Magdalene group urges Govt over scheme

Wednesday 19 February 2014 20.57
Magdalene survivors say they are faced with ongoing difficulties over their entitlements
Magdalene survivors say they are faced with ongoing difficulties over their entitlements

A Supplementary Guide to the Government’s Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme has been published by the group Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR).

RTÉ's Religious and Social Affairs Correspondent Joe Little on the Magdalene's campaign for justice

The organisation says it is designed to fill the gap caused by the Government’s failure to follow a judge’s recommendation to establish a Dedicated Unit and Helpline for survivors of the state’s residential laundries.

This day last year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny apologised emotionally on behalf of the State to the Magdalene survivors.

Following the unprecedented Dáil speech, the Government tasked Mr Justice John Quirke with recommending ways of righting the wrongs done to the survivors.

In May, he published the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme (referred to as the 'Ex-Gratia Scheme') which the Government immediately endorsed.

In a statement this evening, JFM Research says it’s publishing the Supplementary Guide to the Scheme in response to continuing difficulties experienced by some survivors in understanding their entitlements under it.

The organisation's predecessor, JFM, shot to prominence in mid-2011 when it persuaded the UN Committee Against Torture to sharply criticise the Government for failing to address the Magdalene women's wrongs and to commission an independent inquiry into the scandal.

In July 2013, JFMR published its first Survivor Guide to the Scheme.

It is still campaigning for an independent inquiry but the Government says the February 2013 report by top civil servants chaired by the former Senator Martin McAleese is sufficient.

It examined the State's involvement with the laundries with the voluntary co-operation of all parties including the four religious orders that ran the laundries.

They were the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, the Religious Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

Today, survivors Maureen Sullivan, Mary Smyth and Geraldine Coll reiterated their demand that the orders apologise to survivors publicly and contribute financially to the Restorative Justice Scheme.

After laying a wreath on the unmarked graves of over 100 Magdalene women in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, they also criticised the Government for failing to legislate for the promised granting of special medical cards to survivors to give them free access to health services.

"They are getting on and would appreciate the card," said Mary Smyth. But, she lamented that the proposal had still not been put to the Oireachtas for its approval.    

JFMR says its Supplementary Guide also represents a response to ongoing concerns it has with the Scheme, many of which are laid out in an opinion piece in today's Irish Examiner.

It says that both its Guides provide information in an unbiased manner to enable survivors to make their own decisions about participating in the Scheme.

Today's Supplementary Guide is available to download free from JFMR’s website

Keywords: magdalene