On 16 November 2021 the Irish Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Minister Roderic O’Gorman announced a new financial redress scheme for the survivors of mother-and-baby homes which will be the largest in the history of the Irish State in terms of the number of beneficiaries.
Mr O’Gorman said it is expected that the Redress Scheme will benefit 34,000 survivors to the value of €800 million.
Mothers who were resident in one of the institutions for any length of time will be eligible to receive a financial payment. People who were resident as a child for a period of six months or more will also be eligible for a payment.
The payment is “in recognition of the time spent in institutions, the harsh conditions, the emotional abuse and other forms of mistreatment, stigma, and trauma experienced while resident there” and “In addition people who spent more than six months in one of the institutions will be eligible to receive an enhanced medical card.”
Please see below a table setting out details of the payments to be made under the Scheme:
The intention is for the scheme to open for applications as soon as possible in 2022 although legislation will be required to establish the scheme.
According to the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, applicants will qualify solely based on proof of residency; it will not be necessary to provide evidence of abuse or any medical evidence.
Survivors and former residents now living overseas will qualify for a payment on the same terms as individuals living in Ireland, and will have the choice to receive the enhanced medical card proposed under the scheme or to opt for a one-off payment in lieu of the card as a contribution towards their individual health needs in the country that they live in.
Mr O’Gorman stated that when the Commission into Mother and Baby Homes report was published in January 2021 he wrote to the congregations and organisations that had run the institutions stating that he wanted to meet with them regarding their contribution to any scheme for survivors, access to records they might have, and their own apology. It is not clear whether any substantive engagement has taken place between the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the congregations before the scheme was announced but Minister O’Gorman said that he has “written to the congregations again in recent days seeking a meeting with them in the next number of weeks to begin the process of obtaining a substantive contribution from them.”
Although the Scheme was only announced on 16 November it has already been criticised by people who were sent to live with families (which is described as being “boarded out”) and/or adopted as they will be ineligible to apply for redress under the proposed scheme unless they first spent six months in a home covered by the proposed scheme. These people have stated their intention to “fight” for change to the newly proposed redress scheme and have described their exclusion as discriminatory.
The National Association for People Abused in Childhood is a national charity offering support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. As well as advocating on behalf of survivors in the media and elsewhere, NAPAC also trains professionals who have frequent contact with survivors of child abuse as part of their working environment. If you have been affected by the issues raised in today’s blog, or would like additional support, please use the links above.