Wednesday, 3 July 2019
Redress for Women Resident in Certain Residential Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2019: Report and Final Stages
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 4, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:
"Insertion of section 7 in Principal Act4.The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following new section after section 6-"Review of operation of Act
7.The Minister shall not later than 3 months after the enactment of the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions (Amendment) Act 2019, review relevant participants’ access to health and social care services in accordance with the Principal Act and any differences between the entitlements to services as compared with the entitlements to services of holders of a Health (Amendment) Act 1996 Card, ensuring relevant participants' involvement in the review.".".
I thank the Minister for being present again this afternoon. I do not propose to speak at length. The amendment is an abbreviated and simplified version of the amendment we tabled on Committee Stage. It would require the Minister for Justice and Equality to review the health and social services available to the Magdalen women under this Act, compare them to the services available to those entitled to a medical card under the Health (Amendment) Act 1996 and ensure the participation of the Magdalen women in this review. We are calling for this review in light of the fact that the first recommendation of the Quirke report, which the Government accepted in full, has not been enacted fully as certain services and therapies accessible to those with a Health Amendment Act, HAA, card have been restricted and are not available to the Magdalen women, despite the fact that Mr. Justice Quirke specifically recommended that the women be entitled to a HAA card standard of care. It is unfair that these services are not available to these women. They have gone through enough and should not have to lobby politicians to access what they were promised as part of the State settlement. I listened closely to what the Minister said in response to our Committee Stage amendment, which was that this is not the place for the amendment, that the Bill is short and technical and that it deals with the extension of health services but, not, apparently, to the ones to which we are referring.I do not accept that this is the case. The 2015 Bill is the legislative enactment of the health and social care recommendations of the Quirke report. If those recommendations have not been implemented in full, this amendment to the Bill is exactly where such a review should take place.
The Minister claimed the only reason for differences between the entitlements of the Magdalen women and those with an HAA card is that the HAA scheme was specifically designed for those who contracted hepatitis C through contaminated blood products. Accordingly, some changes were made to adapt the scheme to the needs of the Magdalen women. He said these changes were "intended in any way to restrict access, as the focus is firmly on the health needs of the women". I absolutely accept the Minister's intentions in this regard and I do not believe the restriction of entitlements is in any way intentional.
Will he provide further clarification that he will examine the entitlements and the restrictions which have, as he said, unintentionally been placed on the Magdalen women? The practical reality means that, given the way the Magdalen scheme has been designed and implemented, these restrictions unfortunately exist. It is timely and necessary, therefore, to review the entitlements under both schemes, especially if the intention was never to restrict access.
All we are asking for is a review. If it is the case that there is nothing wrong and the scheme is operating as intended, will the Minister accept the amendment, conduct a review and show these concerns raised are not founded? I look forward to his response.