286. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason she is not implementing the full recommendations (details supplied) of Judge Quirke's report in respect of the Magdalene scheme as originally promised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3815/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Government is committed to full implementation of the Quirke Report.
Significant progress has been made on the implementation of the Magdalen Scheme. To date, a decision has been made on 87% of the applications received and 498 applicants have received their lump sum at a cost of over €18m.
Judge Quirke recommended that the women should have access to an enhanced medical card. He also specifically recommended that legislation be introduced to give effect to this recommendation.
As the Deputy will be aware, I am bringing forward the Bill (the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill 2014) later this week for consideration by the Dáil and I hope, with the cooperation of the Oireachtas, that the Bill will be enacted very promptly.
This Bill makes special provision for free access to health services for women who worked in the 12 specified institutions.
The women are already covered by section 21 (appointment of a care representative) under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009. Judge Quirke recommended provision for a mechanism whereby a person can be appointed to act in the best interests of a woman who receives an ex-gratia payment under the scheme where she lacks capacity. This is being done through the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Bill, currently awaiting Committee Stage in the Dail.
Judge Quirke’s recommendation regarding top up pension type payments is being fully implemented. This recommendation proposes that eligible women should in addition and without regard to the "lump" sum payments receive weekly payments of €100 if under 66 and the equivalent of the State Contributory pension - €230.30 - if over 66 for the remainder of their lives. These payments are to be calculated net of other State benefits.
The Department of Social Protection have set up a separate scheme to give effect to this recommendation and they are continuing to process payments on a phased basis.
The Government decided that the commencement date for the Scheme was 1 August 2013 so therefore, regardless of when an applicant makes an application, if eligible for the scheme, will have appropriate payments backdated to 1 August 2013.
The only issue of back dating mentioned by Judge Quirke is in his 7th Recommendation in which he states, "Where a written “expression of interest” (or other written application for inclusion within the proposed Scheme) has been provided to the State by or on behalf of a Magdalen woman who was alive on or after the 19th of February 2013 then that woman will be eligible for consideration to be included within the Scheme. Additional income ex gratia payments (payable to women entitled to payments in excess of €50,000) will not accrue to the benefit of the estate of any Magdalen woman.”