Scheme 'may exclude Magdalenes'

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson has written to the Minister for Justice asking him to establish an inquiry into the Bethany Home. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson has written to the Minister for Justice asking him to establish an inquiry into the Bethany Home. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Thu, Feb 21, 2013, 00:00

Doubts have emerged on whether Magdalene women who have previously received compensation because they resided in industrial schools or other institutions will qualify for further payment under the new scheme.

The president of the Law Reform Commission, Mr Justice John Quirke is to recommend criteria to be applied when assessing provision in terms of “payments” and supports such as medical cards and counselling services to the Magdalene women.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman said the issue of further compensation for women who were sent to the laundries from industrial schools – and were thus compensated by the State Redress Board – “will be considered by Judge Quirke”.

However, Minister of State for Trade Joe Costello said: “I think they should be dealt with in the context of the Magdalenes. They shouldn’t be excluded.”

Bethany Home

Separately, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clark said he had written to the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter asking him to establish an inquiry into the Bethany Home, a Protestant-run home for unmarried mothers and their children.

However, the Government has ruled out the Magdalene redress scheme being extended to former residents of the home. Taoiseach Enda Kenny stressed it was not a laundry, “but dealt with the health and welfare of young women and their children”.

Mr Shatter and Minister of State for Equality Kathleen Lynch were aware of the issues involved and were “looking at this matter”, according to a Department of Justice spokeswoman.

Support groups for the Magdalene women said it would be difficult to quantify the number of women who received compensation through the Redress Board – but Claire McGettrick of Justice for Magdalenes said it would be “at least dozens”.

She said “without exception” every woman she had spoken to who had dealt with the Redress Board had been told “not to speak” about being compensated for time spent in laundries. “One woman told me that her solicitor just drew a red line through her time in the laundry.”

‘Separate issue’

Steven O’Riordan of Magdalene Survivors Together also said women who went through the Redress Board were “consistently told” it was a “completely separate issue” – and that the laundries were “of no consequence in terms of what they would be paid by the Redress Board”.

He said it would be “bizarre” if women who went through the Redress Board were to be treated differently.All members of his organisation were to be represented by Frank Buttimer Solicitors – with whom they were to meet, together with Mr Shatter, today.

“We will be sitting down to go through the terms of reference and what’s being laid out. None of those in our group will be signing up to anything if the terms of reference don’t suit what we have laid out,” he said. “Our proposal is that the women get paid for loss of wages as well as a lump sum to cover the aggravation and emotional and physical neglect people suffered.”

President Michael D Higgins yesterday welcomed Mr Kenny’s apology to those who had spent time in the laundries, and his announcement of a fund to assist the women.

Mr Higgins described as “very generous” Mr Kenny’s address. “I know the emotional strength with which it was delivered and I’m even more pleased that those who were affected, the women, were very pleased with it,” he said.

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