Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Magdalene group awaits scheme plans

Steven O'Riordan from Magdalene Survivors Together speaks at a press conference in Dublin
Steven O'Riordan from Magdalene Survivors Together speaks at a press conference in Dublin

Survivors of the Magdalene laundries have said they expect to be told details of a compensation scheme alongside an anticipated state apology by the Government.

Steven O'Riordain, of the Magdalene Survivors Together group, said their demands are the same as they have always been.

He said: "From our understanding, there will be an official state apology. I assume there will be detail on a process to get up and running a restorative scheme."

A number of survivors are to attend the Dail on Tuesday to hear the apology in person.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the Government will make "very specific announcements" to address the issues raised in Martin McAleese's report on the Magdalene laundries.

The minister said a comprehensive package of measures is being produced to meet women's needs. A chairperson is expected to be appointed by the Government to examine the case for survivors' compensation.

Mr O'Riordain added: "For our group and from our perspective, what we have asked for is very clear and very simple, that the women will be paid loss of wages and that they will get a nominal payment for being in the laundries."

The Government was asked to consider a financial package including a 50,000 euro (£43,000) payment for any woman sent to a laundry alongside a scheme which would amount to 20,000 euro per year's detention for loss of wages. The Government has not confirmed to survivors and advocates how it views the proposals.

Meanwhile, there are continued calls for the experiences of women detained in Stanhope Street in Dublin and Summerhill in Wexford, classed as training units, to be examined.

The Magdalene inquiry found 10,000 women were incarcerated by the state for a myriad of reasons from petty crime, fleeing the institutes, foster families no longer receiving state allowances and others who were orphaned, abused, mentally or physically disabled, homeless or poor. The last laundry closed in 1996, at Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin.

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