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422 former Magdalene residents apply to state fund

MORE than 420 former residents of the Magdalene Laundries have applied to be included in a state compensation fund.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice's special helpline has received almost 1,100 calls about the fund since it was established last month.

The department invited former residents to register a preliminary expression of interest in receiving benefits from the fund and so far 424 women have registered their interest.

They were asked to give details of which laundry they were resident in, the dates when they were there and whether they have any records to support their application.

Ten Magdalene Laundries and St Mary's Stanhope Street, a laundry that operated in the Religious Sisters of Charity's training centre, are covered by the fund.

In cases where laundry records are not available to verify that an applicant was a one-time resident, state records, including court records and those from industrial schools, will be used.

Damage

Mr Justice John Quirke has been asked to advise the Government on the establishment of the fund and is due to report back in mid-May.

The Magdalene Survivors Together group wants a payment of €20,000 for each year that a woman worked without wages in a Magdalene laundry as well as a lump-sum payment of €50,000 each for psychological damage. It said the maximum amount paid to any woman would be €200,000.

The Cabinet will not decide on the size of compensation payments until it receives Mr Justice Quirke's report. However, junior health minister Kathleen Lynch has already indicated that the Government will be unable to afford a huge bill running to over €100m.

She said former residents should receive a range of supports for their needs as well as financial compensation.

Irish Independent