24 June, 2014

· Access to health services to be provided to the women who worked in Magdalen Laundries

· Today’s decision follows payment to date of lump sums totalling €12.8m to 357 former residents of Magdalen Laundries

 

Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice and Equality, announced that the Government has, this morning, agreed to her proposal for publication of the scheme of a new Bill to provide for services and supports for women who worked in Magdalen Laundries.

Commenting in the Dáil during Parliamentary Questions, the Minister further announced that, to date, lump sum payments totalling €12.8m have been made under the Magdalen Redress Scheme to 357 former residents of Magdalen Laundries, with further offers still being made.

The purpose of this Bill approved today is to make additional provisions for:

· Access to health services;

· The exempting from means test criteria for certain State services and schemes (including the Nursing Home Support Scheme) of payments which have been made by the State to these women;

· Legal provision is being made for relatives or other appropriate persons to act on behalf of any of the women who do not have the capacity to act of their own behalf.

 

With regard to the provision of health services, Judge Quirke in his report on the Magdalen Laundries, had recommended that legislation be introduced to give the women the same entitlement as those under the Hepatitis C scheme. This is to be implemented by the Department of Health but the Department of Justice will introduce the necessary legislative provisions in the bill approved today by Cabinet.

Minister Fitzgerald stated: “Following the apology issued in the Dáil by an Taoiseach to former residents of the Magdalen laundries, the Government committed to implementing all of the recommendations made by Mr. Justice Quirke in his report.”

“A number of those recommendations require minor changes in legislation. I am therefore very pleased to announce today that the Government has approved the scheme of a Bill to give effect to these legislative changes.”

“Once the Bill is published I would hope that it will be enacted very promptly, with the co-operation of the Oireachtas.”

The Minister noted that today’s announcement follows on from a range of payments and supports implemented by Government for the women who worked in Magdalen Laundries and two similar institutions. These supports were recommended in the Quirke Report which set out a comprehensive range of measures for the women involved. Payments of up to €100,000 are being made to women who worked in Magdalen Laundries, depending on their length of stay in the laundries. In addition the Department of Social Protection is making pension type payments to these women.

The Minister noted that 754 applications have been received to date. 357 applicants have received their lump sum payment so far, at a cost of €12.8m. A further 106 formal offers have been made and letters of provisional assessment on the length of stay in a relevant institution have issued to an additional 35 applicants.

ENDS.../

 

Note for Editors

Following the publication of the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries, (the Mc Aleese Report), Mr. Justice Quirke was appointed by Government to examine and advise on various matters arising out of that report. Mr Justice Quirke published his recommendations in May 2013.

 

On 25 June 2013 the Government approved the immediate implementation of a cash payments scheme, agreed in principle to the other recommendations of Judge Quirke and tasked an Interdepartmental Group with giving further consideration to the steps necessary to implement the recommendations and ascertain the cost implications insofar as possible. The Departments that were represented on the Inter-Departmental Group were Justice and Equality, Social Protection, Health, Education and Skills, Finance, Expenditure and Reform, the Department of An Taoiseach and the Attorney General’s Office. The Inter Departmental Group reported to Government on 5 November 2013.

The purpose of this Bill approved today is to make additional provisions for:

· Access to health services;

· The exempting from means test criteria for certain State services and schemes (including the Nursing Home Support Scheme) of payments which have been made by the State to these women;

· Legal provision is being made for relatives or other appropriate persons to act on behalf of any of the women who do not have the capacity to act of their own behalf.

Given the wide variation of country health system's organisation, access to equivalent medical services for participants living abroad will be dealt with on an administrative basis by the HSE and is, therefore not part of the proposed Bill.