(Kathleen Whelan with Steven O’Riordan at Áras an Uachtaráin)
Magdalene Laundry survivor Kathleen Whelan died in her home at Baile Na Aoire, Montenotte, Co Cork, last Sunday – on her 68th birthday.
She received no compensation before she died, even though Taoiseach Enda Kenny made the State apology in February.
Steven O’Riordan, of Magdalene Survivors Together, spoke to Mary Wilson on RTÉ One’s Drivetime moments ago about this.
Mary Wilson: “Did [Kathleen Whelan] get anything?”
Steven O’Riordan: “No. Unfortunately Kathleen, and like the lady that died previously, has left now €200,000 behind them and the State obviously has saved €200,000 and paying any compensation to these individuals. And I think that’s very sad as well because I think these women really did believe that once the apology was made, and once the scheme was set up in June, that payments would be start to be made and, of course, like everything that the State seems to have to offer is all legal implications and all tied with red tape and nothing ever seems to progress in this country.”
Wilson: “So, what is stopping the progress? They got the apology last February, the scheme for compensation was established in June. Here we are near the end of October and you’re telling me that none of the women have got any money?”
O’Riordan: “No. And I think the implication is that a waiver form has to be signed by the women and I think there’s a…”
Wilson: “This is a waiver, not to sue…”
O’Riordan: “Not to take the State to the courts any more after they get the compensation and I think ultimately then what happens is that if the women don’t sign it and want to go to the courts, would the statute of limitations be lifted? Does the implications of them getting a previous compensation from an industrial school kick in? Does that prevent them from going to the courts? And what are the implications of signing the waiver form in terms of the rights they’re giving away.”
Wilson: “So Steven are some of the blockages to pay out on the side of the women who want certain guarantees in relation to their own futures on the compensation?”
O’Riordan: “Well a lot of the women expressed a view that they feel that they should be paid in full. And the Government feels that they should be getting a weekly allowance each week, on top…”
Wilson: “They want the full payment? The women want the full payment from the start?”
Wilson: “The Government wants to give it on an incremental basis?”
O’Riordan: “Yeah, and I think it’s a shame that the Government again just don’t listen to the women. The Government were asked to get the religious orders to pay something into the scheme, they didn’t achieve that. The Government have been asked for the women can they be paid in full. We don’t seem to be getting that. I distinctly remember writing to the Secretary General Jimmy Martin asking could there be confirmation as to whether the women or not will get the full entitlement rather than this weekly payment, that was in July. I’m still waiting in October to receive a response.”
Wilson: “So where are we at? Are there talks ongoing?”
O’Riordan: “We’re in absolutely no-man’s land. The Department of Justice has completely and utterly shut down. They don’t relay or communicate with me. They only communicate with the women directly. I’ve had over 20 complaints from different women that I’ve worked with in relation to the Department of Justice’s handling of the process of the scheme. The women are very upset with the fact that they don’t know what the situation is with their medical cards. We’ve heard a lot about that from different, various groups already this week in the Budget. And I suppose the women now feel that they might not even get the medical cards. The other thing that they’re upset about is the fact that there’s been no progress on the national monument even though they have a clear vision as to what they want to achieve. And I think their biggest fear is that, will they all be dead by the time this is resolved? And why is it taking so long? What is the situation with regard, the delay in the process of these payments? And why isn’t the Government properly communicating with these women? And why isn’t the Government communicating with the groups that have been set up to deal with these women?”
Stephen also said the women have yet to hear anything about the dedicated unit and helpline that the Government promised to set up, following the State apology.
He also said that the ladies have had to pay in order to obtain birth certificates and marriage certificates, as part of the process.
Pic via Goldenbridgeinmate36