DUBLIN -- Ireland's government oversaw workhouses run by Catholic nuns that once held thousands of women and teenage girls in unpaid labor, usually against their will, a fact-finding report concluded yesterday, establishing state involvement in the infamous Magdalene Laundries for the first time.

But Prime Minister Enda Kenny stopped short of making any official apology for the decades of harsh treatment documented in 10 Magdalene Laundries, the last of which closed in 1996. He emphasized that the more than 1,000-page report offered a nuanced view of life in the laundries far less stark or one-sided than has been depicted on stage and in film.

Kenny rejected activists' claims of conditions akin to prison and slavery, and confined his statement of regret to the longtime popular view that most residents of the laundries were "fallen women," a euphemism for prostitutes.

Opposition leaders demanded that he offer an official apology. Kenny said all lawmakers should read the report and debate its findings in two weeks. -- AP

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