Religious orders reject Government plea for contribution to €58m Magdalene redress scheme
Survivors will qualify for payments of up to €100,000
Under the redress scheme survivors will receive a tax-free lump sum of up to €100,000 and enhanced State pension entitlements in recognition of their time in Magdalene laundries.
A number of religious congregations have told Minister for Justice Alan Shatter that they will be making no contribution to the Magdalene laundries redress scheme which is expected to cost up to €58 million.
The Irish Times understands at least two orders spoke to the Minister this week to say they were not in a position to make any financial contribution, although they would continue to look after former residents in their care.
At a press conference announcing the redress scheme yesterday, Mr Shatter said “there will be great disappointment in Cabinet if they don’t make a contribution”. Survivors and taxpayers would expect such a gesture, he added.
Under the redress scheme, recommended by a commission headed by Mr Justice John Quirke, survivors will receive payments of up to €100,000 and enhanced State pension entitlements in recognition of their time in Magdalene laundries. *
“Crucially, payment of these sums of money is not dependent on proof of any hardship, injury or abuse,” Mr Shatter said.
Minister of State Kathleen Lynch added that this provision would create “no hierarchy of suffering”.
Up to €58m
While the Ministers said they could not accurately predict total costs, their officials estimated the lump sum payments would be in the range of €34.5 million to €58 million in total, based on more than 600 expected applications.
A woman who spent three months or less in a laundry will receive a lump sum ex gratia payment of €11,500. This rises to €20,500 for one year and €68,500 for five years. The maximum payment is €100,000 for women who were in a laundry for 10 years or more.
Women who are entitled to more than €50,000 through the scheme will receive a €50,000 lump sum plus an annual payment calculated from the remaining sum, to be paid weekly.
To minimise further legal costs, Mr Justice Quirke recommended that before accepting any payment the applicant should agree not to make any further claim against the State, and should have access to independent legal advice.
Mr Shatter said he was in discussions with the Legal Aid Board on how to provide that advice.
Two religious congregations that ran laundries, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy and the Good Shepherd Sisters, issued separate statements yesterday welcoming the report.
Both pointed to their plans to continue caring for women who continued to reside with them after leaving laundries. However, neither would comment on whether it would make a financial contribution to the redress scheme.
It is understood, however, a number of congregations have ruled out this option, pointing, in support of their case, to the McAleese report’s finding that the laundries did not operate at a profit .
Separately, Mr Shatter rejected calls for a fresh inquiry into the laundries, as had been recommended by the the United Nations Committee Against Torture (Uncat) and the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC).
Asked whether there could be further redress schemes involving former clients of religious institutions, Mr Shatter said a number of mother and baby homes operated around the country but these were “in a different situation”.
l The Department of Justice has set up an information line for Magdalene survivors and possible applicants. Contact: 01-4768660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
* This article was edited on Thursday, June 27th, 2013