Compensation for women excluded from Magdalene Laundries scheme would be €5m: Ombudsman

Compensation for women excluded from Magdalene Laundries scheme would be €5m: Ombudsman

It would cost up to €5m euro to compensate women who were excluded from a scheme for survivors of Magdalene laundries, it has been revealed.

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall said less than half the 54 million euro originally estimated for redress for the incarceration in Catholic-run workhouses has been paid out.

Some 106 women have been refused payments because officials found they were not put in one of 12 specific institutions.

Mr Tyndall gave a scathing review of the Government's attitude to women who he said were entitled to compensation for being incarcerated in associated or linked facilities, such as An Grianan, in the grounds of High Park laundry in Drumcondra, Dublin.

He told the Oireachtas Justice Committee the eligibility criteria for the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme, set up in 2013 after women got a state apology, was too narrow.

He warned that he has still not got a formal commitment from the Government that all recommendations from last year's report on the administration of the redress scheme will be implemented.

"We are talking about women who went down the stairs, the same stairs, as women who had access to the scheme and who worked in the laundries that were part of the scheme," he said.

"Women continue to die without access to the redress to which they are undeniably entitled. There is no doubt about that."

Mr Tyndall said that in his 10 years as an ombudsman he has never experienced a similar attitude from a Government department and a refusal to engage on his findings.

The Department of Justice said it had received 830 applications from women who were incarcerated in 12 specific Magdalene laundries.

It said 686 women have been paid 25.7 million euro in lump sum payments and 258,000 euro in legal costs. The figure does not include pension payments and medical card costs.

There are another 17 women, mostly still in the care of the religious orders who once housed them in Magdalene laundries, who do not have the capacity to apply to the scheme themselves.

Mr Tyndall called for them to be made wards of court and for the Department of Justice to make proactive approaches to identify them all and include them in the compensation scheme.

The ombudsman's office said it was aware of at least 32 women who have been wrongly refused payouts, pension rights and free healthcare.

It estimated it would cost 3 million to 5 million euro to include these women in the compensation scheme.

Mr Tyndall told the committee: "Women continue to contact staff in my office and the point they make is this - 'I worked in these laundries. I washed the soiled sheets of the prisoners in Mountjoy. The women who worked alongside me have received redress. Why have I been excluded?'"

The committee also heard that Dublin City Council intended to develop a memorial garden in Sean McDermott Street, the site of the last workhouse to close.

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