Minister contacting Magdalene orders over funding

Updated: Friday, 22 Feb 2013 07:07

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is contacting the religious orders who owned the Magdalene laundries in relation to the funding of the redress scheme.

The Department of Justice and Equality has also clarified that former industrial school residents who also spent time in laundries are not excluded from applying to the fund.

On whether a cap will be applied to payouts, the Department said it would await John Quirke's report before making a decision.

The Magdalene Survivors Together group met the Minister for Justice to discuss the terms of reference for the Magdalene redress fund.

The group has suggested a cap on payouts would be appropriate and that previous redress received by industrial school survivors should be taken into account.

The Department of Justice and Equality has received approximately 400 telephone calls from people signalling their interest in getting help from a fund to be established for ex-residents of the State's former Magdalene Laundries.

A spokesman said that half of the calls have been received over the past 24 hours.

The other 200 were received in the four hours immediately after the opening of the inquiry line yesterday morning.

The authors of the McAleese Report estimated that 800 or so former residents are still alive.

Meanwhile, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, Eamonn Walsh has said everybody who has a responsibility in relation to the Magdalene Laundries must step up to the line.

Dr Walsh said the religious orders that ran the laundries need to sit down in a calm environment and do as was done after the Laffoy and Ryan reports.

He said it was up to everyone to be responsible, and the religious wouldn't be found lacking in that.

Earlier, the Bethany Survivors' Group said it hopes former residents can also get justice.

The Government is ruling out suggestions that the Magdalene Laundries redress scheme will be extended to cover former residents of the Bethany Home in Dublin, which closed in 1972.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the group's secretary Niall Meehan said the State should take responsibility for the home and set up a redress scheme for the 20 or so Bethany survivors.

He also said the Church of Ireland should contribute to the redress.

Mr Meehan said survivors want to be included in society and have their rights vindicated.

There was evidence of ill-treatment and bad conditions at the home and 219 children were buried in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery.

Mr Meehan said most of those children died after the State took on the responsibility of inspecting maternity homes where unmarried mothers were present.

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Dr Michael Jackson has said there needs to be a conversation between the churches and the State about redress for the Bethany survivors.

Also speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Jackson said he supports calls for redress to be extended to the Bethany survivors, but he declined to answer directly whether the Church of Ireland should contribute to any such scheme.

At no point was it exclusively a Church of Ireland home, he said, and it was not a home under Church of Ireland governance.

He said it was a home where there was significant State involvement.

Dr Jackson said he had already encouraged members of his diocese to contribute to a fund for Bethany survivors.

Derek Leinster of the Bethany Survivors' Group has said he has received a message from the Taoiseach, via TD Joe Costello, that there will be an announcement on the Bethany Home in the coming weeks.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Edition, Mr Leinster said he had indisputable evidence that the State was implicated in the Bethany Home at every level.

Mr Leinster, who was born in the home, said he had been denied his rights as a human being.

Separately, the women of Dublin's Stanhope Street Training Centre will be entitled to apply for redress.

That institution was not included in the McAleese report, but was included in the Taoiseach’s apology in the Dáil.

Stanhope Street was not recorded as a Magdalene Laundry, even though many women spent many years there working under harsh conditions.