More than €25m has been paid out to just over 680 Magdalene Laundry survivors under the redress scheme.
It comes as the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) in July raised issues concerning the McAleese Report and its findings. The Ombudsman has also launched an investigation into the “possible maladministration” of the scheme.
Responding to a parliamentary question, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said €25.7m has been paid out as part of the redress scheme to 682 women. A total of 166 of these payments were made to women resident outside the State, with a further four payments expected. Mr Flanagan also said the issue of a memorial garden would be addressed once the compensation process was completed.
“In relation to the memorial garden, the priority for the Government has been to complete the restorative justice compensation process so that the Magdalen women have their lump sum compensation payments, their pension entitlements, their medical cards and other entitlements before addressing other recommendations in the Quirke Report such as the memorial garden,” said Mr Flanagan.
“Some preliminary work has been carried out by officials in my Department in relation to this and the matter will be progressed further in due course.”
The Justice For Magdalenes Research group has raised concerns about the administration of the scheme. Earlier this year, it sent a 14-page letter to the office of the Ombudsman outlining eight areas where it claimed the scheme was not being administered fairly by the Department of Justice.
The department has at all times claimed it is administering the scheme in line with recommendations.
Earlier this month, the Irish Examiner revealed that a prominent US-based academic wrote to the UN on numerous occasions since 2013 claiming that material relating to the Magdalene Laundries located in a Galway archive called some findings of the McAleese Report “into question on a number of rather serious fronts”.
James Smith of Boston College wrote to UNCAT in November 2013 to inform it of an archive of material he had discovered in the Galway Diocesan Archives in the Spring of 2012 which related to the Sisters of Mercy Magdalene Laundry in Galway.
Prof Smith had brought the relevant files to the attention of the McAleese Committee and they were examined by the Committee.
However, documents obtained by the Irish Examiner show that following the publication of the McAleese Report in February 2013 and UNCAT’s subsequent one-year follow-up, Prof Smith wrote to the body’s vice-chair, Felice Gaer, claiming the McAleese Report “fails to adequately reflect, and indeed mischaracterizes, the material in the Galway Diocesan Archive”.
In particular, Prof Smith pointed to financial records he claimed “contradict” the McAleese Report’s conclusions on the profitability of such institutions.
Prof Smith outlined the archive contained correspondence detailing physical abuse and medical neglect.
He pointed to letters by the reverend mother in the 1940s and 1950s to the Bishop justifying disciplinary practices and defending decisions not to release women into the care of their family. The archive also contains evidence of gardaí being called to remove family members from the door of Galway Magdalene Laundry.
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