To access their modest lump sum – which they desperately need – the women are required to sign a waiver, accepting “all the terms of the scheme” and waiving “any right of action against the State or any public or statutory body or agency” arising out of their time in a Magdalene laundry.
In contrast with the judge’s report, there is no mention of (a) private healthcare provision, (b) healthcare for women living abroad, or (c) a dedicated unit to provide advice and support, services to meet other survivors, assistance with housing and education benefits, and the creation and maintenance of a memorial.
How can the women be asked to agree to all terms of a scheme that are not explicit and do not resemble Mr Justice Quirke’s recommendations? It would be cynical in the extreme – and an abuse of power – for the Government to use waivers signed by vulnerable women to avoid implementing the scheme it promised last year. But that is precisely what it seems to be doing.
We also know of three survivors who have died and two others who have experienced repeated hospitalisations since the Taoiseach’s apology last year. Time is not on these women’s side. Further delays and more broken promises are simply unacceptable.