SINN FÉIN’S MARY Lou McDonald is calling on the Minister for Justice and Equality to make a public statement on the delay in issuing redress payments and promised supports to the surviving women of the Magdalene Laundries.
She said that over eight months have now passed since the Taoiseach apologised to the surviving women of the Magdalene Laundries, but that not a single redress payment has been made.
“In fact none of the vital supports provided for in Mr Justice Quirke’s report have been delivered on,” she said, adding, every week she receives receives phone calls from surviving women “desperately upset and confused” by the government’s failure to provide the redress and supports promised months ago.
This failure is set against the government’s recent denial of widespread brutality and forced detention in the Laundries in response to very serious concerns raised by the United Nations Committee Against Torture with the state.
Minister Shatter is hiding behind yet another report that he says has yet to be signed off on by cabinet. For these elderly women who were so badly treated under the states watch, as recognised by the Taoiseach earlier this year, time is ticking. We know of at least two women who have since passed away and others who are living in very poor circumstances.
Earlier this month, Magdalene Survivors Together called on the Irish Government to begin the process of paying out the compensation to the Magdalene women immediately and without further delay.
However, 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, stating that some of these other recommendations “are complicated and will require legislation”.
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 and called it a disgrace.
O’ Riordan described it as “a disgrace” that the Government has not started the process of paying these women compensation.
McDonald was also critical of the report into the Magdelene Laundries, stating that it was not comprehensive enough.
“Just this week the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva added its name to the call for an independent investigation into the treatment of women held in the Magdalene laundries,” she said.
She added: “The Minister for Justice and Equality needs to make a public statement on the current delay in progressing the promised redress scheme, and he also needs to give a firm commitment as to when the women will start receiving their payments and supports as provided for in the Quirke recommendations.”