independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Magdalene survivors seeking up to €200,000 each in compensation

MAGDALENE survivors are seeking up to €200,000 each from the soon-to-be established state compensation fund.

This would include a payment of €20,000 for each year that a woman worked without wages in a Magdalene Laundry – and a lump-sum payment of €50,000 each for psychological damage.

The maximum amount paid to any woman would be capped at €200,000, regardless of how many years she had worked in the laundry.

The Magdalene Survivors Together (MST) group presented its proposals to Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Junior Minister for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch during a 45-minute meeting with them in Dublin.

The group's spokesman, Steven O'Riordan, said these were the "minimum" amounts that they believed the women were entitled to, under the scheme being drawn up by Mr Justice John Quirke.

"If the women are getting less than what they deserve, our group will not be signing up to that," he said.

MST estimates that no more than 1,000 of the 10,000 Magdalene residents are still alive.

This means that the maximum possible cost to the State of their proposal would be €200m.

It is maintaining that there will be no need for the Magdalene survivors to hire individual solicitors if simple compensation rules are put in place.

Advice

But before signing up to the compensation scheme, the group is going to get legal advice from Frank Buttimer.

The well-known Cork solicitor has represented a string of high-profile clients, including journalist Ian Bailey.

Mr Shatter has given the group a guarantee that Magdalene survivors who have already got state compensation will not be excluded from the new scheme – which he hopes to have through Cabinet by June.

The Residential Institutions Redress Board was allowed to compensate for abuse suffered by women in Magdalene Laundries from its €1.3bn fund – as long as they were transferred there from an industrial school.

The Department of Justice said it had got around 400 calls so far about the new Magdalene Laundry Fund. It said the details of how the applications would be processed had yet to be finalised. And it confirmed that it does not have any details of what payments Magdalene survivors got from the compensation scheme for industrial school abuse victims.

Mr Shatter also told MST that the former Bethany Home for unmarried mothers in Dublin – which was described as a Protestant version of the Magdalene Laundries – would not be included in the new compensation scheme.

However, he said consideration would be given to compensating women who had worked in 16 'Mercy Homes', consisting of a vocational training school for girls. These include the training school in Summerhill in Wexford and were run by the Sisters of Mercy.

Irish Independent

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