Compensation may be awarded case by case

Mon, Feb 18, 2013, 00:00

Compensation amounts for Magdalene laundry survivors may be awarded on a case-by-case basis, it has emerged.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch yesterday said the Government would appoint someone with whom victims could interact and who would assess survivors’ needs on an individual basis.

“What we have decided is that the person who would have both the competence and the compassion and the expertise will be asked to deal with the issue,” the Minister said.

“That person will be asked to put in place a framework where women can interact with that person and their team and we will then look at what needs to be put in place.”

Advocacy group

The approach appears at odds with submissions from two survivors groups which seek minimum settlements for survivors.

Under proposals from advocacy group Justice for Magdalenes (JFM), any woman who spent time in a laundry would automatically pass a minimum threshold of demonstrated abuse, entitling her to a sum of €100,000. The group is also seeking a pension scheme for survivors.

Spokeswoman Katherine O’Donnell said the figure, first submitted to Government in October 2011, took into account that participating women would effectively be ceding any right to pursue their claim through the courts.

She said applicants demonstrating additional suffering such as neglect or physical, emotional or sexual abuse should be entitled to apply for more.

JFM is also seeking a separate payment of unpaid wages, commensurate with the time spent working.

She said between 800 and 1,000 survivors could be recipients under the scheme.

Additional State funding for a Names Project and a Magdalene Archival and Oral History project is also sought, along with a national memorial.

Magdalene Survivors Together spokesman Steven O’Riordan said his group, which represents 34 survivors, had also submitted a compensation proposal comprising both a lump sum and lost wages.

“One would be a minimum of about €50,000 and that would take into account being incarcerated and psychological, physical and emotional damage,” he said.

Payment of wages

Regarding payment of wages he said: “If you were there for three months you would be given €5,000 and if you were there for year, it would be €20,000.” He said the proposal was first submitted in March 2011 and reiterated in meetings with Senator Martin McAleese.

Mr O’Riordan the entire package put forward by his group would total “about €200 million”.