Offer ‘fair’ says one survivors’ group but another deems it ‘a joke’
Magdalene Survivors Together wants compensation figure trebled
Maureen Sullivan, Mary Smith, Dianne Croghan and Marina Gambold at a press conference by Magdalene Survivors Together to give their response to the Government’s redress scheme. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES
The two main survivors’ groups gave contrasting reactions to the Quirke report, with some former residents warning they may bypass the redress scheme and go to the courts if the compensation package is not improved.
Members of Magdalene Survivors Together said that while the scheme acknowledged loss of earnings, it did not properly address the psychological, physical and emotional abuse experienced in the laundries.
Its director Steven O’Riordan said it believed about €75,000 was a “fair figure” for someone who had spent a year in a laundry, and more than three times the current offer.
The recommendation of €20,500 might compensate for loss of earnings in a year but each person should be entitled to at least double that for psychological and emotional damage, he added.
“There is nothing in this for pain and suffering. If he [Mr Justice Quirke] has taken that into account then the payment is a joke.”
He added the women felt limiting the lump sum to €50,000, with any payment above this coming in the form of weekly payments, was “a form of manipulation and control”.
But Sally Mulready of the Irish Women Survivors Network, which represents around 60 UK-based survivors, said it welcomed the scheme as a “fair, fast and just settlement”.
“We are particularly pleased about the pension element because that gives real confirmation that these women worked”.
Speaking at the Government press centre where the decision was announced, she said “the person I most remember today is Mary Raftery”, the campaigning journalist who championed the issue for 20 years. “She was an inspiration to me, and I want her family to know we are thinking of her today.”
Ms Mulready also called on the religious congregations to make a contribution to the scheme, although she did not want them to be “bullied” into it, “I would like to see them want to respond in a good spirited way to the report”.
Magdalene Survivors Together, which represents 75 survivors, also called on the congregations to contribute.
Maureen Sullivan, one of the group’s members and the youngest known survivor admitted to one of the laundries, said “they need to go back to the drawing board”.
Ms Sullivan (60), who ended up sleeping on the streets in England after she left the laundry in New Ross, recalled that she and others were forced to work from morning till night. “I think Taoiseach Enda Kenny forgot about his ‘dawn of the day to the dark of night’ comment as he cried during his apology to us,” she added.
Diane Croghan, who was at a laundry in Summerhill, Co Wexford, for three years from the age of 10, said she was glad it had been added the list of eligible institutions. But she added: “Nothing will ever compensate really for what we went through. Even afterwards my life was turned upside down . . . Being in a place like that made me a different person.”