Support package for Magdalene women comes into effect next month

Women to receive medical card and other supports including home help and counselling

Women who worked in the Magdalene laundries and remain resident in Ireland will get a medical card and other supports including home help, counselling and physiotherapy services free of charge from July 1st when the Redress for Women Who Were Resident in Certain Institutions Act comes into force.

Women who worked in the Magdalene laundries and remain resident in Ireland will get a medical card and other supports including home help, counselling and physiotherapy services free of charge from July 1st when the Redress for Women Who Were Resident in Certain Institutions Act comes into force.

 

Women who worked in the Magdalene laundries and remain resident in Ireland will get a medical card and other supports including home help, counselling and physiotherapy services free of charge from July 1st when the Redress for Women Who Were Resident in Certain Institutions Act comes into force.

Payments made by the State to the women will be exempt from means test criteria for services such as nursing home support and the women will not be charged for acute in-patient services.

Women living abroad who were in the launderies are not covered by the Bill and their access to equivalent medical services will be dealt with “on an administrative basis” by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

This is because of the “wide variation of different health systems internationally” according to the Department of Justice.

Announcing the commencement of the Act on Wednesday, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the women would receive all the medical services recommended by Mr Justice Quirke in his report on the Magdalene Laundries.

“The Government has given its commitment to fully implementing all of the recommendations made by Mr. Justice Quirke in his report on the Magdalene Laundries. I am therefore very pleased to announce the commencement of this Act,” she said.

After Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s apology to the Magdalene women in 2013, Mr Justice John Quirke was tasked with designing a restorative justice scheme.

Under the Act, the women will be entitled to GP services; prescribed drugs and surgical appliances; nursing and home help services; dental, ophthalmic and aural services; counselling; chiropody and physiotherapy.

A scheme of ex-gratia payments to women who were in these institutions provides for a payment of between € 11,500 and € 100,000 depending on the length of stay.

According to the Department of Justice, decisions have been made on 86 per cent of applications out of the 776 received to date with € 18 million paid out so far.

Pension-type top up payments of up to €100 weekly, if under pension age, and up to €230.30 weekly when aged 66 or over depending on other State payments are already being made by the Department of Social Protection.

However Steven O’Riordan of Magdalene Survivors Together criticised the package saying it fell ‘far short’ of what Judge Quirke recommended.

“The judge said the women should get the equivalent of the HAA card that gives you direct access to social care workers in the community and direct access to medical treatment without having to wait,” he said.

The Health Amendment Act 1996 (HAA) 1996 card was previously provided to people infected with Hepatitis C as a result of the administration of contamined blood.

The provision of such a card to the women was recommended by Judge Quirke.

What the women are receiving, Mr O’Riordan said, was an advanced medical card which was not the same as the HAA card and did not provide direct access to treatment.

He said a dedicated unit was supposed to have been set up independent of Government and the Department of Justice to advise the women about their compensation packages.

This had not happened, he said, nor had a monument and museum planned for the site of a former Magdalene laundry on Sean McDermott Street in Dublin been erected.

He accused the Government of delaying its construction saying some of the women “would not live to see it”.

On Monday Dr Katherine O’Donnell of the Justice for Magdalenes group, asked the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Geneva to call on the Irish State to establish a “thorough investigation into the Magdalene laundries abuse”.