Magdalene laundry survivors to discuss compensation with Government advisor
Anger as survivors left waiting, then quizzed about current family, work and housing
Seventy five survivors of the notorious Magdalene Laundries are due to meet with Judge John Quirke, the man responsible for advising the Irish government about the level of compensation due to them. Quirke will then reportedly make recommendations concerning their compensation packages.
According to the Irish Examiner, Steven O'Riordan the director of Magdelene Survivors Together group, said that the women want payment for lost wages of around $26,000 a year, up to a maximum of around $260,000.
O'Riordan said the women in the group he represents were in the laundries from two to 60 years.
'We believe that by the women meeting him directly they'll give him a clear message as to what their needs are and to what they want,' he said. 'So we would hope by doing that, and allowing the women this opportunity today, that the Government will then say: 'Well, this is what the women want, and this is what we will give them.'
Frank Buttimer, a lawyer advising some of the women, confirmed this week that 500 women have already applied to have their claims considered by Justice Quirke.
Survivors attending the meetings this week said they are also seeking redress for the pain and suffering they endured while they lived in the Laundries, the last of which closed in 1996.
Maureen O'Sullivan, from Carlow, told RTE she was a child slave in the Good Shepherd laundry in New Ross, County Wexford. Mary McManus, who now lives in Athlone, said she was starved for two years by the Sisters of Charity in Stanhope Street.
Her father had reportedly put her and her sister, Kathleen Jenette, into the laundry on the advice of his sister, a nun who said they would receive training.
Ms McManus said they got no training but instead were made to work for long hours in the Sisters of Charity's industrial laundry for two years.
Her sister Kathleen said the worst part was handling sheets from hospitals' operating theaters.
She said they were forbidden by the nuns to speak and that she was too embarrassed to discuss her experiences later when her mother took her out of the institution and returned home with her to their large family.
Meanwhile O'Riordan criticized Judge Quirke for his handling of the meetings with the survivors. O'Riordan said that the women, who come from many parts of the country, had arrived at Dublin venue at 3.30pm as requested. They were reportedly left waiting for over an hour-and-a-half before Mr Justice Quirke met any of them, however.
O'Riordan said one elderly wheel-chair-bound woman was unable to remain awake as she waited her turn.
He said the women were asked about their current circumstances regarding family, work and housing and not about the kind of compensation scheme they wanted. O'Riordan said that he found this confusing.
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