71. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the steps she will take to encourage relevant religious orders to contribute to the Magdalen restitution fund; the date of the last contact her Department had with each of these orders; the amount religious orders have contributed to date, if any; the nature of this contribution, if any; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17772/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): My predecessor as Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, met with the four religious congregations involved in June 2013. They were asked to make a contribution to the cost of implementing the Magdalen Laundries Restorative Justice Ex-Gratia Scheme. Following reflection on the matter all four congregations declined to make a financial contribution towards the implementation of the scheme.
The matter was discussed again by the Government on 16 July 2013 and following that meeting the then Minister wrote to all four congregations expressing his disappointment that they had decided not to make a financial contribution, pointing out that the Government was of the view that the congregations had a moral obligation to do so and urging them to reconsider. The congregations responded to that second request reaffirming their previous position.
Further letters issued to the religious congregations in January 2014 and they again reaffirmed their position that they would not be making a financial contribution to the Scheme.
All four religious congregations are cooperating fully with the scheme with regard to providing the appropriate records available to applicants. My officials in the Restorative Justice Implementation Unit liaise with the religious congregations on a regular basis with regard to verifying records.
Significant progress has been made on implementing the Ex Gratia Scheme. To date, 633 women have received lump sum payments at a cost of over €23.6m. The women are also in receipt of top up pension-type payments from the Department of Social Protection and are entitled to free access to a range of health services as provided for under the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015.