I can't force orders to aid Magdalene victims, Kenny says
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has asked some religious orders to "reflect" on their decision not to contribute to the compensation fund for victims of the Magdalene Laundries.
But Mr Kenny said he cannot force the orders to give any funding towards the redress scheme, and said he did not want to mount a legal challenge against them.
The Coalition is preparing to pay out up to €58m in compensation to Magdalene survivors.
And the Government is seeking a financial contribution from four religious congregations involved in running the institutions: The Good Shepherd Sisters, The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, The Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Charity.
The four orders came back to say they don't intend to make a contribution.
Mr Kenny said the Government needed the co-operation of the orders to get access to the records for the Magdalene Laundries and called on them to reflect on their decision not to contribute to the compensation fund.
Mr Kenny, who was questioned in the Dail by Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams on the issue, said the Magdalene survivors wanted a state apology, which he gave, and "because of their circumstances and their ages they wanted put in place a system that was non-litigious and non-adversarial, and that would be quick, efficient and deliver a conclusion and solution for the women".
The Taoiseach said the compensation scheme cannot be set up without the orders "because they have all the records about who worked, who attended and who lived in the laundries".
But he added: "The scheme was not contingent upon a 50-50 principle or upon a forced contribution from the religious orders.
"We cannot complete this without the religious orders' co-operation in terms of the records etc. I ask them to reflect on the question of a monetary contribution.
"I cannot force them to do that. I cannot take away the charitable status as some people have called for. This is an issue that they know about themselves." And he said he had "no intention of going down a legal route of confrontation with the religious orders".