Thursday, 2 February 2017
Department of Justice and Equality
Magdalen Laundries Report
44. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if she has ordered an investigation into the serious issue of gaps in the affidavits provided by her Department to the courts regarding the Magdalen redress scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4964/17]
This question appears to relate to two separate ongoing actions relating to the operation of Ex Gratia Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme administered by my Department. The first involves Judicial Review cases currently before the High Court taken by two applicants who were refused compensation as neither had been resident in one of the 12 specified institutions provided for under the Scheme. That case is ongoing. The second involves a formal review being undertaken by the Office of the Ombudsman into the administration of the Scheme by the Department of Justice and Equality and the issue underlying this review is, again, the inclusion of an institution not covered under the Scheme. The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot comment on either of these ‘live’ issues as to do so would serve to prejudice the respective ongoing consideration processes.
I will take this opportunity to give some background to the operation of the Ex Gratia Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme. To date, over €25 million has been paid out to 669 women under the Scheme. The Scheme remains open to new applications but it is important to note that decisions have been made on all of the 819 applications made to date. The difference between that figure and the 669 payments made is accounted for by refusals and for other reasons including probate cases, applicants still considering provisional offers, and the application of the Assisted Decision Making Act, 2015 in relation to those women who lack the necessary capacity.
The redress scheme was set up following the publication of the report in February, 2013 of an Inter-Departmental Committee set up to establish the facts of the State's involvement with the Magdalen Laundries. It was chaired by then Senator Martin McAleese and it is commonly referred to as the McAleese report. The material in the Report relates to 10 different institutions which were run by 4 different Orders of nuns over a period of 70 years.
Although there was no finding in the McAleese Report which indicated that the State had any liability in the matter, following the report’s publication the Taoiseach issued a State apology to the women. Mr. Justice Quirke was asked by the Government to make recommendations on an appropriate redress scheme for those who were in the 10 Magdalen laundries that were the subject of the McAleese Report. The Government also included in the scheme the laundry that was attached to Stanhope Street Training School and later also decided to include a 12th institution, the Training School in Summerhill.
The Scheme provides for lump sum payments varying from €11,500 to €100,000 depending on the length of stay in the institution concerned. Further, each woman is entitled to a top-up payment to bring her weekly income from the Irish State up to the equivalent of the Irish Contributory Pension in recognition of the fact that they were not paid for the work they did while in the laundries.
Moreover, the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015 provided for certain services to be made available by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to the women. The services, which are free of charge, include GP services, prescribed drugs, medicines, aids and appliances, dental, ophthalmic and aural services, home support, home nursing, counselling services, chiropody, podiatry and physiotherapy. The HSE has administrative arrangements in place for health and social services for women living outside Ireland.