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Dublin: 15 °C Thursday 28 August, 2014

‘Today is about justice’: Magdalene redress scheme details announced

The Magdalene survivors will all receive cash payments from €11,500 to €100,000, depending on their length of stay.

The site of the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin
The site of the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 22.00

THIS AFTERNOON SAW the details the redress payments for women who were in the Magdalene Laundries have been announced today, and will see women receiving payments of up to €100,000, depending on their length of stay at the institutions.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch have announced the scheme of payments for women who were admitted to and worked in the Magdalene Laundries, St Mary’s Training Centre Stanhope Street and House of Mercy Training School, Summerhill, Wexford.

The announcement follows the publication of the report by Justice Quirke, President of the Law Reform Commission, on the establishment of an ex-gratia scheme and supports for the women affected.

Minister Shatter and Minister Lynch have met with the religious congregations and they have been asked to make a contribution to the implementation of the recommendations.

Important day

Speaking on the publication of the Quirke Report today, Minister Shatter said:

For the former residents of the Magdalen Laundries; St Mary’s Training Centre Stanhope Street and House of Mercy Training School, Summerhill, Wexford, today is a profoundly important day. They have given so much of their time, their energy, their courage, and their vision of human dignity to make this day come true. Today is about justice

He said that “for far too long the plight of the Magdalene women was ignored by the State” and that this Government was determined to see justice done.

Shatter said that in accepting the recommendations contained in Judge Quirke’s Report, “we are not only acknowledging the painful past experiences of the Magdalene women but are taking steps to address, in very real and practical ways, their present and future needs”.

Minister for State, Kathleen Lynch thanked the women who came forward to tell their stories of their experiences in a Magdalene Laundry, as well as the representative groups who have campaigned on their behalf.

The Government has decided to accept all recommendations in Judge Quirke’s report.

Redress payments

Mr Justice Quirke has recommended that the women in question should all receive cash payments in the range €11,500 (if their duration of stay was three months or less) to €100,000 (duration of stay of 10 years or more).

If the cash payment due is above €50,000, Justice Quirke recommends that it should paid in the form of a lump sum of €50,000 plus an annual payment related to the notional remaining lump sum, to be paid weekly.

The Department of Justice and Equality will start processing applications immediately, and a copy of the report and an application form was posted yesterday to women who have already registered an expression of interest with the Department.

If they do not receive a form within the next seven days they should contact the Department. Those who have not yet registered an interest can contact the Department to obtain a form.

According to Shatter, the verification process for some applicants “will take time depending on the availability and extent of records”.

The Department of Justice and Equality is in discussions with the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the establishment of an independent appeals process.

Further recommendations

Judge Quirke’s other recommendations include:

  • The Magdalene women should all be granted access without charge to a wide range of services (GP, hospital, drugs, dental counselling etc.) i.e. an enhanced medical card;
  • All Magdalene women who have reached pensionable age should have an income equivalent to the State contributory pension;
  • All Magdalene women who have not reached pensionable age should have an income from the State of €100 per week;
  • The cash payments should be exempt from income and other taxes and should not be taken into account for the purposes of means testing social welfare or other entitlements and should not affect funding under sections 38 and 39 of the Health Act 2004;
  • The creation of a dedicated unit to provide advice and support, assistance in meeting with the religious congregations, social opportunities to meet other such women and to provide for the creation and maintenance of a memorial park;
  • The extension of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 so that persons are appointed to look after on an individual basis the best interests of Magdalene women;
  • Any previous payments made to these women under the Residential Redress Scheme should not be taken into account.

These recommendations will be implemented in full but, as implementation of some of them is quite complicated and may require legislation, a committee with key Departments and the Office of the Attorney General has been established.

It will examine recommendations and report back within a 4-6 week time frame.

The Citizen’s Information Board is being invited to assist and advise any person who wants independent advice on the matter.

The full report can be read at this link.

Queries can be directed to: 01-476 8660, email: info@idcmagdalen.ie. Address: Restorative Justice Scheme, Department of Justice and Equality, Montague Court, 7-11 Montague Street, Dublin 2

The telephone-based counselling and support service Connect is available for anyone distressed by today’s announcement of the redress fund for Magdalene Laundry survivors. The free service will open for additional hours this evening from 6pm to midnight, and will also be open from 6-10pm each evening for the rest of the week.

Freephone 1800 477 477 from the Republic of Ireland and 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland and the UK. Further information at www.connectcounselling.ie.

Originally posted at 16.30 today

Read: Details of Magdalene compensation scheme due today>

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