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Ireland to compensate survivors of Magdalene Laundries

June 26, 2013 at 1:41 PM

DUBLIN, Ireland, June 26 (UPI) -- Women incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland will receive compensation based on the time spent there, officials said Wednesday.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said survivors of the laundries will not have to prove they were physically or emotionally abused or suffered special hardship, The Irish Times reported. Payments will range from 11,500 euros ($15,000) for those who were incarcerated for three months or less to 100,000 euros ($130,000) for those who spent 10 years or more in the system.

The Magdalene Laundries, for "fallen women," began as a Protestant charity in the 18th century in Ireland and other countries. After Ireland became independent, they were taken over by the Catholic Church and housed unwed mothers, women believed to be prostitutes and in some cases young women who had aged out of orphanages and children's homes.

By the time the last laundry closed in 1996, the institution had become a national scandal. In 1993, when an order of nuns sold property in Dublin, the remains of 155 former Magdalene inmates were discovered buried in unmarked graves.

The government plans to give lump sum payments for compensation of less than 50,000 euros ($65,000). Those who receive more will get weekly payments.

The total cost has been estimated at some 58 million euros ($75 million).

Prime Minister Enda Kenny issued an official apology on behalf of the Irish government to survivors of the Magdalene Laundries in February, calling them "the nation's shame."

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