Religious 'have role in Magdalene payments'


The president of the Law Reform Commission, Mr Justice John Quirke, will make recommendations within three months on supports the State can offer women who were in the Magdalene laundries and in the training centre on Dublin’s Stanhope Street, the Taoiseach has announced.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said last night that when it came to funding such assistance for the women, there was a role “for the religious orders which ran these laundries, to make a fair contribution, along with the taxpayer”.

He said: “These laundries were private businesses, run by those orders, which benefited from the unpaid labour of the women committed to them. The past does not belong to the State alone.”

When Mr Justice Quirke reports, “the Government will establish a fund to assist the women, based on his recommendations,” he said.

Non-adversarial basis

The terms of reference for Mr Justice Quirke were published later last night. These stipulate that he, taking into account the findings of the McAleese report on the Magdalene laundries, would advise on the setting up as early as possible of a scheme to assist the women, and on a non-adversarial basis.

He will advise also on how best a lump sum can be paid to the women while avoiding legal fees and expenses. He will make recommendations on supports such as medical cards, mental health services, counselling services and other welfare needs the women might have.

Industrial schools

He has been asked to take into account payments that may have been paid to some of the women by the redress board due to their being former residents of industrial schools. This was particularly so where there was direct transfer of the women “from an industrial school to a relevant laundry and their time or part of their time spent in a laundry or laundries”.

He will examine the effect, if any, of making an ex-gratia payment to women now living in the UK and how this might be arranged so as not to affect their entitlements to benefits and supports there.

He will advise on what can be done in this State to ensure such ex-gratia payments or supports made to the women do not adversely affect their social welfare entitlements and/or income tax liability.

Mr Justice Quirke retired as a High Court judge in 2012.

At 17, the scrum-half was the youngest person to play international rugby for Ireland. He was appointed to the High Court in 1997, where he dealt with many personal injury cases.

He had a reputation for being particularly sensitive to families and plaintiffs traumatised by cases of death and severe injury.