Finally, an apology – but what now for survivors?

Claire Murphy

THE Department of Justice opens its doors today to the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries to apply for State compensation.

The 800 to 1,000 women are invited to register their details for the so-called 'ex-gracia' payment for their enforced time in the workhouses.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted that the State had wronged the residents and payments will be made for their years of unpaid work up until as late as the 1990s.


The report compiled by Senator Martin McAleese found there was State involvement in sending the women to the laundries.

Last night, survivors broke down in tears as they listed to the emotional apology from the Taoiseach and applauded words they had waited a lifetime to hear.

There will be an initial €250,000 payment towards counselling for the majority of survivors, who are now living in Britain. The support scheme will include those women who worked without pay in the Stanhope Street laundry in Dublin.

It is understood there is no final figure on the amount of money to be set aside for the fund, but a report on the specific needs of the women will be carried out by Judge John Quirke, president of the Law Reform Commission.

However, the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has outlined that the Government does not want to see the money wasted on legal fees.

The Government is keen to make sure that the moneys of the fund benefit applicants and not lawyers, as was the case with the industrial schools legal cases.

People should register their details with the Department of Justice on 01-476 8649. People can also write to: Magdalene Laundry Fund, c/o Department of Justice and Equality, Montague Court, Montague Street, Dublin 2.

See Terry Prone, Page 16