Magdalene Laundries compensation plan revealed

Survivors of Catholic-run workhouses will be paid up to €100,000 as part of a Government compensation scheme.

Women who were incarcerated for 10 years or more in the Magdalene laundries will be entitled to a general payment of €40,000 plus an additional €60,000 for their forced labour.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who unveiled the details of a redress scheme as recommended by retired High Court judge John Quirke, described it as “profoundly important”.

“Today is about justice,” he said.

Any woman who spent three months or less in a laundry or workhouse will receive a lump-sum payment of €11,500.

The amount increases depending on time spent in the laundries.

The Religious Sisters of Charity, one of the orders to run laundries, were the first to respond.

“We reiterate our commitment to provide available records and information to any of our past residents and also our willingness to arrange to meet any of the women who wish to avail of such a meeting,” the order said.

Women who spent a year in a laundry will be paid €20,500.

That increases to €68,500 to women who were incarcerated for five years.

The maximum payment is €100,000 for women who were in a Magdalene laundry for 10 years or more.

Mr Shatter said: “Crucially, payment of these sums of money is not dependent on proof of any hardship, injury or abuse.”

Women who are entitled to more than €50,000 through the scheme will receive a €50,000 lump sum, plus an annual payment calculated from the remaining sum, which would be paid weekly.

Mr Shatter confirmed arrangements have been put in place by the Department of Justice to start processing applications for the scheme immediately.

He also said the Government has accepted all Judge Quirke’s recommendations.

A memorial park will also be dedicated to the Magdalene women, Mr Shatter said.

“The former residents of the Magdalene laundries have travelled a hard, long and emotional journey,” he said.

“They have done so with vision, courage and a sense of purpose. It has been my privilege and pleasure to meet with many of them over the years.”

The minister said the cost to the state for the redress scheme could be in the region of 34.5 to 58 million euro.

He said he hopes the remuneration and compensation constitutes “a sincere expression of the state’s regret for failing you in the past, its recognition of your current needs, and its commitment to respecting your dignity and human rights as full and equal members of our nation”.

Other recommendations made by Judge Quirke include:

* Magdalene women will be granted free access to services – including GP, hospital care, drugs and dental counselling – by way of an enhanced medical card.

* All Magdalene women who have reached pensionable age will have income equivalent to the state contributory pension.

* Those who have not reached pensionable age will have income of 100 euro per week.

* All cash payments will be exempt from income tax and other taxes and will not be taken into account in means testing for social welfare or other benefits.

* A dedicated unit will be created to provide advice and support, assistance in meeting with religious congregations and social opportunities to meet other such women.

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