Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has criticised the Department of Justice for what he described as its flawed administration of the scheme designed to compensate women who were admitted to or worked in institutions and Magdalene laundries.

The differences between the department and the Ombudsman centre on why some women were excluded from a compensation scheme.

RTÉ's Cian McCormack spoke to one woman whose case was examined by the Ombudsman.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, spent seven years in An Grianan training centre which was linked to St Mary's Refuge, High Park, Magdalene Laundry.

The story starts when the woman was picked up from the streets of Dublin with her sister and sent to the training centre in the 1970s.

Here is her story:


My sister was ten. I was 12. And we were hanging out with street kids. Our parents were not in the picture at the time.

We were living with my grandmother - and the week we were taken, she was in hospital that week. So on that day, we were hanging out with a gang of kids in the inner city Dublin area. We were up to no good. We were wild kids running in the streets and I won't deny that.

You know, it always come back to this thing: 'Like, what did you do? How did you end up in there? What was so bad about you that you ended up in one of these places?'

And the simple truth is: We weren't bad, we were just kids. You know, poor kids. But we were kids.


Reporter: Was there a charge there? What was the charge? Did you do something that day?

I don't even know, truthfully ... I think I was stealing, it might have been £2 or something at the time. It was very little money. And it wasn't even stolen. They made that up, by the way ... We did end up in front of a judge, a juvenile judge [court].

It took minutes to assign us to one of these institutions. I never, by the way, saw my grandmother again.


Life in the laundry

The young kids, we fell into that category, our job was to sort out the sheets when they came in. Honestly, it was the worst job you could get there.

They came in large vats, Mountjoy Prison sheets. You know, use your imagination. I shudder to think of the amount of diseases we were subjected to, because we had no gloves and we had to handle these disgusting sheets. And we did that for years.

We worked on average, myself and my sister, 25 or sometimes 30 hours a week because we could work the Saturdays.

It was brutal hard work. And we were never compensated for it.

And that's why when the ex-gratia scheme came along, we were like: 'Finally, we'll see some justice here. I mean, surely, we won't be denied this.'


Reporter: You are talking to me anonymously but there are people in your life who don't know your story. Does your family know your story?

I was married to my husband for ten years before I told him my story. I was that ashamed. I was so ashamed.

You've no idea the shame you feel. You feel like a freak because you were locked away for eight, seven years. You're not part of the regular world.


Redress and ex-gratia scheme

Our group, we have come up against the Department of Justice. They're giving us pushback on our request to be included in the ex-gratia scheme. And the ex-gratia scheme ... is for women who worked in the laundry, compensation for the labour that they did. That's all it is. OK. That's all it covers.

The redress scheme was about the lack of education that we received in these institutions. I didn't receive Inter Cert, Leaving Cert. There was no formal education, which was why we qualified for the redress board.

So for seven years of very, very little education, I got $18,000, which is why, when the ex-gratia scheme came along, I said well I worked in the laundry. I worked in the laundry every day. Like, I should be entitled to that...

Even if we don't succeed in this, my sister and I have decided we're prepared to take it all the way to the UN. Because we feel we have never received justice for our human rights being violated.