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Other Questions - Proposed Legislation

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 752 No. 2

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 7.  Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the date on which he expects the residential institutions redress statutory fund Bill to be established; and if he will provide an update on his engagement with survivors of institutional abuse on the proposed legislation. [2955/12]

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Work on the drafting of the residential institutions statutory fund Bill is at an advanced stage and I hope to be in a position to publish the Bill in the coming weeks. I had a very constructive meeting with groups representing survivors of residential institutional abuse on 22 July last when we discussed the Government’s approach to the proposed statutory fund to support the needs of victims of residential institutional abuse. Attendees at the meeting raised a number of issues regarding aspects of the proposed approach as set out in the general scheme of the residential institutions statutory fund Bill. I have also received a number of submissions on particular aspects of the proposed legislation, which are being considered as the drafting process continues.

Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe Zoom on Sean Crowe We all agree on the need to keep victims in the loop through discussions and meaningful engagement. A difficulty arises in determining who represents victims. There [285]is no commonality on the issue of how the resources will be spent and so forth. The main issue is to try to involve and engage victims in the process. It would be helpful to give victims a role and say on the final legislation.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Bill is still in the process of being finalised and will be introduced in this session. The points the Deputy makes will be taken into consideration when we have the text before us.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith I ask the Minister to ensure the views conveyed at a meeting of 22 July last between all the relevant groups and officials of his Department are taken into account. Some of the groups expressed concern about what they understood would be the broad scope of the work of the statutory fund. The education board has done good work supporting survivors and their children and grandchildren, particularly in the education area. I understand the membership of the board, which still has money to disburse, will fall below quorate in mid-February. It is unlikely the proposed legislation will be passed by then, although the Minister will, I am sure, have the full support of the House in that regard. I understand an amendment could be made to the legislation that established the education board to enable it to continue its work. It is important to avoid instability or uncertainty in supporting survivors and their families through education. The board has funding and is supporting many people in a worthwhile manner. It is important to ensure survivors, their children and, in some cases, grandchildren, are supported through education.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy is partially correct. The board has money available to it but also has ongoing liabilities arising from educational commitments it has made which extend beyond one year. I will get a note for the Deputy on the issue. Subject to confirmation, I am of the opinion, based on advice I have read and which I am now remembering, that the board’s commitments match the funds it has on deposit. For this reason, it will not make any fresh or new allocations. It is not necessary, therefore, to extend the lifetime of the board, as the Deputy suggests. I will confirm this in writing.

Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe Zoom on Sean Crowe When will the heads of the Bill be published? On the Magdalene——

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn We have another question on that issue. In case we do not reach it, the Magdalene survivors do not qualify in that regard.

Question No. 8 answered with Question No. 6.


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