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Magdalene survivor’s fury at nuns resisting redress

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has put pressure on the four religious orders to contribute financially  to new redress scheme.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has put pressure on the four
religious orders to contribute financially to new redress scheme.

A FURIOUS survivor has hit out at the religious orders that ran brutal Magdalene Laundries for failing to take immediate action and contribute to the Irish Government’s £50m redress scheme.

Despite being pressured by Justice Minister Alan Shatter to contribute financially to the scheme announced last month, the four religious orders that ran the laundries have not decided whether they will do so, The Irish Post has learned.

Kathleen Legg, a Bournemouth-based survivor who spent three years in a laundry, said: “I am happy with what I will be getting, but I am very angry that it looks like the Irish Government will have to pay the money when really it should be coming from the nuns.

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“I will be so angry if the nuns are allowed to get off scot free. The money definitely should not be coming from the Government, depriving Irish people.”

A spokesperson for Ireland’s Department of Justice confirmed to The Irish Post that no agreement has been reached with the orders and added that Mr Shatter will report to cabinet on the matter this week.

Magdalene campaigner Steven O’Riordan said he understands that two of the religious orders have told the Government they do not have any money to contribute to the fund – a claim he branded “unbelievable”.

“It is clear that from the sales of the properties where the Magdalene Laundries operated, they [the religious orders] made vast quantities of money because the majority of them received the property for free in the first place or paid a minimal cost,” Mr O’Riordan added.

He also said the religious orders have “completely gotten away with any form of responsibility,” adding: “The survivors are outraged because they maintain and always have maintained that it should not be the taxpayer who is footing the entire bill.”

When contacted by The Irish Post, the Good Shepherd Sisters, which ran four laundries in the south of Ireland, refused to comment on whether it would be contributing financially to the redress scheme.

Meanwhile, a sister from the Religious Sisters of Charity, which ran two laundries in Dublin, said the order had not decided whether it would contribute.

“We are preparing to go away for a congregational meeting and will not be dealing with anything like that until mid-August,” she added.

Both the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and the Sisters of Mercy, which ran two and three laundries respectively, welcomed the announcement of the scheme and committed to helping Magdalene women find their records, which are needed to apply for redress.

But both declined to comment on whether they will be contributing financially to the scheme.

The plans announced by Ireland’s Justice Minister Alan Shatter implement all the recommendations of a report into Magdalene redress by Justice John Quirke.

Under the scheme, Magdalene women will receive a payment of between €11,500 and €100,000 depending on how long they spent in a laundry.

Magdalene women will also receive a contributory pension from the Irish state worth €230.30 (£198.80).

Sally Mulready, an advocate for Magdalene women in Britain, told The Irish Post that she is awaiting clarification from Ireland’s Justice Department as to whether Survivors in Britain will be able to claim the pension on top of their existing British benefits.

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Niall O Sullivan
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Niall O’Sullivan is a reporter at The Irish Post. You can follow him on @Niall_IrishPost on Twitter

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