Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the requested consultation talks with survivors of residential industrial schools to facilitate a survivor-led strategy providing support for survivors looking for assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Following a meeting with survivors, I expressed a willingness to have a series of consultation meetings around the country, led by and for survivors of institutional abuse. The purpose of these meetings will be to enable survivors to reflect on their experiences, the State’s response to the issue of institutional abuse and to make any recommendations they wish to make. The detail of how this can happen is being worked out and Department officials are in contact with survivors.
Residential Institutions Statutory Fund
Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the eligibility review for Caranua will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The review of eligibility to apply for Caranua is nearing completion and will be published in the coming weeks.
Residential Institutions Statutory Fund
Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made by Caranua following publication of its customer service charter and its feedback and complaints policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Caranua (the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund) is an independent statutory body and I have no role in relation to its day to day operations. The organisation’s existing Customer Charter is available on its website www.caranua.ie, as is its Feedback and Complaints Policy. Recent statistics published on the website show that 95% of the feedback between January and March of this year was positive.
Caranua has identified a number of areas that it would review, these include: waiting times for first time applicants, its prioritisation policy and the usage of Nominated Person and Permission to Share Policy. I am advised that Caranua will progress these and related issues.
Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board
Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the board members of Caranua who recently resigned have been replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Arrangements will be put in place as soon as practicable to fill the two vacancies that have arisen on the Board of Caranua. These vacancies will be filled in accordance with the provisions of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 and the Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards. Notwithstanding these vacancies the Caranua Board continues to operate and currently has seven members, two of whom are former residents.
Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality to outline the timeframe for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Ombudsman’s report on an investigation into the administration of the Magdalen restorative justice scheme.
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am committed to honouring the commitments made to the Magdalen women. To date, 691 applicants have received redress amounting to €25.9 m in lump sums under the Ex Gratia Magdalen Restorative Justice Scheme, along with other enhanced Health and Social Protection supports.
I have carefully considered the Ombudsman’s report of November 2017 on the administration of the scheme by my Department. I am pleased to have since had the opportunity to have a detailed and constructive discussion with the Ombudsman about my plans to implement the recommendations made his report. Last week I briefed the Cabinet on these plans.
In relation to the four recommendations in the Ombudsman’s report, the following is the position:
– 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 following a brief scoping review by an interdepartmental group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach.
– The recommendation to establish guidance on the development and operation of redress schemes will be examined in consultation with Government colleagues, including the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
I will work with the Ombudsman and with colleagues in Government to address these matters as quickly as possible.