We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

File photo Shutterstock/ConorReid

'A slap in the face': Mother and baby home survivors told they need photo ID to apply for redress

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said applicants who don’t have photo ID will be “treated empathetically and on a case-by-case basis”.


SURVIVORS OF MOTHER and baby institutions have been told they will be unable to apply for redress if they don’t have photographic identification.

The Government’s long-awaited redress scheme finally opens for applications today. However, some survivors have been told they can’t apply unless they provide photographic ID.

Applications by older survivors are due to be prioritised to ensure they will receive financial redress as quickly as possible. However, many elderly survivors do not have a passport, driving licence or Public Service Card (PSC).

When this issue was raised in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon by Independent TD Catherine Connolly, outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said applicants who don’t have photo ID will be “treated empathetically and on a case-by-case basis”.

He acknowledged it “has taken far too long” to get the scheme up and running, but he welcomed the fact applicants can finally apply for redress. 

The son of a survivor in her late 80s contacted the Department of Children last week to see if she can apply for redress as she does not have a photographic ID. He was told she could not.

His mother spent over a year in a mother and baby institution in county Meath in the 1970s.

The amount of compensation people are eligible for depends on their length of stay in an institution and whether or not they engaged in ‘commercial work’. Compensation for mothers starts at €5,000 and increases based on the duration of their stay 

The woman’s son said this money could help pay for her care and medical needs in her final years. She is physically unable to leave her home.

She is mentally fine but, without ID, her son cannot apply on her behalf unless she signs over power of attorney to him. If she died, he would be able to apply on her behalf.

Her son told The Journal: “I called the helpline and explained the situation. She’s an elderly woman, she can’t leave the house. She doesn’t have a passport or driver’s licence, her pension is paid directly into a bank account, and she never got a PPS card.”

He said he was told he could apply on her behalf if he was her legal guardian or had power of attorney, or if she died. The only other option is to apply for a passport or PSC in her name. However, he said leaving her home to get photos taken is “just not an option”.

“The guy on the phone said, unfortunately, there’s nothing that they can do about it. I asked what other options we have but was told, ‘There aren’t really any options for you’.”

The man said the family is very upset that his mother cannot apply for redress.

It’s a phrase that’s used all the time, but it’s a slap in the face.

“After so many years and waiting so long to be even recognised, to think the final hurdle is a simple thing like a photo ID. Surely there could be some way around this?”

Legal action

The family is, reluctantly, considering legal action but is not sure that’s a realistic option. 

The man said: “We have considered that, but what would happen if you go down the legal route? Years and years before a settlement offer in the High Court?

“That could take three, four, five years. Honestly, I don’t know if she has three, four or five years left.”

When asked about this family’s situation, the Department of Children said they cannot comment on individual cases or any potential legal action.

However, they said asking applicants to provide photographic ID is “a standard requirement for a scheme of this type”.

“It is also a measure to ensure the protection of applicants to the scheme and their personal data,” the spokesperson said.

Application forms will be posted out to people, as requested. They will also be available at a number of libraries, citizens information centres and embassies overseas.

The spokesperson added that the scheme will be “promoted through a substantive public awareness campaign” in Ireland and overseas in order to reach as many people as possible.

Extra staff

As part of the Government’s response to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Institutions, adopted people are now legally entitled to get access to their records. Since that initiative opened in October 2022, some people have experienced long delays in accessing their records.

The department’s spokesperson said they don’t envisage similar delays in terms of processing redress applications.

They said up to 90 staff will work on processing applications, as needed. A Payment Scheme Executive Office based in the department will be supported by an outside company, RelateCare, which was appointed after a procurement process.

RelateCare typically specialises in helping healthcare organisations with “patient access and clinical communication solutions”. The company has previously carried out work with the HSE and the Mater Private Network.

The spokesperson said all searches of records related to the redress scheme will be carried out by “dedicated staff in the department” and that RelateCare “will not have access” to these files.

They said:

It is envisaged that the majority of applications will be straightforward insofar as records will be available for verification purposes. We expect to process the first payments in Q2 of this year.

The spokesperson added that this process may be delayed while the person decides “if they wish to accept an award offered to them”. In order to receive financial compensation, the person in question must sign a waiver confirming they will not take legal action against the State in the future. 


TDs last year labelled the redress scheme “morally obnoxious” and “callous” because it excludes people who spent less than six months in an institution as a child.

The scheme also does not specifically cater to people who were boarded out as children, a precursor to fostering; people who were subjected to vaccine trials; and people who experienced racism or other discrimination in the system.

Around 34,000 people will be eligible to apply for redress under the scheme, which is estimated to cost around €800 million. However, it’s estimated that around 24,000 survivors are excluded from the scheme.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) yesterday reiterated its call to extend the scheme to all survivors.

Deirdre Malone, Director of IHREC, said: “While we welcome the scheme, we are gravely concerned that some people who were resident in Mother and Baby Institutions or who were boarded out are arbitrarily excluded from redress.

“The scheme must be amended so that all arbitrary criteria, such as the 180 day eligibility rule, does not exclude victims and survivors of relevant institutions from redress.”

The scheme was originally due to open for applications last year but missed this deadline. Anyone with questions about the scheme has been advised to visit the online application portal or call 01 522 9992.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel