Adoptees from mother and baby homes will ‘fight’ for change to redress scheme

Department claims 34,000 survivors are eligible for redress at a cost of €800m

 Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman: All mothers who spent time in institutions would be eligible for payments ranging from €5,000 to €65,000, depending on how long they were there. Photograph: Maxwells

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman: All mothers who spent time in institutions would be eligible for payments ranging from €5,000 to €65,000, depending on how long they were there. Photograph: Maxwells

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People who were adopted from mother and baby homes say they will “fight” for changes to a new redress scheme, described by some as “discriminatory” and “too little, too late”.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, announcing details of the long-awaited scheme on Tuesday, said all mothers who spent time in institutions would be eligible for payments ranging from €5,000 to €65,000, depending on how long they were there.

The stipulation that children must have spent at least six months in a mother and baby home to qualify for redress, however, has left adoptee survivors “devastated” they say.

Clodagh Malone, founder of Beyond Adoption, said survivors were “at the bottom of the pile again.

“It’s all about politics and the political will is just not there. The Government know a lot of survivors in a few years will be gone. Some of them were hoping to get that few quid to bury themselves… I am just shaking with anger.”

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Under the scheme, there will be an enhanced medical card for everyone who was resident in a home for more than six months, and a 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.

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.

Children who were sent to live with families, or “boarded out” will be ineligible unless they first spent six months in a home. The department acknowledged on Tuesday this would be “very disappointing” for some.

It said the decision had been taken because not all children who were boarded out were subjected to abuse and therefore every application would have to be judged on a “case-by-case basis”. It said the scheme as proposed “does not cater for such individualised assessments”.

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, with payments not expected until 2023. Survivors say this will be “too little, too late” for many, especially ageing mothers, and are calling for interim payments as have been promised to survivors of mother and baby homes in Northern Ireland.

On Monday the Stormont executive announced survivors there would get immediate redress payments, as an inquiry into homes for unmarried mothers is set up.