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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 1 November, 2014

Call for immediate compensation as second Magdalene survivor passes away

Kathleen Whelan is one of two members of Magdalene Survivors Together who has died this year before receiving compensation.

Magdalene Laundries
Magdalene Laundries
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 5.3pm

A CALL HAS been made for compensation to be immediately paid to Magdalene laundries survivors following the death of two women.

The organisation Magdalene Survivors Together has said it is “extremely upset and disappointed” to announce the passing of Magdalene Survivors Together member Kathleen Whelan (68).

She is the second such member to die this year, and passed away very suddenly at her home in Cork City on Sunday 20 October, the day of her 68th birthday.

Compensation

Magdalene Survivors Together is now calling on the Irish Government to begin the process of paying out the compensation to the Magdalene women immediately and without further delay.

Steven O’ Riordan, director of Magdalene Survivors Together, said that since the State apology to the Magdalene women in February of this year, the group has seen two of its members pass away without getting their full entitlement.

O’ Riordan described it as “a disgrace” that the Government has not started the process of paying these women compensation.

Magdalene Survivor Mary Smyth accused the Government of “dragging their heels on the issue”, saying “they know that most of the women are frail, ill and not able to voice their concerns”.

Magdalene Survivors Together said it has been “inundated” with complaints as to how the Government has dealt with the payment process.

Magdalene Survivors Together is now calling on the Dáil to debate the issue immediately and establish:

  • Why is there a delay in the women’s payments?
  • What is the process going to be in paying the women?
  • Why can’t the women be paid in full as requested?
  • What is the situation with regard the women’s medical cards, the national monument and other such matters which still have not been discussed?

Kathleen Whelan will be buried with her mother in St Mary’s Cemetery, Delvin Co, Westmeath.

Legislation

The Department of Justice told TheJournal.ie that after the government approved the compensation scheme, it tasked an interdepartmental group with considering the steps necessary to implement the other recommendations.

Some of these other recommendations “are complicated and will require legislation”.

The Minister established a special unit to process applications and to determine whether an applicant resided and worked in an institution covered by the scheme, the duration of their stay, and the calculation of the capital sum due to be paid to them. Over 590 applications have been received to date and are being processed.

Payments cannot commence until decisions have been made on these other recommendations.

The Department said that the Minister will bring the interdepartmental group’s report back before the Government “very shortly for final decision”.

It is expected that the first offers of payments of a lump sum will issue within four – six weeks of the Government decision.

Read: Magdalene protest to take place at Sisters of Mercy office>

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