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Sisters welcome Magdalene report

By editor - 29 June, 2013

The Magdalene laundries redress scheme, announced this week, will offer survivors enhanced state pensions and tax-free lump sums of between €11,500 and €100,000, depending on their length of stay. Details of the ex-gratia scheme and supports for the women affected are published this week in the report by Justice John Quirke, President of the of […]

The Magdalene laundries redress scheme, announced this week, will offer survivors enhanced state pensions and tax-free lump sums of between €11,500 and €100,000, depending on their length of stay.

Details of the ex-gratia scheme and supports for the women affected are published this week in the report by Justice John Quirke, President of the of the Law Reform Commission and relate to the former residents of the Magdalen Laundries; St Mary’s Training Centre Stanhope Street and House of Mercy Training School, Summerhill, Wexford.

The Good Shepherd Sisters issued a statement welcoming the report by  Justice Quirke. They stated they plan to continue caring for women who continued to reside with them after leaving laundries.

In a statement the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy also welcomed the publication of the Report of Justice Quirke on the establishment of an ex gratia scheme and related matters for the benefit of those women who were admitted to and worked in the Magdalene Laundries.

“This Report is a valuable and timely follow up to the publication of the McAleese report last February,” they state.

The Congregation was involved with two Magdalene Homes, Dun Laoghaire and Galway, both of which were already in operation before coming under the care of the Sisters of Mercy. The home at Dun Laoghaire closed in 1963. The Laundry at the Galway home closed in 1984. Many of the women who resided at the Galway home remained the care of the sisters for the remainder of their lives.

The sisters stated they are committed to helping women who spent time in Dun Laoghaire or Galway to establish the period spent there so that they can avail of the proposed scheme. They have employed professionals to run their archive so that those who seek records receive an appropriate and caring response, in keeping with statutory requirements regarding the release of personal information.

In their statement they conclude “We particularly welcome the proposal for the establishment of a dedicated unit through which on-going support and assistance may be obtained by the women. It is suggested that the ‘Dedicated Unit’ may have among its functions the provision of assistance to enable women who wish to do so to meet with those members of religious congregations who have similar wishes to meet and interact. We will welcome the opportunity for such interaction mindful that all Sisters who held positions of responsibility and worked in Galway or Dun Laoghaire are now deceased.”

Justice Quirke recommends that the State should establish, fund, staff and accommodate a small Dedicated Unit which would provide:

.A helpline to assist women to obtain the health, monetary and other benefits to which they will now be entitled to.
.Investigative and other help and assistance in obtaining such sheltered or other housing as they may be entitled to; and educational assistance as they may be entitled to.
.Practical and, if necessary professional, assistance to enable those women who wish to do so to meet with those members of the Religious Orders who have similar wishes to meet and interact.
.Similar practical assistance to meet and interact with other Magdalen women.
.The acquisition, maintenance and administration of any garden, museum or other form of memorial which the Scheme’s administrator, after consultation with an advisory body or committee has decided to construct or establish.

Judge Quirke’s other recommendations include that the Magdalene women:
. should be granted access without charge to a wide range of services (GP, hospital, drugs, dental counselling etc.) i.e. an enhanced medical card;
.who have reached pensionable age should have an income equivalent to the State contributory pension;
. who have not reached pensionable age should have an income from the State of €100 per week;
Also that: The cash payments should be exempt from income and other taxes and should not be taken into account for means testing social welfare or other entitlements;
. The extension of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 so that persons are appointed to look after on an individual basis the best interests of Magdalene women;
.Any previous payments made to these women under the Residential Redress Scheme should not be taken into account.

Queries can be directed to: 01-476 8660, email: [email protected]. Address: Restorative Justice Scheme, Department of Justice and Equality, Montague Court, 7-11 Montague Street, Dublin 2.

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