€23m in redress paid to Magdalene laundry survivors

Some 624 women held in Magdalene laundries have to date received a lump sum payment of more than €23m under a government redress scheme.

The payments work out at an average of €36,858.

According to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, some 807 applications have been received under the Magdalene Laundries Restorative Justice Ex-Gratia Scheme.

She said 103 applications were refused, as the women had not been admitted to one of the 12 specified institutions.

Ms Fitzgerald said 11 applications were received from women who are now resident in the US.

“Eight of these women have received their lump- sum payments and the other three applications were refused as the women had not been admitted to a relevant institution,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

A number of women who claim they were used as forced labour in High Park Magdalene laundry in Dublin, but who have been excluded from the redress scheme, launched a High Court challenge to the decision last year.

The basis for excluding the women was that, although it was accepted they worked at the High Park Magdalene laundry, they were not admitted to it.

They had been admitted to An Grianán Institution, which was on the grounds of the convent laundry.

The case followed revelations in the Irish Examiner that evidence that An Grianán and High Park Magdalene Laundry were “one and the same thing” was uncovered by the HSE in 2012.

The revelation was contained in a memo sent from the then assistant director of the Children and Family Services, Phil Garland, to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs representative on the McAleese committee, Denis O’Sullivan, and Gordon Jeyes, the national director of the Children and Family Services at the HSE, on June 26, 2012, while the HSE was examining the laundries issue as part of the McAleese inquiry.

Mr Garland points out that the HSE had uncovered evidence that showed “quite categorically” that An Grianán and High Park Magdalene Laundry were “one and the same thing”.

However, despite the revelation, Ms Fitzgerald reiterated the view that An Grianán “served a different purpose” to High Park Magdalene laundry, and stated it had already been included Residential Institutions Redress Board Scheme.

Two other institutions not previously considered laundries — St Mary’s Training Centres in Stanhope St, Dublin; and Summerhill in Wexford — were included in the redress scheme.

Justice for Magdalene Research has pointed out that not all residents knew they were entitled to compensation under the previous redress scheme and has accused the Government of denying justice to victims of forced labour.

The group has also been extremely critical of the legislation brought in last year to provide survivors with access to a range of primary and community health services free of charge as recommended in the Magdalen Commission Report by retired High Court Judge and president of the Law Reform Commission, Mr Justice John Quirke.

Justice for Magdalene Research has said that the provisions do not provide the women with the same range of drugs and services made available to Health (Amendment) Act cardholders as promised.


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