Long-standing Magdalene redress complaints to be resolved pledges Charlie Flanagan

Justice Minister, Charlie Flanagan, has committed to resolving long-standing complaints from Magdalene Laundry survivors that they have been denied medical benefits promised as part of the Government's redress scheme.
Long-standing Magdalene redress complaints to be resolved pledges Charlie Flanagan
Charlie Flanagan
Charlie Flanagan

Justice Minister, Charlie Flanagan, has committed to resolving long-standing complaints from Magdalene Laundry survivors that they have been denied medical benefits promised as part of the Government's redress scheme.

The first volume of a report into the key findings from a listening exercise carried out with hundreds of Magdalene survivors as part of the Dublin Honours Magdalenes event in 2018, revealed that the women "repeatedly" highlighted that the Health Card promised by the Government as part of the redress scheme has not been delivered.

The Quirke Report advised that the State should provide health services equivalent to those provided under the HAA card, which was given in the 1990s to people who contracted Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products.

"Magdalene survivors accepted the terms and conditions of the scheme and signed away their right to sue the State on the promise of an enhanced health service. However, ultimately the benefits offered to them are essentially nothing more than the routine healthcare service offered to state medical cardholders, which most of them already have due to their low income or advanced age," states the report.

It was also noted that survivors living outside of Ireland had also expressed frustration at the failure to deliver healthcare benefits to women in the diaspora. The report pointed out that some women "did not know they were entitled to such a benefit in the first place".

The issue of the enhanced medical card promised under the redress scheme has been highlighted repeatedly by the Justice For Magdalenes group since the redress scheme was introduced in 2013.

Mr Flanagan said he has noted the view of the survivors in the report and has instructed officials in his department to liaise with the Department of Health "to bring about a resolution to this matter". He also said he is committed to any project which would create a place of reflection and memorial for survivors.

Issues around the Magdalene redress scheme have been repeatedly highlighted by the Irish Examiner.

In 2017, the Ombudsman published a scathing report following an almost year-long investigation into how the Department of Justice administered the Magdalene redress scheme.

The report that some Magdalene laundry survivors had been wrongly refused access to the scheme and that it had been maladministered by the Department.

Central to the investigation was evidence uncovered by the Irish Examiner and reported in June 2015.

In February of last year, the Irish Examiner further highlighted the cases of 14 women who were in the An Grianán training centre and also worked in the High Park Magdalene laundry in Dublin, which was located in the same building. They had yet to receive an offer of redress despite being accepted to the widened scheme.

The women had learned that a potential reason for the 1980 cut-off point is a claim that a separate laundry was constructed at An Grianán that year and that no girls were sent to work in the main laundry as a result.

However, the Irish Examiner obtained documents showing that this laundry was constructed “in the early months of 1984” at a cost of £17,001.

In April, the Department made arrangements to grant the affected women the redress payment.

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