Statement by Charles Flanagan T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality
on implementation of the Report of the Ombudsman on the Magdalen Restorative Justice Scheme
17 April 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan T.D., today briefed Cabinet on proposals to implement the recommendations made by the Ombudsman in his recently published report on the administration of the Magdalen Restorative Justice Scheme.
In November 2017 the Ombudsman published a report on the administration of the scheme by the Department of Justice and Equality and made four recommendations.
The Minister stated: “I have carefully considered the Ombudsman’s report and last week, along with the Taoiseach, I was pleased to have the opportunity to have a detailed and constructive discussion with the Ombudsman about my plans and I look forward to working with him in the time ahead.”
In relation to the four recommendations, Minister Flanagan announced:
Where there is a dispute in respect of the length of stay in a Magdalen Institution, an independent Senior Counsel will review these cases. Ms. Mary O’Toole SC has been asked to undertake this work.
Counsel will also advise on assistance to be given to applicants who lack capacity to accept an award.
The reviews recommended by the Ombudsman in regard to eligibility of cases of women who worked in one of the institutions covered by the Scheme but who were officially recorded as having been “admitted to” a training centre or industrial school located in the same building, attached to or located on the grounds of one of the laundries will now be taken forward on an interdepartmental basis, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach. This Group will be established in the coming days and its report will be considered by Government in due course.
The recommendation to establish guidance in the development and operation of redress schemes will be examined in consultation with Government colleagues, including the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
Minister Flanagan stated:
“I am committed, as are my Government colleagues, to honouring the commitments we have made to the Magdalen women. To date, over 691 applicants have received redress under the Ex Gratia Magdalen Restorative Justice Scheme, along with other enhanced Health and Social Protection supports."
“I will work with the Ombudsman and with colleagues in Government to address these matters as quickly as possible.”
Note to Editors
The Government introduced the Magdalen Restorative Justice Ex Gratia Scheme in 2013. Since then, a total of €25.9m in lump sums has been paid to 691 applicants under the Magdalen Restorative Justice Scheme. In addition, qualifying applicants receive additional benefits under the scheme. These include an enhanced medical card from the HSE and ‘top up’ pension payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
The Ombudsman's Report, which he titled 'Opportunity Lost', was published on his website: