It was they who exploited the women

And speaking of the Magdalenes – here is a petition you can sign, to force the orders who ran the Magdalen laundries to pay compensation to the victims.

They have refused to make payment of compensation, leaving this to the Irish Government but it was they who exploited the women, they who ran the laundries and they who should pay for the abuse they committed.  Letting them get away with not paying would be a true travesty of justice.

As is so common with the church.



  1. says

    Why does the thought of the unaccountable money flowing toward Faith Based Initiatives? I’d like to think it’s going toward relatively benign things like grift and cronyism, since we don’t really measure the effectiveness of the money (there’s no quota on the number or weight of items laundered). Maybe that’s why we don’t hold the receivers of the money accountable; if we did, they’d start modern day “plantations”, like the Magdalen laundries, to get the actual work done.

  2. René says

    It was they who exploited the women

    Surely ‘they’ is ungrammatical there. It was we, non-natives, who pointed that out.

  3. says

    No, it’s not ungrammatical. You mean because “it” is singular but “they” is plural? That’s just how “it” works. It would be incomprehensible to say “they were they who exploited the women” – and it would be Martian to say “it were they who exploited the women.”

  4. says

    No, actually. Yes between you and me, of course (and why are so many people getting that wrong ALL OF A SUDDEN?), but the verb “to be” functions as an equal sign, so “it is they” is (formally speaking) correct. It’s not very idiomatic now, so it sounds odd to most people, but it’s not a “mistake” in grammar.

  5. René says

    My linguistics goes by the ear. (Funny singular that, ‘linguistics.’) And my punctuation goes by the eye 🙂

  6. says

    Yeh – as I say, it’s really not idiomatic. I sometimes have to decide between idiomatic and formally “correct” when editing other people’s work, and that one always gave me trouble. If I’d been writing that petition I would have re-worded it to avoid the issue altogether – I would have made it “but they were the ones who”…

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