The Government has announced details of an €800 million mother and baby redress scheme for 34,000 former mother and baby homes survivors and county homes.
The Mother and Baby Redress Scheme will provide monetary payments and a type of enhanced medical card in acknowledgment of the suffering experienced by the survivors of the institutions. All mothers who spent time in a mother and baby institution will be eligible, as will children who spent at least six months in an institution and who have not already received redress for that institution through the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme. Payments will increase based on the survivor’s length of stay. An additional payment for women who performed “commercial work” within the institutions will also be made.
The controversial report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes Survivors had recommended that women should only be eligible for redress if they spent a minimum of six months in an institution prior to 1974, but this recommendation was rejected by Government.
Many survivors have criticised the six-month time limit on redress for child residents, saying that it may exclude people whose lives were significantly affected by the institutions. Beth Wallace, who was born in a mother and baby home, said that this restriction reveals a lack of understanding of trauma and its long-term effects. Maria Arbuckle, another survivor, commented on the difficulty of deciding what constitutes a fair level of compensation.
The Mother and Baby Redress scheme, which will open to applications next year, is the largest of its kind in the history of the State when measured by the estimated number of beneficiaries. Payments will range from €5,000 for women who spent less than three months in an institution up to a maximum of €125,000 for those who spent more than 10 years in an institution.
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, speaking after the Cabinet approved the scheme on Tuesday, thanked survivors and their families for participating in the consultation process for the scheme. He stated that, unlike previous schemes, survivors will not be “gagged” from talking about their experiences after receiving a payment. However, they will still need to sign a waiver agreeing not to pursue legal action against the State in order to receive payment. Mr O’Gorman also said that he has been in contact with religious congregations to ask them to contribute to the fund.