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Sunday 24 September 2017

Magdalene victims to get €100,000 payout

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

WOMEN incarcerated in Magdalene Laundries will receive up to €100,000 as part of a redress scheme that could cost the State up to €58m.

Survivors who lived and worked for 10 years or more in the laundries will be entitled to a general payment of €40,000 plus an additional €60,000 for their forced labour.

Women who spent a year in a laundry will be paid €20,500, increasing to €68,500 for those incarcerated for five years. The maximum payment under the planned scheme is €100,000 for women who were in a Magdalene laundry for 10 years or more.

But the scheme has angered some survivors as lump-sum payments for longer term residents will be capped at €50,000, with the remainder released to survivors in tax-free weekly payments until they die.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who unveiled details of the redress scheme as recommended in the Magdalene Commission Report by retired High Court judge John Quirke, described it as "profoundly important".

"Crucially, payment of these sums of money is not dependent on proof of any hardship or abuse," he said, adding that the Government had accepted all of Judge Quirke's recommendations.

Some 59pc of the women who disclosed their age to the commission are over the age of 65. Of 288 women who spoke to the commission, 69pc had spent between one and five years in laundries with almost one in 10 living in the workhouses for 10 years or more.

Magdalene women who secure entry to the scheme must sign a legal waiver that they will not make any further claim against the State.

Mr Shatter has met the four religious congregations which ran the laundries and told them they are expected to contribute to the compensation. But he has not put a figure on how much they are expected to pay.

REJECTED

Meanwhile, women who were held in one of the Magdalene laundries rejected the offer and called on the Government to go back to the drawing board.

Members of Magdalene Survivors Together want all the women detained to be given a basic payment of €50,000 for the emotional and psychological damage suffered, with compensation for work done on top.

Maureen Sullivan, the youngest known survivor admitted to one of the laundries, said women were forced to work from morning 'til night, washing floors from 7.30am, in a laundry throughout the day, and then making rosary beads at night. "I think they totted it up all wrong. They need to go back to the drawing board," she said.

Irish Independent

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