I propose to take Questions Nos. 98 to 101, inclusive, together.
The Government is committed to complying with all of the recommendations of the Ombudsman in relation to the operation of Magdalen Restorative Justice Ex Gratia Scheme. In relation to the Ombudsman's principal recommendation that the Scheme should be applied to women who worked in the laundry of one of the 12 'Magdalen' Institutions and who were resident in one of 14 adjoining institutions, the Addendum to the terms of the scheme giving effect to this recommendation has been finalised and published on the Department's website - www.justice.ie.
Letters have issued to all persons known to date to my Department who may be eligible for an award under the terms of the Addendum. These letters do not seek any information which the Department already has and any additional information sought is necessary to process the applications in as timely a fashion as possible. Further, the letters to the women concerned make it clear that any further relevant information sought relates to work in the laundry in as much detail as they can remember.
The Addendum provides that the first phase of processing a completed application is the making of a provisional assessment as to whether the applicant comes within the scope of the scheme. This assessment will be made based on the records of the institutions concerned (where available) and any other relevant records or statements, which may include the applicant's testimony and in some cases testimony from other persons. Each application will be assessed individually on its merits. On this basis, a decision will be made as to whether on the balance of probabilities the applicant comes within the scope of the scheme. In addition, for those cases where there is insufficient documentary evidence available to make an assessment on their case, an interview process is in place so as to facilitate a fairer assessment of a woman's application.
In relation to the age at which a girl started work in a Magdalen laundry, the information contained in the McAleese Report relates only to girls and women admitted to the Magdalen Institutions. The McAleese Committee did not conduct any research into the adjoining institutions which are now covered by the Addendum. The statistical analysis carried out by the Committee indicated that the average age on entry into the Magdalen Institutions was 23.8 years of age and the median age was 20 years of age. While the youngest entrant was identified as 9 years of age, this had occurred in the 1930s. The McAleese Committee's analysis also shows that only 4.1% were under 14 years of age at the time of entry. As stated in the Addendum, it is open to an applicant to show that she worked in a Magdalen Laundry before she reached 12 years of age and, where shown, such work would be included in the calculation of the 'work' element of the lump sum.
It is assumed that the details requested by the Deputy in relation to age, hours worked and the records of the religious congregations returned to the Department, relates to records received by the Department in processing applications under the scheme established in 2013 for those women who were admitted to and worked in a Magdalen Institution. The only criteria relevant to calculating the lump sum payable to successful applicants under that scheme is as set out by Judge Quirke in his report on the scheme of compensation for the Magdalen women. Those criteria are (i) that the applicant had been admitted to and worked in the Magdalen Institution and (ii) the length of stay in that institution. Therefore the only information required from records submitted by the relevant religious congregations are the entry and exit date for the applicant. Records as to the age of the applicant while in the Magdalen Institution or their hours of work were not relevant to the calculation of the award. Applicants to the scheme are asked to provide supporting documentation and, where it is necessary and the applicant has consented, the religious congregations provide records to the Department. It should be noted that the religious congregations co-operated fully with the Department in the administration of the scheme and provided records where requested.
In relation to the McAleese inquiry which preceded the Quirke report and the establishment of the ex-gratia scheme, the religious congregations also cooperated and provided access to their archives. When the McAleese report was finalised and published, the records provided by the congregations were returned to them and they are not part of the State archive. Chapters 5 & 12 of the McAleese Report detail the research undertaken on the legislation and regulation of employment, factories and the workplace.
Chapter 6 of the McAleese Report sets out the approach in relation to the archive. The McAleese Committee agreed that the archive be deposited and stored centrally with the Department of the Taoiseach, noting the approach taken in relation to archiving set out in the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004.
The Committee decided that the archive contains only copies of state records, in order to avoid disturbance to or destruction of original or archived files. The originals of all such records identified – many of which were already archived, and some of which are covered by the National Archives Act 1986 - will remain in their original files and locations.
There are no plans at this stage to provide access to the McAleese archive at this time.