Thursday, 18 April 2013

Questions (207, 208)

Maureen O'Sullivan


207. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in relation to Magdalen laundry survivors, if he will publicise at home and abroad to diaspora communities survivors' entitlements to register with the Magdalen fund/commission in order to maximise the number of potential applicants' awareness of the scheme; the consequences there are for a survivor who does not register with the Magdalen fund/commission during the three months of Mr. Justice Quirke's review; if that person will be excluded from further engagement in the justice process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18207/13]

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Maureen O'Sullivan


208. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will make available to survivors and their families free independent advice and advocacy assistance in relation to the Magdalen fund/commission scheme; if Mr. Justice Quirke will be commissioned to implement the process that he recommends after the three month review period; and if he will establish a dedicated helpline for Magdalen survivors. [18208/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 and 208 together.

Mr. Justice Quirke has been asked to advise on the establishment of a Scheme for the benefit of those women who were admitted to and worked in a Magdalen Laundry and to examine how best to operate, as part of that Scheme, necessary supports for women who have been in a Magdalen Laundry. It is a matter for Judge Quirke to decide independently how he will carry out his examination. His terms of reference are as follows:

Taking into account the findings of the "Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries"

(i) to advise on the establishment of an ex gratia Scheme (to operate on a non-adversarial basis) including identifying the criteria and factors to be taken into account to facilitate the early establishment and effective conduct of an ex gratia Scheme for the benefit of those women who were admitted to and worked in a Magdalen Laundry and in the Laundry operated in the Training Centre at Stanhope Street, Dublin, taking into account criteria determined to be relevant, including work undertaken and other matters as considered appropriate, to contribute to a healing and reconciliation process;

(ii) to examine how best to operate (as part of that Scheme) an ex gratia Fund, of a sum sufficient to meet the recommendations of Mr Justice Quirke, the nature and amount of ex gratia payments to be made out of the Fund and on the determination of applications for payment in an effective and timely manner that ensures the monies in the Fund are directed only to the benefit of eligible applicants and not on legal fees and expenses;

(iii) to examine how the Government might best provide supports (including health services such as medical cards, mental health services and counselling services and other welfare needs) as part of the Scheme for women who require such supports as a result of their experiences in the Laundries;

(iv) to consider the approach to be taken in circumstances in which a payment has already been made by the Redress Board by way of redress to a former resident of an industrial school, where such payment included a sum specifically due to the direct transfer of that person from an industrial school to a relevant Laundry and their time or part of their time spent in a Laundry or Laundries;

(v) to examine the effect, if any, of the making of an ex gratia payment to a person who is resident in the UK and how best the making of any such payment should be structured so as not to adversely affect their existing entitlements to benefits and supports;

(vi) to advise as to what steps or measures are appropriate to ensure that ex gratia payments or supports or assistance provided are dis-regarded for the purposes of determining entitlement of Social Welfare payments and/or income tax liability;

(vii) to report back to Government within three months with recommendations.

No decision on advertising will be made until after the Government has received the recommendations of Judge Quirke and made a decision on how best to implement a scheme. There are no consequences for women not registering their interest during the three months Mr. Justice Quirke has been asked to conduct his examination. However registration will facilitate any consultation process undertaken to take women's views into account and will also facilitate such women being kept informed of any developments.