Magdalene analysis: promise of ongoing care most valuable to survivors
Pension and medical cover may be worth more than lump sum
Former senator Martin McAleese’s report, published last February, found that 35.6 per cent of the women spent less than three months in a laundry, 47.4 per cent less than six months and 61 per cent less than a year.
In the majority of cases, the lump sums to be awarded will, therefore, not be significantly more than €11,500.
Time matters most
But now, and as has always been the case with this tragic issue, time is what matters most. These payouts much be progressed speedily so that the many elderly women
concerned, and 14 per cent of them are over 80, will be able to spend their remaining years in some comfort.
It will also come as a relief to the women that they are not being pressured to take part in a forum of reconciliation.
For many of them, the thought of meeting members of the religious congregation which ran the laundry where they had been detained is something to be avoided at all costs, however well-intentioned the purpose.
It would be too distressing. Most of the women simply want to get on with their lives and leave it all behind for once and for all. Who can blame them? Who has a right to insist otherwise?
And there was consolation too in the Quirke report for members of the McAleese Committee. Its findings on conditions in the launderies have been upheld by Mr Justice Quirke’s committee.
The McAleese committee was criticised by some for finding that, while conditions in the launderies were “harsh and physically demanding”, and the psychological impact on these women was “undoubtedly traumatic and lasting”, the majority of women who spoke with the committee said the ill-treatment, physical
punishment and abuse prevalent in industrial schools was not something they experienced in the launderies.
The McAleese committee spoke to 60 former residents of the laundries and 58 women in nursing homes under the care of the religious orders.
Also criticised in the McAleese report was its finding that five of the 10 launderies, for which records were available, operated on a “subsistence or close to break-even” basis.
The Irish Times has learned this finding of “subsistence or close to break-even” for all five launderies for which financial records were available, was also made by the accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Cooper. It looked at the records at the request of the McAleese committee.