Seven die in wait for Magdalene laundry redress payments

Seven vulnerable Magdalene laundry survivors have died without receiving a penny of the redress they were granted in 2013.

Seven die in wait for Magdalene laundry redress payments

Justice for Magdalenes Research said it was “devastated” that women had died while awaiting a payment they are entitled to.

The figures were provided to the Oireachtas justice committee by assistant secretary at the Department of Justice, Jimmy Martin.

Mr Martin appeared before the committee in January to discuss the findings of the Ombudsman’s scathing report into the department’s administration of the Magdalene redress scheme.

Mr Martin confirmed that, of the 39 women deemed “as not having the necessary capacity to sign the required legal documents”, seven had “unfortunately” died without receiving any redress payment — despite being accepted to the scheme five years ago.

A further 17 of these women have yet to receive any payment. Three are now in the wards of court process.

In his report in November, Ombudsman Peter Tyndall said these women had been “effectively forgotten” by the department due to a delay in fully enacting the Decision-Making (Capacity) Act, labelling the delay “inexcusable”. He said this was particularly so when Mr Justice Quirke alluded to the delay in his report, while it was also flagged in internal communications within the department.

There are 17 women in this position, nine of whom had spent more than a decade in the institutions and are entitled to the maximum payment of €100,000.

Mr Martin also confirmed that 75 women who were in Magdalene laundries were subject to an interview, as no records could be found showing them having been admitted to a laundry.

Of the 68 of these women who received a redress payment following the interview process, 16 received lump sum payments which were less than what they had claimed for.

Two women received more than they claimed for and the remaining 50 received the amount they claimed for or else they did not receive a specific amount. Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) said it has spent years asking the department to provide independent advocacy services to all the Magdalene survivors still living in settings controlled by the religious orders.

“These women have few, if any, friends or family to ensure that they are empowered to use their entitlements for their own benefit,” said the statement.

“We are devastated for the women who have died without receiving any concrete measures of recompense for their exploitation in Magdalene laundries.”

JFMR also expressed concern about how the formal interviews of 75 women by the Department of Justice were carried out.

“We repeatedly asked the department for information on the format of the interviews,” said the statement.

“However, no details were forthcoming about the process. It is completely unacceptable to subject vulnerable women to interviews such as these without first supplying them and their representatives with full details on what the process will entail, and without ensuring they have access to legal advice.”

The department has yet to fully accept and implement all of the Ombudsman’s recommendations in relation to the redress scheme.

Mr Tyndall stated that in his 10 years as an Ombudsman, he had never come across such an intransigent attitude from a Government department or State agency.

He said the department “absolutely, categorically refused to engage” with the process around accepting and implementing its recommendations.

Independent TD Clare Daly said the department has “a duty to see that there are no more delays and the women who are awaiting redress be awarded payments immediately”.

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