Just 33% of Magdalene survivors get redress

Less than one-third of Magdalene Laundry survivors have received compensation from the State — one year after Taoiseach Enda Kenny apologised to victims in the Dáil.

The Department of Justice has said it has received 684 applications from women who were incarcerated in Magdalene Laundries run by the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Charity, the Good Shepherd Sisters, and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity.

The department has issued 300 letters of formal offer and another 32 provision assessments have been issued. A total of 206 women have accepted the formal offer and payments of €5.6m have been issued.

None of the 684 applicants have, to date, received their statutory, old-age pensions or health care benefits.

The Department of Justice has said it is currently finalising the drafting of the necessary legislation to provide the medical provisions recommended in the Quirke report.

Steven O’Riordan, Magdalene Survivors Together, expressed concern that survivors were being offered lesser amounts of compensation than they were entitled to due to the records of the Orders not matching the accounts of the women in terms of duration of stay.

“Some women are being offered amounts reflecting months spent in a laundry rather than years they say they were there. Why is the word of the Orders taken when McAleese himself acknowledged there were gaps in the records? These women’s stories have been consistent for almost a decade we have been campaigning. The Taoiseach himself said he believed the women in his apology, yet it’s the Orders word that is taken,” he said.

Mr O’Riordan said the processing of applications for redress should have been done by an independent body as currently all the women have gotten from the Department of Justice is “delay after delay”.

Sally Mulready of the Irish Women’s Support Network (IWSN) in Britain said she believed the Government is doing its “level best” to process the applications as quickly as possible.

“To be perfectly honest, it took 14 years for any action to be taken. All those years of asking the questions and knocking on doors to try and even get an acknowledgement and one year after the apology, look at where we are. It’s a slow process but speeding through this isn’t always helpful. My experience on the ground is that everybody from the Taoiseach to the Department of Justice are doing their level best to process the applications as quickly as possible,” she said.

Ms Mulready said it was important to look at the wider issue of how far the campaign had come and said survivors based in Britain are “really pleased” with the progress to date, but acknowledged that the issue of pensions had not been resolved yet.

Head of Outreach with the National Womens Council of Ireland Rachel Doyle said the Government has “failed to deliver” on many of the elements it promised to survivors.

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