Ireland to pay Magdalene workers compensation

Ireland will pay several hundred former residents of Catholic-run Magdalene laundries at least $A49 million to compensate them for their years of unpaid labour and public shame, reports BigPond News.

The government's announcement follows a decade-long campaign by former residents of the workhouses. Justice Minister Alan Shatter apologised to the women - an estimated 770 survivors out of more than 10,000 who lived in the dozen facilities from 1922 to 1996 - that it had taken so long for them to receive compensation.

The move marked the latest step in a two-decade effort by Ireland to investigate and redress human rights abuses in its Catholic institutions.

Shatter's decision came four months after a government-commissioned probe found that women consigned to the laundries were broadly branded 'fallen' women, a euphemism for prostitutes.

The investigation found that few actually were, while most instead were victims of poverty, homelessness and dysfunctional families in a state lacking the facilities to care for them.

In a challenge to the four orders of nuns that ran the workhouses, Shatter called on them to help pay the bill.

The orders - the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge, the Sisters of Charity, and the Good Shepherd Sisters - all issued statements welcoming the payments plan. None offered any pledge to contribute and insisted their staff had done the best they could at the time, given the state's own inability to care for the women.

FULL STORY Ireland compensates Magdalene laundries workers (BigPond News)

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