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Girls in the grounds of a Magdalene Laundry. The Irish government is set to pay $45 million to the victims of these Catholic institutions. Photo by: Google Images

Irish government to pay $45 million to victims of Catholic Magdalene Laundries

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Girls in the grounds of a Magdalene Laundry. The Irish government is set to pay $45 million to the victims of these Catholic institutions. Photo by: Google Images

The Irish government will pay at least €34.5 million ($45 million) to hundreds of survivors of the Catholic-run Magdalene laundries in compensation for years of unpaid labor and public shame.

The Government announced the details of the redress scheme on Wednesday following on from the publication of the McAleese report in February, which found that about 10,000 women passed through the laundries in the Irish Republic between 1922 and 1996.

The scheme was based on recommendations by Mr Justice John Quirke, who was appointed by the Government to devise eligibility criteria. The proposals for compensation are expected to cost the Government in the region of €34.5 to 58 million.

According to BreakingNews.ie, women who were incarcerated for 10 years or more in the Magdalene laundries will be entitled to a general payment of €40,000 ($52,000) plus an additional €60,000 for their forced labour. Women who spent three months or less in a laundry or workhouse will receive a lump-sum payment of €11,500 ($14,953). The maximum payment under the scheme  is €100,000 ($130,000) for women who were in a Magdalene laundry for 10 years or more.

Shatter said he hopes the remuneration and compensation constitutes “a sincere expression of the state’s regret for failing you in the past, its recognition of your current needs, and its commitment to respecting your dignity and human rights as full and equal members of our nation.”

Shatter said: “Crucially, payment of these sums of money is not dependent on proof of any hardship, injury or abuse.”

He added that the Government has accepted all Judge Quirke’s recommendations.
Shatter announced plans that a  memorial park will also be dedicated to the Magdalene survivors.

“The former residents of the Magdalene laundries have travelled a hard, long and emotional journey,” he said.

“They have done so with vision, courage and a sense of purpose. It has been my privilege and pleasure to meet with many of them over the years.”

Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFM Research), the survivor advocacy group, welcomed the publication of the redress scheme.

Other recommendations made by Judge Quirke include:

- Magdalene women will be granted free access to services – including GP, hospital care, drugs and dental counselling – by way of an enhanced medical card.

-All Magdalene women who have reached pensionable age will have income equivalent to the state contributory pension.

- Those who have not reached pensionable age will have income of 100 euro per week.

-All cash payments will be exempt from income tax and other taxes and will not be taken into account in means testing for social welfare or other benefits.

-A dedicated unit will be created to provide advice and support, assistance in meeting with religious congregations and social opportunities to meet other such women.

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