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Magdalene survivors urge Coalition to deliver on promises


Magdalene survivors urge Coalition to deliver on promises

Emma-Jane Hade

Published 20/01/2015 | 02:30

From the link: http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/magdalene-survivors-urge-coalition-to-deliver-on-promises-30921055.html

Dubliner Martina Keogh spent almost two years in two different Magdalene laundry homes when she was a young woman.

She is supporting a coalition of groups who are calling on the Government to fully implement all the recommendations made by Mr Justice John Quirke in the restorative redress scheme, particularly in relation to healthcare.

The group, which includes Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR), the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Amnesty International, claims the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill is an “unacceptable paring back of what the Government promised”.

Maeve O’Rourke, from JFMR, said the bill promises little more than the regular medical card, “which most of the women already have.”

Survivors want a card giving them access to a full range of health services, similar to the HAA cards issued to women infected with Hepatitis C through infected blood products.

Ms Keogh said: “I am hoping the Taoiseach will give us that card so we can get better treatment. I think they should stand up and deliver what they promised us.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice last night said: “The Magdalene women will receive an enhanced medical card on the same lines as the HAA card. Under this legislation, GP, prescription medicines, nursing, home help, dental, ophthalmic, aural, counselling, chiropody and physiotherapy services will be made available by the HSE free of charge.”

 

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Outrage expressed at provisions of Magdalene Bill


Outrage expressed at provisions of Magdalene Bill

Advocates for women say Bill is unacceptable paring back of redress package promises

Patsy McGarry Mon, Jan 19, 2015, 19:55

From the link: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/outrage-expressed-at-provisions-of-magdalene-bill-1.2071614

The draft legislation to assist survivors of Magdalene laundries has been described as “unacceptable, unfair and full of broken promises” by advocacy groups.

Advocates for the women say the Bill published last month represents an unacceptable paring back of what the Government promised as part of the women’s redress package.

After Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s apology to the Magdalene women last year, Mr Justice John Quirke was tasked with designing a restorative justice scheme, which the Government accepted.

The Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill, published last month, proposes the women be entitled to GP care, prescription medicines, nursing and home-help as well as dental, ophthalmic, aural, counselling, chiropody and physiotherapy services provided by the HSE.

‘Paring back’

This was described at the press conference as “an obvious and unacceptable paring back” on what Justice Quirke recommended, as well as possibly being open to legal challenge.

It was also claimed that of approximately €60 million allocated for spending on redress for the woman, just €18 million had been spent so far.

Dr Katherine O’Donnell of Justice for Magdalene Research (JFMR) said the Bill represented “a massive claw back” on the Quirke recommendations. She felt it may be open to legal challenge as, on receiving redress, women signed a waiver agreeing not to sue the State. This was on the understanding all the Quirke recommendations would be fulfilled, she said.

“Justice Quirke could not have been clearer in recommending that each woman should receive a card entitling her to the full range of health services provided to state-infected Hepatitis-C survivors under the HAA card scheme,” said Maeve O’Rourke, of JFMR.

“Instead, the Bill promises little more than the regular medical card, which most of the women [91 per cent] already have.”

Health issues

She said 14 per cent of the women were over 80, while the average age of the approximately 500 involved was 70, 66 per cent of them with serious health issues.

The Bill also failed to provide care representatives for Magdalene women in nursing homes whose full capacity to address their affairs may be limited, or to implement fully the recommendations on the women’s pension entitlements.

Orla O’Connor, of the National Women’s Council, said the Bill was “a further denial of the rights of women survivors of the Magdalene laundries”.

Amnesty International’s Colm O’Gorman described the Bill as “outrageous” and asked “what did the Taoiseach apologise for?” He described Government assertions that the interdepartmental McAleese inquiry was “a comprehensive investigation” of the laundries as “shocking”.

‘Enhanced’ medical card

Responding to the criticism, a Department of Justice spokesman said the women would “receive an enhanced medical card on the same lines as the HAA card”.

On the women with reduced capacity, he said this was being dealt with through separate legislation expected to be enacted in the first half of this year.

He also said: “Justice Quirke’s recommendation regarding top-up pension-type payments is being fully implemented.”

Magdalene survivor: ‘They’re ignoring my basic human rights’


Magdalene survivor: ‘They’re ignoring my basic human rights’

Former residents say Government has failed to implement necessary health measures

Sorcha Pollak Mon, Jan 19, 2015, 19:49

From the link: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/magdalene-survivor-they-re-ignoring-my-basic-human-rights-1.2071627

Diane Croghan says she felt like a liar after the Department of Justice rejected her testimonial of the time she spent working at the Magdalene laundry in Summerhill, Co Wexford. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Diane Croghan says she felt like a liar after the Department of Justice rejected her testimonial of the time she spent working at the Magdalene laundry in Summerhill, Co Wexford. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Diane Croghan was 13 years old when she climbed inside a laundry van to escape the Sisters of Mercy Training School in Summerhill, Co Wexford.

After more than three years of isolation, hard work and abuse at the Magdalene laundry at Summerhill, Diane decided to run away to Dublin.

“It was dreadful, we weren’t allowed to speak with one another,” she says. “I think we worked from 7am-7pm but I’m not sure. We didn’t know the time, we had nothing to show us what time it was.”

Domestic servant

After Diane escaped she found work as a domestic servant in Ballsbridge in Dublin. She later worked as a waitress in the Shelbourne hotel.

Diane’s testimony of the three years she spent working at Summerhill has been rejected by the Department of Justice reparation scheme for former residents of Magdalene laundries.

The financial compensation she received under the restorative justice scheme was based on information provided by the Sisters of Mercy Religious order, which claimed she had only spent five months at the Wexford laundry, between April and September 1956. According to Diane, by 1956 she was already living and working in Dublin.

“I felt like I was a liar; that I was trying to claim for years I wasn’t there and that’s not true. I accepted what they said because I took a stroke and I said no money would repay my good health,” she says. “I felt I was being punished. I was bullied into accepting it, so I accepted it.”

Elizabeth Coppin from Listowel, in Co Kerry, is also unhappy with the Government’s failure to respond to Mr Justice John Quirke’s recommendations for survivors of Magdalene laundries.

Industrial school

Elizabeth spent four years between two Magdalene Laundries in Cork and one in Waterford between the ages of 15 and 19. She spent the first 15 years of her life in an industrial school in Tralee.

“You were locked in a cell, treated like you were in prison,” she says, describing the laundries. “They cut my hair and changed all our names. Nobody knew anybody by their proper name.”

“We’re talking about trafficking. They exploited us as vulnerable young children. Most of us were underage.”

In August 2014, Elizabeth wrote to Minister for Health Leo Varadkar asking whether she was entitled to a Health (Amendment) Act 1996 Card (HAA card) following the Government’s commitment to accept all recommendations in Justice Quirke’s report.

The report states HAA cards should be given to “each of the women who were admitted to and worked in a designated Magdalene laundry”.

Four months later, on December 23rd, a response arrived from Mr Varadkar’s private secretary which said: “Judge Quirke did not recommend that a medical card would issue to participants of the ex gratia scheme”.

“For me, they’re saying again that I don’t matter,” says Elizabeth. “Again they’re ignoring my basic human rights. I had to wait four months to get that hidden, sneaky answer.

‘That’s disgusting’

“I bet you all those people in Government are getting their full pension and expenses, yet the Irish women are still being deprived of their entitlements. To me that’s disgusting.”

Elizabeth believed Taoiseach Enda Kenny when he apologised in 2013 on behalf of the State to the women who endured suffering in the Magdalene laundries. However, she says he’s gone back on his word.

“I was taken up with the moment of the idea of an apology. On reflection it couldn’t be genuine because they’ve reneged on Judge Quirke’s recommendations. I really believed it … but now I just feel that it was all a drama. He has let us down very badly.”

What’s Wrong with the Magdalenes Redress Scheme?


What’s Wrong with the Magdalenes Redress Scheme?

 

Jun 28, 2013

From the link: http://humanrights.ie/law-culture-and-religion/whats-wrong-with-the-magdalenes-redress-scheme/

It has been some time since we last covered the issue of the Magdalene Laundries. Since we last posted, the organisation Justice for Magdalenes has ceased its advocacy work on behalf of survivors . It will carry on research work – in particular an oral history project – under the directorship of Katherine O’Donnell at UCD. Justice for Magdalenes are to be commended for their years of important work. At the Jim Kemmy Thirst for Justice Awards Clare McGettrick asked that the Magdalene women would be treated as ‘national treasures’ and not as ‘second best’. This week, Mr. Justice John Quirke published his recommendations for a statutory redress scheme. His recommendations have been accepted by the government. It is difficult to conclude that this is the best we can do. Here are 10 problems with the Quirke scheme. There are certainly others.

1.  Even an excellent redress scheme is only part of the answer.

Doing restorative justice also requires us to look beyond the immediate context of the Magdalene laundries. In a really creative and thorough report the Irish Human Rights Commission stresses that the Government must also take steps to prevent the repetition of the sorts of abuses suffered by the Magdalene women ; for instance

  • revisiting legislation on the detention of adults with learning difficulties and mental health problems.
  • legislating against forced labour.
  •  strengthening gender equality legislation.
  • safeguarding the rights of adopted persons to information on their family of origin. (See news of a recent High Court case considering illegal adoptions here).
  • reconsidering the state’s obligations to ensure  non-state actors obligations with human rights principles.
  • improving state record-keeping practices.
  • reforming the burial and exhumation laws, the inadequacy of which was exposed by the High Park scandal. The orders’ records of death and burials continue to provoke disquiet among activists.

2.      Quirke is based on McAleese. McAleese wasn’t good enough.

I blogged on the McAleese report soon after its publication . UNCAT has confirmed that the Interdepartmental Committee was not an independent inquiry of the sort required to meet Ireland’s obligations under international human rights law. McAleese must be followed by an independent inquiry with full statutory powers to compel and retain evidence. The accuracy of the McAleese Report is put in doubt by Quirke. For instance, while the McAleese report suggested that 61% of women admitted to the Laundries remained there for less than a year, the  Magdalene women who presented evidence to Quirke’s team gave testimony indicating that this figure is closer to 9%. A new inquiry must also revisit McAleese’s findings on physical abuse within the Laundries, which are grossly at odds with the testimony collated by Justice for Magdalenes (This is, of course, unsurprising because the Interdepartmental Committee ignored JFM’s submissions of that testimony). The Quirke redress scheme is based on McAleese’s findings. In consequence, it does not purport to offer a remedy to women who suffered physical abuse in the Laundries.

3.      The redress offered under the scheme is inadequate.

As well as making arrangements for healthcare provision, the Quirke scheme offers tax-free ex gratia payments to women based on the length of their documented service in the laundries. Representative groups are divided as to the adequacy of this element of the scheme.The scheme provides for a top figure of 100,000 euro in redress; the figure available to a woman who has spent 10 or more years in a laundry. Very few women fall into this category. The majority of women who spoke to Mr. Justice Quirke’s team had been in a laundry for 1-5 years. Most of these women are 66 or over, in ill-health, badly educated and living in relative poverty. A woman of 66 who had been in a laundry for  4years, would receive:

  • Weekly payments equivalent to the state contributory pension, if she is not already in receipt of that pension.
  • 32,500 euro in general damages. General damages provide redress for “the harsh and  physically demanding work required of the women and the traumatic, on-going effects which their  incarceration and misery within the laundries has had upon their security, confidence and self-esteem”, as well as for the women’s educational deficit and current poor living conditions. General damages are capped at 40,000 euro. A woman who spent, say, 20 years in a laundry is not entitled to more.
  • 24,000 euro in respect of the labour undertaken in the laundries.  No woman will receive more than 60,000 euro in respect of labour in the laundries, whatever her length of service.

A woman in this category will not receive a 56,500 euro lump sum. 50,000 euro will be paid as a lump sum, with the remainder to be paid in weekly installments for the rest of the woman’s life. The woman in our example would receive a weekly income of 239 euro, which represents the combination of her state pension, assuming she is receiving it for the first time (230 euro per week) and the remainder of the redress due to her which is to be eked over the remainder of her life at a rate of 9 euro per week. The absolute maximum ‘top up’ to the state pension which any woman will receive under this scheme is 130 euro per week. This life income will not pass to dependents when the woman dies. When we take account of the age and ill-health of the majority of Magdalene women, it seems clear that many will die before they have been paid the full redress due to them under Quirke’s formula. This is an especially troubling prospect for women who spent longer periods of time in the laundry, who are entitled to larger sums under the scheme.

4.      Redress is not the same as compensation.

The Quirke scheme does not purport to offer compensation of the kind that would be available in a personal injuries claim. This scheme is not tailored to women’s individual injuries and experiences. It is a broad brush scheme based on broad brush assumptions. While a remedy in a personal injuries claim aims to put the claimant in the position she would be in had she not been wronged, this scheme aims only to “reflect the wish of the Irish  community to reduce the hurt and pain suffered by the Magdalen women by providing them with  monetary payments and with  sufficient health and other State benefits to ensure that the remainder of  their lives will be made as comfortable as is reasonably possible.”

Page 36 of the Report quotes Stephen Winter:

“In a restorative approach, monetary payments as sist the faultlessly burdened by  significantly increasing the material resources available for ongoing development at both  individual and community levels. But this is not their only restorative purpose. By  recognising past failures, monetary redress payments play a role in expressing state  sincerity. In terms of sincerity, individual payments fill an expressive gap in the  depersonalised context of state redress…  The voluntary character of the ex gratia  payments may appear to support this expression of state sincerity. Not bound by the  courts to deliver through an adversarial process pitting the state (yet again) against its  victims, the payments’ discretionary quality expresses the sincere nature of the state’s  reconciliatory intent.”

It is not clear that payments which appear to be patently inadequate can perform this function of sincerity. Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed on twitter) notes that Frank Shortt, who successfully sued the state for 27 months false imprisonment (a good analogy for the experience of the many Magdalene women who were illegally detained in the laundries) was awarded millions of euro in damages. There is a danger that if the state is perceived to have downgraded the Magdalene women’s financial entitlement, then the restorative expression of sincerity will begin to look more like risk management.

5. The redress scheme is run on heavily paternalistic principles.

As discussed above, where a woman is entitled to more than 50,000 euro under the Quirke scheme, part of the ex gratia payment will be received as a life income, which cannot then be passed on to a woman’s family as an inheritance. Women are not gaining an asset and do not have full control over the payments received. This provision is made in order to ‘strike a balance’ between the needs of ‘vulnerable’ women who fall within the scheme and those who are more capable of managing their own affairs. Why both groups of women should be treated identically is not clear.

6.   Women living in the care of religious orders are not properly provided for.

Little of substance has been said about the position of those women who live in institutions run by the former Magdalene orders.  What supports will be put in place to ensure that they have appropriate advocacy, that the money they receive under the scheme is properly used, and that their decisions are properly respected? Many of the orders with whom these women live, and lived under the laundries regime, are funded in respect of their care as ‘service-providers’ under the terms of the Health Act 2004. How will their payments under the scheme interact with that funding?

7.      Eligibility.

The Quirke Report stresses that the scheme’s administrator (as yet unidentified) must apply  ‘a fair and robust  eligibility or qualification process so that eligible applicants will have access to institutional and  other relevant records and receive such additional and other co-operation and assistance from  State and other agencies as they may require in order to enable them to properly record and verify  the work which they have done and the periods(s) o f time which they have spent within the  laundries.’ Eligibility may pose a significant hurdle. For instance, the records of the Magdalene Laundries in Galway and Dun Laoighre  are not available. Other Magdalene women contend that the records of their period in the laundries are inaccurate, unreliable and in some cases have been deliberately altered. The religious orders still retain control of their records of women’s incarceration.

8.      The waiver.

Women participating in the scheme are required to waive their entitlement to sue the state or its agencies in respect of their period in the Magdalene Laundries. Of course, the state is very well protected in this regard both by the statute of limitations and the principles on vicarious liability.  Nevertheless, as the IHRC notes in its report at p.104 , many Magdalene women have, in principle, a claim against the state for breach of constitutional rights. This should not be lightly removed by an administrative scheme.

9.      It is important to decouple remedies from an aggressive and slow adversarial process, but there is still room for responsibility.

Mr. Justice Quirke says of his scheme that:

(i) it will exclude mutually antagonistic roles and positions and will avoid invasive and painful inquiry and interrogation
(ii) it will not require the individual assessment of any of the Magdalen women and
(iii) it  will be a speedy procedure as part of a final process of healing, reconciliation and  closure and, in consequence,
(iv) it should reflect the expressed wishes of an  overwhelming majority of the 337  Magdalen women who actively participated in a consultation process with the Commission.

These are all laudable goals in the context of this redress scheme. However, it is important to recognise that the desire to avoid antagonism and delay can only take us so far. In particular, this scheme cannot do all of the work of ‘healing, reconciliation and closure’. As Katherine O’Donnell said on Wednesday’s Late Debate on RTE radio, taking the Magdalene women’s experience seriously means taking the time to do justice. Doing justice will necessarily entail further interrogation of the state’s involvement in the laundries. Closure cannot mean concealment.

10.  The religious orders which held women in Magdalene Laundries may not contribute to funding the redress scheme.

At the launch of the Quirke Report, the Minister for Justice suggested that the religious orders which were involved in the running of Magdalene Laundries should contribute to the redress scheme. However, two orders have said that they do not plan to contribute. The religious orders are relying, in this regard, on the McAleese Report’s finding that the Magdalene Laundries were not profit-making enterprises. I criticised this finding here as based on incomplete and highly subjective evidence. Findings in relation to the laundries’ finances fell outside the terms of reference of the McAleese Report. The Inter-Departmental Committee, as Simon McGarr notes on Twitter, nevertheless included figures on the laundries’ finances for reasons of ‘public interest’. It is extremely disturbing to see these findings used to avoid participation in the redress scheme. The Quirke report raises, and not for the first time, the question of the State’s apparent inability to hold church organisations responsible for human rights abuses.  The Irish Examiner reminds us that several religious orders implicated in the Magdalenes scandal amassed large sums of money in property deals during the economic boom.

Written by Máiréad Enright

Máiréad Enright lectures at Kent Law School. She is also a PhD candidate in the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, University College Cork. Her research interests are in gender and the law, law and religion, citizenship and the political dimensions of private law. You can contact her at M.Enright[at]kent.ac.uk or (+44) 1227 827996.

Author’s Website

 

Magdalene laundries’ controversy – 20 years on


Magdalene laundries’ controversy – 20 years on

Updated: 16:12, Wednesday, 26 June 2013

RTÉ’s Religious & Social Affairs Correspondent Joe Little reports

From the link: http://www.rte.ie/news/special-reports/2013/0626/458949-magdalene/

It is 20 years since the State's Magdalene laundries became a source of public controversy

It is 20 years since the State’s Magdalene laundries became a source of public controversy

 

The Government has unveiled a package of financial and other supports for survivors of Magdalene laundries.

It was based on recommendations of Mr Justice John Quirke who was asked by the cabinet to devise eligibility criteria and other aspects of a non-adversarial scheme.

It’s 20 years since the State’s Magdalene laundries became a source of public controversy. In 1993 the exhumation, transfer and cremation of the remains of 155 former residents of a Magdalene laundry in Dublin by an order of nuns clearing its land for sale sparked public outrage.

Eighty of the women had not been identified because death certificates were missing or never existed in the first place.

Earlier this year a committee of civil servants independently chaired by Dr Martin McAleese said “the most likely reason” for the blunder was the absence at that time of catalogued records in the order’s archives.

He noted the concern and distress caused to – potentially thousands of – women who had spent some of their lives in the State’s ten Catholic Magdalen laundries. And he said the women’s pain had been shared by their families and the general public.

But exhumations were not the only focus of criticism. In the landmark ‘States of Fear’ television documentary series, produced for RTÉ in 1999 by the late Mary Raftery, forced labour and wrongful deprivation of liberty were identified as hallmarks of the laundry life.

Women told of how, as young girls, they were made to work without pay in sweltering laundries with no indication of when, if ever, they would be released by their families, the nuns and the State which together frequently conspired to keep them hidden from wider society behind high walls and locked gates.

Raftery’s work on the plight of institutionalised children here– she also co-authored ‘Suffer Little Children’ with the Trinity College Dublin academic, Eoin O’Sullivan – forced the State to apologise to thousands of survivors of industrial schools and reformatories.

But the survivors of Magdalene laundries were largely ignored despite the fact that laundries often shared campuses with the other kinds of Catholic-run residential institutions and took referrals from them when girls were nearing graduation age.

While the State paid €1.5bn on a Redress Scheme for the survivors who merited its apology – much of it on lawyers’ fees – “the Magdalenes” as they came to be known, were virtually ignored.

However, movies were made on their plight and the making of Steven O’Riordan’s documentary ‘The Forgotten Maggies’, (2009, TG4) brought together the nucleus of Magdalene Survivors Together, an organisation that represents about 80 women in their campaign for justice.

Simultaneously, the Justice For Magdalenes Campaign (JFM) lobbied the Government and the Catholic Church for apologies and restorative justice measures for the ageing cohort of survivors and their families.

In 2011, JFM’s a recently-graduated legal academic, Maeve O’Rourke, brought their case to the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva.

It was moved to strongly criticise the Irish Government for failing to launch a prompt, independent and statutory investigation into the women’s claims and for failing to apologise to them.

The State’s representative testified that, from the limited evidence available, the Government was satisfied that the great majority of the women had been admitted voluntarily to the laundries and, in the case of minors, had been put there with the consent of their families.

Embarrassed by the findings in Geneva, the newly-elected Fine Gael-Labour Government promptly asked Dr Martin McAleese in 2011 to chair a group of civil servants from relevant departments to establish any State involvement with the laundries.

Report details State’s responsibility

Last February saw the publication of the 1,000-page McAleese Report. It found that approximately 10,000 women and girls had been put into the laundries between the founding of the State and 1996 when the last one closed.

It also found that the State was responsible for about a quarter of all referrals.

Many of the survivors who Dr McAleese met “experienced the laundries as lonely and frightening places” This was true, he added, particularly in the case of those who were put there as young girls”.

Dr McAleese noted that most girls were not told why they were put away. Possible reasons included poverty, the loss of a mother, disability, the risk of becoming pregnant, being sexually abused, and having had a second child outside marriage.

Girls committed by industrial schools – where they had been detained for some of their earlier years – were not told how long they would have to stay in the laundries. Dr McAleese added that the same open-ended policy was applied to those admitted by families and charities.

“To add to this confusion,” the report continues, “most found themselves quite alone in what was, by today’s standards, a harsh and physically demanding work environment. The psychological impact on these girls was undoubtedly traumatic and lasting.”

The report’s impact was blunted somewhat by the finding that 61% of residents had spent less than one year in the institutions. It was as if some sections of public opinion were disappointed that the picture painted by the report did not live up to the stereotype of laundry life portrayed by film-makers in particular.

But this was based on information concerning only 42% of admissions, those for which duration is known. The report in fact finds that the average duration of stay of those particular admissions was 3.22 years.

While some former residents who met the committee said the laundries were “their only refuge at times of great personal difficulty”, “the majority described the atmosphere in (them) as cold, with a rigid and uncompromising regime of physically demanding work and prayer, with many instances of verbal censure, scoldings or even humiliating put-downs.”

However, the vast majority told the committee that the ill-treatment, physical punishment and abuse that had been prevalent in the industrial school system was not something they experienced in the laundries.

Critically, although the laundries were owned and run by four religious congregations of nuns, the State was directly involved with the institutions. The McAleese Report detailed four cross-overs in addition to the previously mentioned responsibility the State bore for about a quarter of all fully recorded admissions:

State inspections and State funding of the laundries; State involvement in the routes by which women left the institutions; and its role in death registration, burials and exhumations.

Almost immediately after the report’s publication last February, the four Catholic congregations that had run the Laundries expressed their regrets for how they had treated women and girls in their care and apologised with varying degrees of intensity.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also expressed regret for what had been revealed but stopped short of making an unequivocal apology to the women. But two weeks later, on the 19 February, he apologised unreservedly on behalf of the State to the survivors.

In a well-attended but hushed Dáil, his voice broke with emotion as he apologised for the hurt the women had endured in the laundries and for any stigma they suffered as a result of their time there. Dozens of survivors were moved to tears as they looked on from the visitors’ gallery.

Mr Kenny said that he wanted to initiate a process to help and support the women in their remaining years, and announced that the retired High Court Judge John Quirke had agreed to review how the Government could provide support to the women.

Shortly afterwards, the Department of Justice invited survivors of the laundries – and of a Catholic residential training centre for females in Dublin’s Stanhope Street – to register their intent to seek State support. So far more than 750 have done so. Meanwhile, Mr Justice Quirke began devising the eligibility criteria for the general scheme of supports and a payments system.

The Government had already decided all assistance should be given on an an ex gratia basis, that is, out of a sense of its moral obligation rather than because of any legal requirement.

The judge has been asked to estimate how much his proposed payments will come to. He’ll define their “nature” and “amount” and propose a method for deciding on payments “in an effective and timely manner that ensures the…. Fund (is) directed only to the benefit of eligible applicants and not on legal fees and expenses”.

Critically, his terms of reference also oblige him “to take into account relevant criteria including work undertaken by the women”. He has also been asked to examine “other matters as considered appropriate, to contribute to a healing and reconciliation process”

Judge Quirke will advise as well on help-in-kind for former residents who need it. Examples given are medical cards and other public health supports like mental health and counselling services and other welfare needs.

He’ll tackle the complex and thorny question of double-payments: how the government should respond to women who have already received money from the now defunct Residential Institutions Redress Board in recognition of abuse suffered in an Industrial School but where the payment included “a sum specifically due to their direct transfer to a Laundry and time spent there.

He has been asked to propose ways of ensuring that former residents living in the UK won’t lose existing entitlements to benefits and supports if they receive a payment from the Fund.

And finally, he will suggest ways of ensuring that “payments or supports or assistance” provided here are disregarded when Social Welfare entitlements and/or income tax liability are being determined.

The report, and the Government’s response to it, are scheduled to be launched in Dublin at 3.30pm today by Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter and Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch.

Legal action against Cardinal Brady settled


Legal action against Cardinal Brady settled

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 – 11:20 AM

From the link: http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/legal-action-against-cardinal-brady-settled-530362.html

Cardinal Sean Brady made an undisclosed settlement today with the victim of notorious paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.

Cardinal Brady, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, was sued by Brendan Boland, one of two teenagers he swore to secrecy in 1975 following his investigation into their allegations of abuse by Fr Smyth.

The 50-year-old from Co Louth launched the case against Cardinal Brady in his personal and official capacities, along with the diocese of Kilmore and Smyth’s Norbertine Order.

The settlement was agreed shortly before a date for hearing was due to be fixed at the High Court in Dublin.

Mr Justice John Quirke struck out the case today.

While the settlement is not confidential, Mr Boland – who was not in court – has decided not to disclose the amount.

In June last year Cardinal Brady reached an out-of-court settlement, said to be worth more than €250,000, with the other teenager whose abuse by Smyth he investigated in 1975.

It was the High Court action by Marie McCormack which led to disclosures in March last year that Cardinal Brady had been involved in canonical investigations into abuse allegations against Smyth in 1975 which involved the two young people.