HSE to reissue medical cards to Magdalene survivors

By Conall ó Fátharta
Irish Examiner
July 15, 2015

The HSE will reissue medical cards sent to Magdalene survivors after complaints they identified the women as having been in a laundry.

The cards, issued in the last few days to survivors under the State’s redress scheme, identify the holder as a member of the Magdalene redress scheme.

The card is headed with “Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act, 2015” with the hol- der assigned an RWRCI number.

Survivors would have had to produce the card when seeking certain services they are entitled to.

A number of women were deeply upset by the cards with some fearing they would be forced to travel to avail of services under the scheme to conceal their past institutionalisation.

However, in a statement issued yesterday evening, mental health minister Kathleen Lynch said she had asked the HSE to reissue the cards and said they were not intended to cause offence or embarrassment to survivors.

“However, I accept that by putting the full title of the Act on the card it identifies the holders in a way that is unnecessary.

“I am completely open to changing the title as it appears on the card if this is what the women want.

“It requires only a small amount of effort to correct this and I am happy to ensure that this happens.

“I hope this puts to rest any concerns that have been raised. These cards were intended to ensure eligible women finally get easy access to much needed services. I will ask the HSE to make the required change and reissue cards in a more anonymised format.”

Claire McGettrick of Justice For Magdalenes Research said even when the cards are reissued, the services outlined in the document with the card merely replicate the ordinary medical card which 90% of survivors already have.

“Justice For Magdalenes Research again asserts that the healthcare provisions as outlined in the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions guide do not provide Magdalene survivors with the same range of drugs and services made available to Health (Amendment) Act cardholders,” said Ms McGettrick.

“The 512 women who have signed up to the Magdalene scheme thus far have waived their right to take legal action against the State in the expectation that they will receive the full range of benefits and services recommended by Mr Justice Quirke and accepted in full by the Government.”

Meanwhile, the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes will join with members of Angela Collins’s family to protest outside the Dáil today at their treatment by the Irish state and Catholic Church.

Ms Collins died in a Magdalene laundry after working there for 27 years.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.