The Government has been challenged to honour its promise to provide survivors of Magdalene laundries with the healthcare services recommended in the Quirke report 18 months ago.

Advocates for the women say new draft legislation represents an unacceptable paring back of what the Government promised as part of the women's redress package.

It is almost two years since Taoiseach Enda Kenny apologised emotionally to the 10,000-plus women who he said had been incarcerated and socially suffocated in Magdalene laundries in Ireland since 1922.

Mr Justice John Quirke was then tasked with designing a restorative justice scheme, which the Government accepted.

It included a special medical card which had originally been designed to help survivors of the Hepatitis-C scandal.

But the new bill providing for the Magdalene women's healthcare makes no mention of the special card.

In a statement, the Justice for Magdalene Research group says that the draft law promises little more than the regular medical card, which most of the women already have.

The National Women's Council of Ireland accuses the Government of denying survivors the pension entitlements Justice Quirke recommended they should have.

He said they should be treated as if they had made full pension contributions.

But the council says the Government is refusing to back-date the pension entitlements for women beyond August 2013.

Justice for Magdalenes Research says the Government has also ignored the judge's recommendation to extend the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 to Magdalene women who lack full capacity, so that applications to the Magdalene scheme can be made on their behalf and their assets can be managed by a court-appointed representative in their best interests.

The group says it is imperative that legislation is introduced immediately to protect women in institutionalised settings, to provide independent advocates and ensure that their interests are protected.

Supporting JFMR, Amnesty International reiterated its criticisms of the Government's statement that the McAleese Report on the laundries was the result of a comprehensive investigation of the scandal.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said significant progress has been made on the implementation of the Magdalene Scheme. 

It said that to date, a decision has been made on 87% of the 777 applications received.

With regard to medical services, the statement said that Judge Quirke recommended that legislation should be introduced to ensure that the women have access to an enhanced medical card. 

The statement says that the legislation was published in December last year, and is expected to have a speedy progress through the Oireachtas.

It says that under this legislation the Magdalene women will receive an enhanced medical card.