The Shame of Ireland
Sir, – The authors of “Broken promises and delays for Magdalenes” (Opinion, February 6th) make the serious charges of delay, subterfuge and broken promises relating to the implementation of the ex-gratia scheme established by Government for the benefit of women who resided and worked in the Magdalene Laundries. I would like to set the record straight.
Just three months after taking office as Minister, I sought and received, in June 2011, Government approval to establish an interdepartmental group, chaired by (then) Senator Martin McAleese to establish the facts, insofar as was possible, relating to the Laundries.
Senator McAleese’s comprehensive report was published in February 2013 and was followed by an apology by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny to the Magdalene women on behalf of the State. Mr Justice John Quirke was asked by Government to make recommendations on an ex-gratia scheme to be established to meet the needs of the women concerned. He reported in May 2013 and all of his recommendations were accepted by Government in June. A team of civil servants was tasked with devising the most practical and expeditious methods of implementing the recommendations and reported to Government in October 2013.
To date, nine out of Judge Quirke’s 12 recommendations have been or are presently being implemented; two require legislation which is currently under preparation. The remaining recommendation (No 6) relates to longer term issues which will be addressed on completion of the processing of applications to the Scheme (the full Quirke report is available on www.justice.ie ).
Among his recommendations, Judge Quirke set out a schedule of payments to be made to the women concerned and, to date, 684 applications have been received and 300 letters of formal offer and a further 32 provisional assessments have been issued; 206 women have accepted the formal offer; and payments totalling over €5.6 million have so far been made.
The authors of the Opinion piece also mention being in touch with many women who feel “confused and anxious” about the scheme’s “opaqueness”. There is a team of nine people in my department whose sole task is to help the women with their applications and answer their queries. This includes, I should add, reassuring women who telephoned subsequent to the February 6th piece, unnecessarily worried, having read it, that they would not receive money due to them under the scheme.
The authors of the Opinion piece seem also to suggest that it is unfair that each woman has to sign a waiver before acceptance into the Scheme but do not mention that it was Judge Quirke himself who recommended that such waiver should form part of the scheme. Moreover, to ensure that the waiver is fully understood, an amount of up to €500 (plus VAT) is provided to pay for independent legal advice for any woman who wishes to seek such advice prior to signing the waiver.
146 applicants currently reside abroad and 90 per cent of these live in the UK. A grant of €250,000 has been made to the UK-based Women Survivors Support Network to provide advice and support to those resident there. A recent letter received by me from Sally Mulready, who has worked for many years with Magdalen women in the UK, states: “We are having an excellent response from the women themselves who appreciate very much that this is a generous settlement and the work to bring their claims to fruition is fast and efficient.”
With regard to the provision of medical services, Judge Quirke does not state that the women should receive private health care. He recommended they should have access to the same range of services as enjoyed by holders of the Health (Amendment) Act 1996 card. The necessary legislation is included on the priority list of the Government Legislation Programme for the spring/summer 2014. Details of exactly what services will be provided, and where and how they will be provided is being determined by the Department of Health.
This Government, unlike its predecessors, responded in a prompt, considered and practical way to the issue of the Magdalene Laundries.
Had I acceded, in 2011, to the demands of various groups who called for a statutory inquiry into the Magdalene Laundries, I have little doubt that a report would still be awaited and the final cost to Irish taxpayers of the inquiry alone, would have exceeded the cost of the ex gratia scheme currently under implementation. – Yours, etc,
ALAN SHATTER TD,
Minister for Justice, Equality
St Stephen’s Green,
Dublin 2.Source - http://www.irishtimes.com/debate/letters/payments-for-magdalene-wom...
Something is not right here...Magdalen women were locked away in Psychiatric Institutions ...I can`t see these poor victims getting Redress unless the Mrental Institutions are included in Redress.One detainee J.M are her initials was locked away at St Luke`s Clonmel and she told me that she was in the Magdalens. From what she said it appeared that she did shoplifting in UK and was sent to St Luke`s Clonmel to be locked away.
No one knows how many others were locked away in Mental Institutions in Ireland who had a history of the Magdalens. St Luke`s Clonmel had their own laundry when I was made to work there washing the urine soaked sheets I had to work from 9am till dark night no one saved a dinner for me I was left to go hungry Rosaleen