A COMPENSATION scheme for survivors of the Magdalene laundries will be compassionate and sensitive, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted.
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 register with the Department of Justice from today 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".
It came two weeks after the publication of a report from former senator Martin McAleese, which revealed the state had a hand in 24% of all admissions to laundries.
His inquiry found that 10,000 women were incarcerated in the workhouses, run by nuns from four religious orders for a myriad of reasons - from petty crime to poverty, disability or pregnancy outside marriage.
Girls as young as 11 were stripped of their names and forced to work without pay in the cold, harsh and monastic institutes.
The last laundry closed in 1996, at Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin's north inner city.
Bethany Survivors chairman Derek Leinster said he hoped to see Mr Shatter act on promises to bring justice to the people from the home.
"Alan Shatter's first response to publication of the McAleese Report was to apologise for the delay in recognising the injustice done to them. We now suffer the same delay," he said.
"Now would not be too early to give Bethany survivors