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Dublin: 3 °C Sunday 23 November, 2014

Magdalene Laundries survivors have received €10.3 million in compensation

Justice Minister Alan Shatter told the Dáil that 731 applications have been made under the redress scheme so far.

Angela Downey, whose mother was a Magdalene Laundries survivor, attends a vigil at Leinster House.
Angela Downey, whose mother was a Magdalene Laundries survivor, attends a vigil at Leinster House.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE STATE HAS paid out €10.3 million in compensation to 277 Magdalene Laundries survivors to date.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter told the Dáil last week that some 731 applications have been made through the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme.

Of the 366 formal offers made, 305 have been accepted by applicants.

Shatter said that a provisional assessment on the applicant’s length of stay in a relevant institution has been made in a further 65 instances.

“The remaining cases require further investigation and are being processed as quickly as possible,” he noted.

Within my Department, a unit of 9 officials is working full time on engaging with the women and processing applications. They are available to answer any queries the women may have in relation to the scheme.

Stanhope Street

During parliamentary questions, Deputy Martin Heydon asked Shatter if the lack of files being provided by the Sisters of Charity from Stanhope Street is adversely affecting former residents of St Mary’s Training Centre in making applications under the scheme.

Shatter said that of the 103 applications relating to the centre that have been received, 20 women have been paid a lump sum and a further eight have received a formal offer.

Provisional assessments of the applicant’s length of stay in the centre have been made in a further 12 cases.

Shatter stated:

“The remaining cases require further investigation. As with all of the specified institutions, if the relevant religious congregation has no clear record, my officials will carry out a thorough examination checking whatever records are available to support the claim. The application forms requested applicants to consent to the provision of personal information to my Department by any Government Department, agency, health or educational institution and the religious congregations for the purpose of verification in relation to their application.”

He noted that applicants are also asked to provide any relevant information that could corroborate their claim that they were in a specific institution for a period of time.

Appeals

Shatter said Department officials “make an assessment on the basis of the records and statements available as to whether, on the balance of probabilities, the applicant was admitted to and worked in one of the 12 institutions covered by the scheme”.

A letter relating to the assessment is then sent to the applicant, who can accept or reject it.

“If the applicant accepts the provisional assessment made, a letter of formal offer will issue to her. If the applicant disagrees with the assessment she can, in the first instance, request her case to be reviewed by an officer of a higher grade,” Shatter said.

If an applicant is unsatisfied with the decision of the reviewer, she can appeal to the Ombudsman’s Office.

The redress scheme was set up following the publication of a report by former senator Martin McAleese into the controversial laundries.

Read: Memorial event remembers women incarcerated in Magdalene laundries

Related: Magdalene women share nearly €9m in compensation – but still waiting on healthcare

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