Stanhope St women to get assistance
Women who spent time in the residential laundry in Stanhope Street in Dublin will now be included in the fund established by the Government to assist the Magdalene women.
All survivors in the included laundries can contact the Department of Justice from today to register their interest in being considered for benefits or supports from the fund, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said.
“We are determined that the money in question will be solely for the benefit of the women, not for the legal profession or others.”
An initial €250,000 from the fund will be given to the Step by Step Centre for Irish Survivors of Industrial Schools and Laundries to be established in Britain. During the Dáil debate in which Taoiseach Enda Kenny, in an emotional address, apologised to the women who spent time in the laundries, the Minister outlined how the fund would operate.
Mr Shatter said the largest single group of women who had come forward were based in Britain and represented by the Irish Survivors’ Advice and Support Network, who worked with more than 2,000 women. This group would operate the Step by Step centre which would be a “holistic and person-centred service”.
He said the stories of certain women in the laundry in Stanhope Street, Dublin, reflected the stories of women in the Magdalene laundries, and these women would be included. He also said the women should “now consider the nature and location of a memorial they would deem suitable”.
The needs of individual women varied considerably and “the Government wishes to have a system in place that will be open and transparent and at the same time will avoid a complicated administrative system”.
Mr Justice John Quirke, president of the Law Reform Commission, would have three months to examine how best to provide supports to the women, the operation of the fund and the nature and amount of payments to be made from the fund.
In his address the Taoiseach described the treatment of women in the Magdalene laundries as “a national shame’. He said he was deeply sorry and offered his “full and heartfelt apologies’’ to the women.
He said the Magdalene laundries were reserved for “what was offensively and judgmentally called fallen women’’. The women, he said, were wholly blameless.
The women deserved more than a formal apology, said Mr Kenny as he announced the fund to be established and its operation determined by Mr Justice Quirke. He would assess the criteria for payments and supports including medical cards, psychological and counselling services and other welfare needs.
“I am confident that this process will enable us to provide speedy, fair and meaningful help to the women in a compassionate and non-adversarial way,’’ Mr Kenny added.
He received a sustained round of applause from TDs and a packed public gallery. Then TDs gave a standing ovation to the Magdalene survivors in the gallery.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore joined the Taoiseach in offering “a heartfelt apology to the survivors of the Magdalene laundries”.
He said no apology, no matter how sincere, could erase what happened. “We cannot turn back the clock and undo what was done to so many.”