161. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the action he will take to address the failure by the restorative justice unit to provide a provisional offer for redress to 14 survivors of the High Park Magdalen laundry which was in operation into the 1980s. [12554/19]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Government is committed to complying with all of the recommendations of the Ombudsman in relation to the operation of the Magdalen Restorative Justice Ex Gratia Scheme and officials in my Department are in regular contact with the Ombudsman's Office.
In relation to the application of the Scheme under the terms of the Addendum, there are currently 97 applications consisting of 52 persons refused under the original scheme and who may now be eligible and 45 new applicants. 7 awards have been made and 4 offers are under consideration.
I assume that the Deputy is referring in her question to applications from women who were resident in An Grianán Teenage Unit. Of the 52 persons refused under the original scheme, 19 were resident in An Grianán and applications from a further 11 have also been received. To date 6 of the applicants resident in An Grianán have received an award and 2 offers are under consideration. In the case of those women who were originally refused, the Department already has their previous application forms and has not sought information that it already has. The applicants have been requested to provide any information they may have in relation to their work in the laundry of a Magdalen Institution. Applications for those who have completed relevant forms are being processed, and in some cases queries have been raised with religious congregations, other bodies or with applicants themselves. In addition, 11 of these applicants were invited for interview, and 4 have availed of this opportunity to date.
Where it is necessary to interview an applicant the process is solely for her benefit. Its primary purpose is to facilitate a fair assessment of her claim where there is insufficient or conflicting documentation available. I am assured that in these interviews, officials are compassionate and seek to help applicants as much as possible. Each application is assessed individually and the process involved in making a provisional assessment is based on the records of the institutions concerned (where these are available) and any other relevant records or statements which may include the applicant's testimony and sometimes testimony from others. This process enables a decision to be made as to whether on the balance of probabilities an applicant comes within the scope of the scheme.
I can assure the Deputy that all applications will be dealt with as quickly as possible.