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Thursday 21 August 2014

Kenny vows 'compassionate' redress

Published 20/02/2013 | 14:21

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Enda Kenny confirmed the Justice Minister was 'looking at the question' of payments for survivors of a Protestant-run home for unmarried mothers

A compensation scheme for survivors of the Magdalene laundries will be compassionate and sensitive, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted.

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As thousands of women who were incarcerated in the Catholic-run workhouses let the Taoiseach's tearful state apology sink in, they were assured the redress plan would be fair and balanced.

The Taoiseach also confirmed Justice Minister Alan Shatter was "looking at the question" of payments for survivors of Bethany House - a Protestant-run home for unmarried mothers.

"Not being adversarial, not being a gravy train for those who might assume so from a legalistic point of view - that's a very strong wish and a very strong desire expressed by the women who were in the Magdalene laundries, and that's what we want to try to achieve here," Mr Kenny said.

Survivors can now register with the Department of Justice to ensure they are included in the compensation scheme.

Under terms of reference published by the Government, president of the Law Reform Commission Judge John Quirke will carry out a three-month review and make recommendations on payments.

Mr Kenny insisted the judge would devise a scheme that ensured money went straight to the women and not the lawyers. Other supports would be made available under the scheme, including medical cards, psychological and counselling services, and other welfare needs.

"What we've tried to do here in these terms of reference is to be simple, effective, non-adversarial, non-litigious, and at the same time, as fair and balanced as possible," Mr Kenny said. He added this would be dealt with as "comprehensively, sensitively and compassionately" as possible for the survivors. "We do not want this being bandied about in a way that might have a devastating impact on them," he said.

Magdalene survivors praised Mr Kenny for his emotional apology in the Dail on Tuesday night. He choked back tears as he described the laundries as the "nation's shame" and accepted the state's direct involvement.

The women, who wept and watched from the public gallery, were applauded after Mr Kenny's eagerly awaited apology, which they claimed finally vindicated them. They said the state apology finally removed the stigma attached to them, after years of being regarded as "fallen women".

Press Association

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