Written answers

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Department of Education and Science

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

9:00 pm

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Dublin South East, Labour)
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Question 693: To ask the Minister for Education and Science the number of children that were transferred to a Magdalene laundry from a State-regulated institution; the number of applications received by the Residential Institutions Redress Board which claim redress on the basis of section 1(3) of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6505/10]

Photo of Tom KittTom Kitt (Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
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Question 695: To ask the Minister for Education and Science the number of children who were transferred to a Magdalene laundry from a State-regulated institution; the number of survivors that have applied to the Residential Institutions Redress Board on the basis of section 1(3) of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002. [6604/10]

Photo of Tom KittTom Kitt (Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
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Question 696: To ask the Minister for Education and Science if he will enter into dialogue with the four religious congregations involved with the Magdalene laundries in order that they will make available their records for all women and children entering Magdalene laundries after 1 January 1900. [6605/10]

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Dublin South East, Labour)
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Question 715: To ask the Minister for Education and Science if he will account for each child confined to a Magdalene laundry since the foundation of the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6836/10]

Photo of Batt O'KeeffeBatt O'Keeffe (Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 693, 695, 696 and 715 together.

As the Deputies are aware the Magdalen Laundries were privately owned and operated institutions which were not subject to State regulation or inspection and, as a consequence, are not scheduled institutions for the purposes of the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002. However, in recognition of the fact that some children were transferred from institutions specified for the purposes of the Schedule to the Act, to laundries, section 1(3) of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 provides that a child who was resident in a scheduled institution and who was transferred to a laundry where they suffered abuse while so resident, will be deemed, at the time of the abuse to have been resident in the scheduled institution.

My Department does not hold information on the number of applications made to the Residential Institutions Redress Board where applicants were transferred from scheduled institutions to laundries. The Board is entirely independent in the performance of its functions.

My Department does not have details of every child who was placed in a laundry. In relation to the number of children that were transferred to a Magdalen Laundry from a State regulated institution (scheduled institution), my Department only maintains records on those children who were admitted to Industrial & Reformatory Schools via the Courts. Some of these records may indicate instances of children being transferred to Laundries. My Department is currently reviewing these records in an attempt to identify the incidence of this practice within the records available to the Department. My Department does not generally hold any records in relation to children who may have been otherwise placed in the Industrial and Reformatory schools, e.g. voluntary placements, Health Authority referrals, etc. nor indeed would my Department hold any records in respect of former residents of the remaining scheduled institutions. Consequently, any records which my Department holds would not be a true reflection of the numbers involved and could not be relied upon to accurately quantify the numbers.

I wish to advise the Deputies however that officials at my Department recently met with a delegation representing the Justice for Magdalenes Group. At that meeting, my Department indicated its willingness to facilitate requests from individuals who were transferred to a Laundry from either an Industrial or Reformatory School subject to confidentiality requirements for personal data.

Turning to the question of records held by the religious congregations who owned and operated the Magdalen Laundries, like my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I have no legal authority to instruct them to provide full access to their records. It is a matter for each individual congregation, having regard to any requirements of the data protection legislation. The Deputies will be aware that when recommending the continuation of family tracing services, the Commission noted that the right of access to personal documents and information must be recognised and afforded to ex-residents of institutions. In this context, my Department continues to provide individuals access to their personal records under the terms of the Freedom of Information Acts.

As can be seen from the above, while it is not possible for my Department to account for each child confined to a Magdalen Laundry since the foundation of the State, my Department will assist individuals in respect of whom it may hold records. My officials are continuing to liaise with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform regarding its ongoing inquiries in relation to the role of the criminal justice system in referring individuals to Magdalen Laundries.

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