdalen laundries. That very eloquent apology spoke for the entire nation. I was happy that the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Gilmore, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter, and the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, met the survivors in Dublin and London. It was both reassuring and heart-rending to hear a number of the survivors who appeared on "The Late Late Show" indicate how happy they were with the exchanges which took place during those meetings. That is all to the good.
Great credit is due to the victims and survivors. These individuals showed remarkable courage and tenacity and obviously possessed a great sense of hope in order to keep going against all the odds. They maintained their belief that, ultimately the truth would win out. Those survivors can take a collective bow. They should be very proud of themselves. Those who championed their cause also deserve particular credit. Everybody is a supporter now but there were those who stood up for the survivors in the past. I refer to Professor James Smith of Boston College in the US, Mary Raftery, an Irish journalist now deceased, and a number of other advocates. A number of individuals championed the cause in the worst of times and they deserve recognition. Members of this House who attended support meetings a number of years ago also deserve great credit. Former Senator Martin McAleese's report is excellent and comprehensive. It was delivered on time and on a low budget. We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. McAleese.
Nobody can excuse any of the cruelties visited on the survivors of the Magdalen laundries. The immediate perpetrators must stand condemned in respect of anyone who experienced abuse or cruelty at their hands or who was deprived of education or love as a result of their actions. Those members of religious orders who were involved in what happened must accept responsibility. There is no gainsaying or avoiding that. We must also accept the State's involvement in respect of this matter. According to the McAleese report, 8.1% of the referrals to the laundries were in respect of those convicted of petty crimes by the criminal justice system, a further 7.8% were from industrial or reformatory schools and in the region of another 7% of referrals came from the social services. There is also evidence to the effect that 18% of the business of the Sean MacDermott Street laundry took the form of State contracts. There is no avoiding the obvious level of State involvement in this matter. That is why the Taoiseach's apology was apt and why, in light of the need for practical solutions, the work being carried out by Mr. Justice Quirke is particularly appropriate. Gardaí were also involved in informal admissions to the laundries. Indeed, there were all sorts of other informal admissions that were quasi-judicial and quasi-legal in nature. This dimension must be acknowledged.
We must all accept our collective guilt in respect of this matter. There was a culture which existed in the country and which gave rise to the Magdalen laundries. The nature of that culture was to support the laundries. In addition, there was a judgmental dimension to what occurred and there was a focus on perceived respectability. There were all sorts of social and cultural forces which gave rise to the creation of the Magdalen laundries. We or our ancestors were all part of what went on. Many of us lived through some of the period and we all have a collective guilt. There is no avoiding that fact. While it is important to look back at aspects of our past that are glorious, worthy of celebration and of which we, as a people, should be proud, it is never healthy to avoid or brush under the carpet the dark parts of that past. The matter under discussion is certainly a dark part of our history. This is something of which we should not be proud, particularly as, individually and collectively, we all contributed to what occurred. In that sense, we share a collective guilt.
The values we had gave rise to the creation of the laundries. We must give practical expression to our guilt and that is why I welcome the fact that Mr. Justice Quirke will be designing a structure of compensation. It is important that, in the context of that compensation, the needs of individuals must be identified. There are varying needs among the victims and survivors. In many cases they require pensions, incomes, nursing home care, psychological support or bereavement counselling. A range of supports and a variety of approaches will be required and it will not just be a matter of issuing lump sum payments. Mr. Justice Quirke will develop a model in this regard. It is important that we should avoid unnecessary expenditure in respect of the compensation process. There should not be protracted litigation. In light of their age, that would not be fair to the survivors. It would also be both cumbersome and expensive. We must not waste the money which should be spent on the survivors on pursuing unnecessary and cumbersome legal proceedings. We must consider people's individual needs.
There is no avoiding the fact that the religious orders will be obliged to make a contribution to the final compensation fund.