Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Department of Justice and Equality
308. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will set out the appeals process where an eligible applicant to the Magdalene laundry redress scheme decides to appeal a decision to the Ombudsman. [10541/14]
Any applicant to the Restorative Justice Scheme who does not agree with the provisional assessment made by the Restorative Justice Implementation Unit, on whether she comes within the scope of the scheme or the duration of her stay in one of the relevant institutions, can seek a review of that assessment. The applicant should set out in writing the reason why she does not agree with the provisional assessment issued to her by the Restorative Justice Implementation Unit. Her case will then be reviewed by an officer of a higher grade who, having considered the matter, will make a decision on the case and give written reasons for that decision. The applicant will be informed in writing of the decision, and the reasons for the decision. She will also be advised that if she is not satisfied with the review decision, she may appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman. Contact details for the Office of the Ombudsman will be provided to her.
309. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of the eligible applicants to the Magdalene laundry redress scheme that have sought a review of the assessment regarding length of incarceration; and the number following this assessment that have appealed his Departments implementation teams decision to the Ombudsman. [10542/14]
I can advise the Deputy that 722 applications to the Restorative Justice Scheme have been received to date and 321 letters of formal offer have issued. So far, 238 of the applicants have accepted the formal offer and 211 payments have issued at a cost in excess of €7.6 million. 16 applicants have to date sought an internal review of their provisional offer. Of that number, 5 have been decided by the review officer, with one applicant appealing that decision to the Office of the Ombudsman. It may be noted that an applicant has two months to decide to accept or decline the provisional offer made by the restorative justice team and that time frame also applies to the review officer's decision.
310. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department will provide for the legal costs incurred by eligible applicants to the Magdalene laundry redress scheme for advice sought before appealing a decision to the Ombudsman. [10543/14]
The position regarding legal fees is clearly set out in the scheme document, pages 6 and 7 and is in accordance with the recommendations of Judge Quirke. Before signing the Acceptance Form and statutory declaration the applicant is strongly advised to obtain legal advice. A contribution of up to a maximum of €500 plus VAT will be made available to applicants residing either in Ireland or abroad towards the cost of obtaining their own legal advice. Any legal costs incurred by an applicant in excess of €500 + VAT will not be paid for by the State. If the applicant confirms in writing that she will accept the provisional determination, then a formal offer in the same terms as the provisional assessment will be made in writing and payment will be conditional on the signing of an Acceptance Form and a statutory declaration. No other legal costs incurred by an applicant to the scheme will be paid by the State.