Charlie Flanagan to discuss laundries report with Ombudsman

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan is to meet with the Ombudsman “in the coming weeks” to discuss the findings of his scathing report into the administration of the Magdalene Laundries redress scheme.

It comes as the Irish Examiner revealed earlier this month that seven vulnerable Magdalene Laundries survivors have died without receiving a penny of the redress they were granted in 2013.

It also comes on the back of the Department of Justice missing the deadline to respond to one of the Ombudsman’s key recommendations about the redress scheme.

In a response to a parliamentary question from independent TD Clare Daly, Mr Flanagan confirmed he had considered the findings of the report of the Ombudsman on the Magdalene redress scheme and would meet the ombudsman Peter Tyndall “in the coming weeks” to discuss the matter.

The report, published last November, found the department failed to examine all available evidence when it wrongly refused some Magdalene Laundries survivors access to redress payments.

The department had refused several women access to redress, claiming they were not resident in one of the 12 institutions covered by the scheme.

However, the Ombudsman was provided with evidence that some of the Magdalene laundries were either physically linked to the units where the women lived or were located on the same grounds and were “one and the same institution”.

The report determined that the department gave “undue weight” to evidence supplied by the religious congregations and some of it had been requested and received by the department after the decision to exclude the women was made.

In some cases, just the word of the religious orders was relied on when deciding on applications.

The report also said it was not evident “what weight, if any, was afforded to the testimony of the women and/or their relatives”.

The delay in making redress payments to women who have already been accepted to the scheme but lack capacity to make their own decisions was also severely criticised. 

The investigation found that these women have been left for four years without any money being paid or any steps being taken to put in place a mechanism where it could be paid to them.

Seven of these women have subsequently died without receiving any of the money they were granted.

The department was due to reply to one of the key recommendations by the end of February — that the department fully reconsider, with a view to accepting, the applications of women who worked in one of the listed laundries but who were recorded as having been “admitted” to a training centre or industrial school in the same building, attached to or located on the grounds.

The department has said it is working on a full assessment of the “administrative, resource and legal implications” of the Ombudsman’s recommendation.


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