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Magdalene group seeks meeting with Shatter over ‘deeply unfair’ redress scheme

The compensation scheme announced this week falls far short of what’s required, survivors say.

Maureen Sullivan and Marina Gambold of 'Magdalene Survivors Together'
Maureen Sullivan and Marina Gambold of 'Magdalene Survivors Together'
Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated 22.10

THE MAJORITY OF the Magdalene women are ‘deeply upset’ with the compensation package announced yesterday by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, according to support group Magdalene Survivors Together this morning.

The scheme – drawn up following recommendations by Justice John Quirke – will see survivors receive payments of up to €100,000, depending on their length of stay at the institutions.

Anyone who spent three months or less in the laundries will receive €11,500, with the amount of €100,000 only awarded for those who stayed ten years or more.

Magdalene Survivors Together says it’s deeply unhappy with the payments, and with religious orders’ non-acceptance of their role and responsibility for running the laundries.

The group is calling for Minister Shatter to meet again with its members to discuss the issues. Spokesman Steven O’Riordan said:

It is clear from the proposed recommendations by John Quirke that the only people losing out here are the Magdalene women.

The scheme is set up in such a way that it prevents the women from ultimately claiming their entire entitlements. The money proposed is way below what the women should be entitled to.

Maureen Sullivan spent two years in the New Ross laundry from the age of 12. She said the amount offered by the Government fell far short of recognising the emotional and physical impact of her time spent in the institution:

I worked on average 85 hours a week, with minimum breaks and little or no food. Further to that I completely missed out on my education, and other social aspects. That and other human rights and constitutional rights were denied to me.

I was in there for two years and I know I worked at least 8,000 hours within that two years. I was a slave for the nuns I was only 12 years of age.

The money on offer does not reflect the work I did as a child and the emotional damage it has done to me is unimaginable.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter pictured at the launch of the redress scheme yesterday (Image: Photocall Ireland)

Another survivor of New Ross – Marina Gambold – said she felt “lost and upset” by what was on offer. Kathleen Legg, who spent time in the Stanhope Street laundry in Dublin said she was “lost for words” at the details of the scheme, adding:

Sure, I’ll be dead by the time any of this is resolved.

Steven O’Riordan said a full enquiry may be needed to establish if the women have been undervalued, if the state is “not willing to recognise the full extent of what happened”.

Another campaign group – Justice for Magdalenes – welcomed yesterday’s redress scheme, saying it went some way towards compensating women for their experiences, though they still have ‘some concerns’.

Speaking on RTÉ’s ‘Today with Pat Kenny’ this morning, Minister Shatter said he was disappointed that some survivors were unhappy with what was announced, and urged them to take some time to go through the finer details of the scheme.

He said a minimum of 608 former residents would be entitled to redress, adding that the final cost of compensation was estimated at between 32 and 58 million euro.

Minister Shatter said he met with representatives of the religious congregations last week, and that they were being given more time to reflect on their financial contribution to the scheme. The minister said:

The religious congregations have been positive in one area in that they are facilitating access to records and validating claims.

We’ve given them a period to reflect on what we said to them, but I think there would be substantial disappointment, not only from the Government and the women, but also from the public if the congregations fail to provide a financial contribution.

Originally posted 11.50 today

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

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