550 women come forward for Magdalene compensation
THE number of Magdalene Laundry survivors who have come forward for a new compensation scheme has now reached 550.
The numbers getting in touch with the Department of Justice's special helpline have steadily climbed from an initial 200 earlier in the week.
A compensation fund is being set up as a result of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's historic state apology to the women for the ordeal they had suffered.
The Magdalene Survivors Together group wants 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.
But the Cabinet is not going to decide on the size of the compensation payments until it receives a report from Law Reform Commission Judge John Quirke in three months.
It has also emerged that Justice Minister Alan Shatter is going to rely on state records to ensure that compensation payments are only given to genuine Magdalene survivors.
There are very little or no records available for two of the 10 Magdalene Laundries which operated in the State between 1922 and 1996.
There is no surviving register of residents for the laundry in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin and only "partial records" for who was resident in the laundry in Galway. Both were operated by the Sisters of Mercy.
Mr Shatter has told Magdalene survivors that he expects to be able to use other state records – such as court records or industrial school records – to establish that the women were there.
But even then, this will be difficult because around three- quarters of women referred to Magdalene Laundries were sent there by their families, by priests or were admitted voluntarily.