A Government-agreed compensation scheme for women who worked in a Magdalene laundry has been rejected by the campaign group Magdalene Survivors Together.
“Why can’t the Minister for Justice just make a full payment to the women? It seems that the Government don’t want to treat the women with dignity,” said Steven O’Riordan, director of Magdalene Survivors Together.
Under the scheme, eligible women will be entitled to a tax-free lump sum payment of between €11,500 and €100,000, depending on how long they were in the laundry.
However, amounts over €50,000 are to be paid in weekly instalments, as recommended by Mr Justice John Quirke.
Mr Justice Quirke recommended that eligible women should also receive top-up payments to bring their income from the State up to €100 if under 66 years and to the equivalent of the State contributory pension (€230.30) for those over 66 years.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter announced yesterday that the Government had agreed the details on how the judge’s recommendations should be implemented. He said arrears would be paid from last August.
Mr Shatter said his department had already encouraged women to submit applications and around 600 had been received to date.
He said the processing of 250 were at an advanced stage and hoped offers of payment would be issued over the next four to six weeks.
However, if an individual accepts the provisional offer, a waiver will have to be signed before the payment of the lump sums can be made.
Mr O’Riordan said some survivors would not want to be identified as somebody who once worked in a Magdalene laundry when they, or someone on their behalf, went to collect the extra payment at their local post office.
He also questioned why the payments were being backdated to August, not June, when the recommendations were published.
Mr O’Riordan said people were fooling themselves if they thought that the women had been looked after — just because a judge had recommended the payments did not make it all right.
“Women were recommended to go into the Magdalene Laundries, the mother and baby homes and industrial schools,” he said.
“We learned that was not the right thing to do.”
Mr O’Riordan said the campaign group has raised a number of issues in a letter that it had sent to the Department of Justice two weeks ago.
In particular, the group has raised a number of concerns in relation to those women who decide not to take up the offer and take a case against the State.
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