Magdalene women ‘being denied access to medical cards’

Magdalene women ‘being denied access to medical cards’

A group of Magdalene survivors have criticised the Government which they say is denying women access to medical cards.

As part of the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill 2014, survivors of Magdalene laundries are to receive medical cards entitling them to a wide range of primary care and hospital-based treatments.

However, Magdalene Women spokesperson Maureen Sullivan says members of the group are being made suffer while the legislation is delayed.

“A lot of the women are very ill, some of them have cancer, some of them have died, and we haven’t received our medical cards,” she said at a demonstration outside Leinster House on Thursday.

“They’re reneging on what Judge Quirke has recommended and a lot of the women haven’t been settled. It’s two years since the apology, so really Enda Kenny can have his apology back. What he’s doing is wrong- this is abuse all over again to these women.”

Although exact details of the full range of benefits available under the proposed medical card have not yet been disclosed, Ms Sullivan said a lack of coverage for certain treatments remained a point of contention.

Redress scheme

Survivors signed up for the redress scheme instituted in 2013- which offered lump-sum payments of up to €100,000 for women subjected to physical and emotional abuse in the laundries- because of additional benefits which would be included in the medical card scheme, she said.

“They don’t want us to have alternative therapies like acupuncture which is very unfair- people are entitled to whatever medicine they want,” Ms Sullivan added.

“These women signed up for pittance because of the medical card. They’re too old to fight, they’re not able to fight anymore. They were duped into low money because they thought that a medical card was going to help them.”

After a four-year stay in the Summerhill laundry in Wexford, Diane Croghan (75) managed to escape from institutional care when she stowed away in the back of a laundry van aged 13.

Promised support

She said prescription charges and costs associated with timely medical care were costing her dearly in the absence of promised State support.

“They’re making us look like beggars for something we’re entitled to. We were denied education, we were denied our fundamental rights to food and freedom. We shouldn’t have to hold placards and fight for this, it should be given to us,” Ms Croghan said.

The protest coincided with the release of a report by the Justice For Magdalenes group which criticised the findings of the 2013 McAleese report into institutional abuse.

According to the advocacy group, the McAleese report accounts for just over half the women who died in the Magdalene laundries as it only includes deaths which occurred after the foundation of the State in 1922.

They say some 1,663 women perished while in the care of four religious orders which ran the laundries as opposed to the reported figure of 879. The group also criticised what they termed inaccurate and incomplete information on the burial arrangements of 187 Magdalene women who were supposedly buried in Glasnevin cemetery.


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