Survivors of mother and baby homes will receive redress of up to €65,000 as part of a new scheme agreed by Cabinet on Tuesday.
There will be another work-related payment for women who were resident in certain institutions for more than three months and who undertook what might be termed commercial work. These payments will range from €1,500 to €60,000.
The general payments range from €5,000 for those who spent less than three months in an institution to €65,000 for survivors who spent 10 years or more in an institution.
The scheme will provide financial payments and an enhanced medical card to defined groups.
The Department of Children said 34,000 survivors would be eligible for the financial payments at an estimated cost of €800 million.
Some 19,000 people will be eligible for an enhanced medical card. Survivors who now live abroad will also qualify for a payment.
Applications for the scheme will open in late 2022 after it is legislated for and the Government has said the scheme will be “non-adversarial”.
All mothers who spent time in a mother and baby institution will be eligible for a payment, with the amount increasing based on their length of stay.
All children who spent six months or more in an institution, and who did not previously receive redress, will be eligible for payment based on their length of stay.
The Government is also planning to create a national memorial and records centre.
Announcing the scheme, the department said applicants would qualify solely based on proof of residency without a need to bring forward any evidence or abuse or medical evidence. In certain limited circumstances, sworn affidavits will be required.
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said such affidavits would be required in cases where there were no records available about an institution. Every survivor who received redress would be asked to sign a waiver at the end of the process to state that they would not take further legal action but it was “not a gag”, he said.
Elderly and vulnerable
Addressing questions about the length of time it would take survivors to receive a payment, given the scheme will not be operational until at least late 2022, Mr O’Gorman said elderly people and vulnerable people would be prioritised.
He also said he asked religious congregations for a “substantial” contribution towards the scheme but that full negotiations had yet to begin.
The department estimates about 25 per cent of survivors are living outside of Ireland, mainly in the UK and United States. They will be offered a €3,000 payment in lieu of a medical card, if they wish to take that instead.
When the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation released its final report earlier this year, survivors criticised its findings and recommendations as well as the tone of certain sections. In the summer, Mr O’Gorman said he was looking to bring in an independent expert to look again at the testimony of women and other survivors.
Some survivors said there were inaccuracies in how their evidence had been recorded.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Mr O’Gorman said work was ongoing with the Attorney General to progress this, and that this “piece of work” would be “central” to the final historical record.