A REDRESS scheme announced by the Irish Government to compensate the women and children who went through the state’s notorious mother and baby home system has been branded “unfair” and “unacceptable”.
The Mother & Baby Institutions Payment Scheme was announced on November 16 by Children and Equalities Minister Roderic O’Gorman.
The Minister confirmed that under the Scheme up to 34,000 survivors of Ireland’s brutal mother and baby and county homes would receive a financial payout of up to €65,000 and also be entitled to an enhanced medical card.
“There is no payment or measure that can ever fully atone for the harm done through the Mother and Baby Institutions,” he said.
“What we have set out today is the next chapter in the State’s ongoing response, and its commitment to rebuilding the trust it so grievously shattered.”
Under the Scheme all mothers who spent time in these homes will receive redress payments of up to €65,000, with the amount dependant on how long they were there.
Another work-related payment is also available for women who were resident in certain institutions for more than three months and who undertook commercial work in these homes.
These payments will range from €1,500 to €60,000.
However those who spent time in these homes as children will have to have been resident there for six months or more to be eligible for a payment.
That stipulation has drawn strong criticism in the days that have passed since the Scheme was announced.
Speaking in the Dáil on November 17, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald slammed the Scheme – claiming the through it the Government had created a “hierarchy of survivors, taking the view that some mothers and their children suffered less than others”.
Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne claimed the Scheme abandoned survivors who fall foul of the six month rule.
“Every minute spent in these institutions was a minute too long,” he said.
“Determining whether someone can access the scheme by applying time limits does not reflect the fact that it only took the religious orders a moment to make a decision that would fundamentally affect the entire future of a young child and its mother.”
He added: “The six-month rule represents an abandonment by the state of its responsibilities to all survivors who have been failed and excluded over the decades.”
Galway woman Catherine Corless, who made the devastating discovery that nearly 800 children had been buried in a mass grave at a Tuam mother and baby home, also believes the redress scheme is unfair.
“I am sure all survivors would like to get something for their suffering their past, what they were put through,” Ms Corless, who has campaigned for years for justice for the Tuam mother and baby home victims, told The Irish Post this week.
“I do know there is huge dissatisfaction among survivor groups with this announcement,” she added.
“It falls short really and the way it is set up, they are very very upset about.”
She explained: “Any child which was in one of these homes for under six months does not get anything at all - that is very very unfair.”
“The Irish Government should really sit down and think about what they are saying here, because they don’t seem to have a clue to be honest,” she added.
“I wonder at times is that mentality still there about survivors, that bit of a stigma, what they went through, because they were deemed illegitimate, they are still not really being taken seriously.”
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has also criticised the Scheme, claiming the exclusions are “unacceptable”.
Mr Boyd Barrett, who himself was born at a mother and baby home, before being adopted, believes the Scheme fails to address the individual trauma suffered by victims.
“It is not acceptable that there should be arbitrary cut-off dates for redress, or not giving redress to particular cohorts based on arbitrary cut-off dates,” he said.
“That completely fails to take into account the individual circumstances and trauma that people may have suffered.”
He added: “In many cases, people who [went through mother and baby homes] would not even know some of these dates and may find it difficult to find out.
"I know in my case I do not know how long I was in a mother and baby home. The point is, I know from experience, there is a lot of your early life, if you were in a mother and baby home, you would not know of.
“There needs to be a thorough investigation of this scheme.”